Macron’s confidence in right-wing rival eroded ahead of vote

PARIS (AP) – President Emmanuel Macron said Friday he has no fear of defeat in France’s presidential election, while far-right rival Marine Le Pen narrowed the gap in opinion polls just days before the first round of voting. Have given.

Still, the mystery lies in Sunday’s voting to choose the top two from a dozen contenders, with a projected low turnout that could help decide the race.

Macron, a centrist, said in an interview with RTL Radio on the last day of campaigning, “I have a sense of victory rather than a sense of defeat.” But he added cautiously, “nothing is ever given.”

In his third presidential race, Le Pen has finished second in a row over Macron in the polls. She appeared to narrow the gap even further, according to a published BVA survey, showing just 3% behind Macron’s 26%. Other polls have given a difference of 4-6 points between the two.

If the polls reflect the election results, Macron and Le Pen will repeat the 2017 scenario, squared off in a second round on 24 April. Macron won by a landslide five years ago, with 66% of the vote to Le Pen’s 34%.

Le Pen has spent a lot of energy trying to take the lead from his National Rally party to make it more attractive to voters. She’s softened her image even more and made purchasing power the centerpiece of her campaign, but she hasn’t given up on what she’s best known for — stopping “migrant inundation” and fighting radical Islamists. to fight

“If Emmanuel Macron had enriched the country, I’m sorry, but we wouldn’t talk about purchasing power,” Le Pen said Thursday evening at his last rally in the southwest city of Perpignan, whose far-right mayor , Louis Alite, is his former partner.

Macron cited his presidential duties, particularly the war in Ukraine, to justify his absence during the campaign, which has been criticized by other candidates.

Voting could be the deciding factor in the turnout and hurt Le Pen’s prospects the most because his working-class support base is made up of voters who stay at home on Election Day.

Pollsters say measuring the proportion of people who do not vote is a delicate task. Odoxa polling firm suggested on Friday that turnout could be near a historic low of 27.4%. This will be five points more than in 2017.

The record was in 2002 when 28.4% of voters failed to go to the polls in the first round, when then-president Jacques Chirac was competing with Le Pen’s firebrand far-right father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Le Pen was defeated in a landslide in the final round.

“It may even exceed this record,” Irwan Lestrohn, director of the study at Odoxa, said in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday. “This is the final stage and there are still some undecided voters, but we are very close to being off the record.”

Furthermore, three out of 10 people who say they are sure they will vote may change their mind or decide not to decide which candidate to choose, Lestrohn said.

“There is still a lot of suspense left in the final phase.

At Perpignon, Le Pen sought to rally supporters, including novice far-right candidate Eric Zemor, a former TV pundit whose bid for the presidency is based entirely on the migration issue. are thinking about. He is fourth in the polls after far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

“I will give the country back to the French people,” said Le Pen. “It will be up to the people of France who qualifies to be a French.”

He also appealed to the supporters to cast their votes.

“To those who stopped voting because of anger, hatred, disillusionment, fatigue, I say to them: ‘I understand you’ but here, be a citizen again,” said Le Pen.

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This story has been corrected to show that Le Pen’s first name is Marine, not Mary.

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Katherine Gaschka contributed.

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