Polls tip Macron for victory
Former finance minister Emmanuel Macron.
Macron would lead the first round of voting with 26.5 per cent, just ahead of Front National leader Marine Le Pen on 26 per cent, before beating her 64 per cent to 36 per cent in the run-off, predicted the Odoxa poll.
Republican hopeful Francois Fillon scored a projected 19 per cent in the first-round voting in the poll, confirming the task faced by the former frontrunner to revive his campaign after numerous fraud allegations.
A Kantar Sofres-Onepoint poll showed a similar trend, with Macron and Le Pen tied on 26 per cent, ahead of Fillon on 17 per cent.
The first round of the election is on April 23 followed by the May 7 run-off.
The pro-globalisation, immigration, European and reform candidate is appealing to both the left and right and is both populist and a member of the educated elite. He is telegenic and attracting voters from the Socialists and the centre-right.
Also standing is Benoit Hamon for the divided Socialist party of the unpopular sitting president Francois Hollande, and left-wing firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon who trail in the polls.
Socialist divisions have favoured the emergence of the former investment banker Macron, who resigned from Hollande’s government in 2016.
In office, the president can negotiate with foreign powers, ratify treaties and decide to go to war without consulting MPs.
The French president appoints the prime minister and the rest of the executive branch if there is a parliamentary majority from the president’s party and can therefore control the legislative agenda. But Macron’s new En Marche party has never competed in an election and Macron has not stood before. It means the parliament is likely to be fragmented and confused, at least initially.
The country is looking unstable with many educated professionals and entrepreneurs having left for London, Brussels and other cities and youth unemployment still high.
Prospects for economic recovery, reducing unemployment and immigration are the themes likely to dominate the campaign.
The French state still controls a larger share of the economy than any other major country, but delivers less in the way of opportunity and social mobility.
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