Macron will win French election due to split opposition says Lees

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Associate Professor of French Studies at Warwick University and expert on far-right politics, Dr David Lees, spoke to Express.co.uk about the upcoming French presidential election and stated he believes Emmanuel Macron will win a second term. He explained the right-wing vote is currently contested by National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, Republican Valerie Pecresse and Eric Zemmour which means these candidates will struggle to win huge support in the first round of voting. Dr Lees added Mr Macron could then position himself to be more centrist to win over voters from his likely second-round opponent, conservative Valarie Pecresse, meaning his victory is pretty much assured.

Speaking to Express.co.uk about the April election, Dr Lees believed Mr Macron would sail through to victory due to the conflicts on the right.

He explained: “There’s another figure on the right, the centre-right, Valerie Pecresse, who will be standing for the centre-right Republican party and may also split the vote further.

“So in a sense, what you’ve got is you’ve got the centre-right figure and then a more extreme right figure with Le Pen and then even more extreme right figure with Zemmour.

“And I think all three candidates like to split the right-wing votes, ultimately coming back to the question of does this guarantee victory for Macron?

“Yes, I think it does, I think it’s very unlikely that anybody other than Macron will win at the 2022 presidential elections simply because the vote every way split in so many different ways.

“Macron can position himself in the centre, the centre-left, and can even try and sort of take some votes from the centre-right Pecresse simply through appealing to some of those concerns around particular issues around law and order, for example.”

A poll from Harris Interactive put Mr Macron as the winner of the 2022 election with 24 percent of the first-round vote.

Ms Le Pen, Mr Zemmour and Ms Pecresse were all tied on 16 percent according to the poll.

In the runoff, Mr Macron would win 51-49 percent if he faces Ms Pecresse, 55-45 percent against Ms Le Pen, and 61-39 percent against Mr Zemmour.

Macron tries to make the party seem more palatable says professor

However, Mr Macron has garnered much criticism from the French electorate for his handling of the pandemic and accusations he has fueled anti-vax sentiments.

At the beginning of 2021, Mr Macron said the AstraZeneca vaccine was “quasi-ineffective” for over-65s and was one of the main European leaders calling to halt its distribution over blood clot fears later on.

In February, a Euronews poll found 42 percent of French respondents would not take the coronavirus vaccine and 21 percent were unsure whether to have it.

As a result, France’s vaccination programme waned behind other European countries with some northern French towns reporting mass no-shows for AstraZeneca appointments back in April.

Calais saw 600 extra doses after people refused to turn up for their appointments with towns Gravelines and Boulogne-sur-Mer also had leftover doses from a weekend with around 800 no-shows between them.

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Parisian hospitals were also forced to airlift patients to less busy services as ICU wards reached breaking point.

Mr Macron introduced very strict coronavirus rules back in July where mandatory vaccines would be given to health workers, covid certifications were introduced and testing kits would be limited.

Protests erupted across the country with anti-lockdown demonstrators in Poitiers ripping down a portrait of Mr Macron and ripping it to shreds.

Since the tightening of rules, however, France has seen a huge uptick in its vaccination rate with virologists broadly agreeing the move worked.

Mr Macron’s election poll rating teetered between 24-25 percent throughout 2021 with little deviance, according to Politico.

Dr Lees also explained how Ms Le Pen has learnt from her 2017 defeat and has toned down her rhetoric to be more appealing.

Ms Le Pen had once been a staunch opponent of the European Union and called for drastic moves on immigration.

However, the National Rally leader has now become more revisionist with the bloc and had toned down her anti-immigration stance – until rival Eric Zemmour announced his candidacy.

Ms Le Pen said she would campaign for a referendum on immigration back in September 2020 if she is elected in what appears to be her attempt to claw back support.

She said: “The April 2022 election will be about our civilization.

“Will France remain France, or be brushed aside by the uncontrolled torrent of massive migration flows that will wipe out our culture, our values, our way of life.”

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