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Macron’s election chances laid bare with voters who wanted him gone

Mr Macron is fighting to be re-elected as French President, with the country set to go to the polls in four weeks’ time. The first round of voting is on April 10 before the two candidates with the most votes go head-to-head in a run-off two weeks later. One of the main frontrunners alongside Mr Macron is Valérie Pécresse, the conservative leader of the Île-de-France region around Paris.

Meanwhile, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen will be hoping she can replicate her popularity in 2017, when she made it through to the final round against Mr Macron.

The French President has continued setting out policies during his re-election campaign, with his government confirming this week that he will raise France’s retirement age from 62 to 65 if he remains in office.

However, alongside his domestic agenda, the French leader is also currently occupied by Russia’s war in Ukraine, a crisis which may affect how the French electorate cast their ballots, according to a European political scientist at the London School of Economics.

Professor Michael Bruter, director of the Electoral Psychology Observatory, told that voters hoping to oust Mr Macron may now have changed their minds because of the crisis.

He said: “I think that because it is such a major conflict and the second major crisis coming after the COVID-19 crisis, there is a sort of intuitive feeling by many people who would have considered some of the alternatives to Macron in the last few weeks before Ukraine, but now feel that it is just not the time to change the captain.

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“You don’t do that in the middle of a crisis. You don’t do it in the middle of a war.

“Also, Macron is by far perceived as the most reliable crisis manager of all the candidates.”

Mr Macron has been a vocal figure since Russia invaded Ukraine last month in an unprovoked act of military aggression and has spoken to President Vladimir Putin several times.

This week, the French leader gathered EU leaders at Versailles to discuss their response to the conflict, which has killed hundreds of civilians and has seen more than 2.5 million people flee Ukraine, according to UN figures.

During the summit, Mr Macron poured cold water on the nation’s bid to join the EU, although left the door open to it joining the 27-nation bloc in the future.

Professor Bruter claimed that Mr Macron’s interventions over the Ukraine crisis resonate with the French people.

He said: “They care about the situation in Ukraine, of course, as we do everywhere.

“I think that can be risky in the sense of being worried about it.

“I think that there is a general sense in European public opinion in general – just as true in Poland or in Italy, as it would be in France – that Putin will not stop at anything.

“That somehow this will have to be resolved one way or another.

“There is definitely a sense of worry about Putin attacking civilians and about him potentially using chemical weapons or even – God forbid – nuclear weapons.”

He added: “So, I think it creates a sense of tension in general, or a gravity really about the situation.”



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