(Paris) Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen? Before the polling stations opened on Sunday morning in mainland France, the first voters from home and abroad voted on Saturday for a presidential election with crucial issues.
Updated yesterday at 2:32pm.
Before Canada, the Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon archipelago started voting for the second round, before Guyana, the Antilles, then the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
In Guyana, at the Henri Agarande School in Cayenne, voters marched non-stop. For Sandy Doro, an 18-year-old student: “It is a fundamental right that must be exercised”. Next to her, Lyvio Francius, a student of the same age, also chooses for the first time, but without much enthusiasm: “It was my mother who pushed me and took me away, otherwise she wouldn’t have really cared”.
In Baie-Mahault, Guadeloupe, Dominique B., 55, a health/safety manager at a company, also performed his “duty as a citizen” to “weigh the final decision.” Even if “we didn’t see this campaign very often in Guadeloupe. The politicians here don’t know what to do and we voters feel a little lost.
Long lines of voters, warmly dressed and wearing anti-COVID-19 masks, were also seen at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal (Canada), a city home to a large French community.
In mainland France, polling stations open at 8am on Sundays. The campaign officially ended at midnight on Friday. No interviews or polls or estimates of results can be released before Sunday’s results at 8 p.m.
As in 2017, some 48.7 million French will have to choose between two candidates with radically opposite programs to lead a model country of Europe in a particularly tense international context with a war raging on the borders of the European Union.
Europe, the economy, purchasing power, relations with Russia, pensions, immigration: almost everything separates the two competitors, who, after five years of crises, seem to embody two Frenchmen more than ever, from the “yellow vests” to the Covid19 pandemic.
On the one hand, Emmanuel Macron, 44, who emerged victorious in the first round (27.85%), wants to cross the left-right divide again to win.
A favorite in the polls, he hopes to become the first President of the Fifth Republic to be re-elected by general suffrage without cohabitation. The outgoing president, who wanted to hold his election night on the Champ-de-Mars, called for a blockade by the extreme right, promising lower taxes, pension reform and more ecology.
On the other hand, Marine Le Pen, 53, wants to become the first representative of the extreme right – a term she dislikes – and the first woman to invest in the Elysée.
On April 10, she was more than four points (23.15%) behind the outgoing President. Barely defeated 5 years ago (33.9% of the vote), she wants to give the polls the lie by uniting a broad anti-Macron front on defending purchasing power and fighting immigration.
Also on Saturday, around 500 people, often young people, demonstrated in Strasbourg and 450 in Lille against the extreme right, as figures from the prefectures show.
walk on the beach
Emmanuel Macron, dressed in a blue, white and red hoodie, cap and sunglasses, and his wife Brigitte walked for an hour and a half on the beach at Le Touquet (Pas-de-Calais), their resort town. Before returning to their home after greeting viewers.
“Whoever wins, the country will inevitably be more difficult to govern over the next five years,” political scientist Chloé Morin told AFP.
“If Emmanuel Macron is re-elected, the voting method in the general election should result in (the) more radical oppositions being fairly weakly represented in parliament. They will therefore be more likely to be in media opposition or in the streets than in parliamentary opposition or in a culture of compromise,” she said.
Referees and big unknowns in the voting, the abstention should be high, on Sunday even more than in the first round (26.31%). Just like the blank and zero ballots that hit a record in 2017 and witnessed the refusal of millions of French to choose between the two finalists.
It could be between 26% and 28%, below the record for a second round in 1969 (31.1%). The three school zones will also be on vacation this weekend, particularly with the start of spring break for the Paris region.
The participation overseas will therefore set a first trend.
Especially since the Insoumis boss Jean-Luc Mélenchon, due to his third place on April 10, with 21.95% of the votes at national level, had arrived well ahead in the Antilles and had passed the 50% mark in Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyana.
His electorate – the largest pool of votes between the two ballots – was particularly courted by the two finalists. But many LFI supporters may be tempted to avoid the ballot box.