Defeat for Macron in regional polls opens the presidential race

During a visit to three cities in northern France last week, President Emanuel Macron insisted he was not preaching on Sunday. regional elections“I just continue my work for the nation,” he said. Few believed him. The district of Haute-de-France, north of Paris, is governed Xavier Bertrand, a right-wing presidential hopeful, potentially dangerous opponent for Macron in next year’s Elysee Palace elections.

The president needed a proper election result for his centrist La République en Marche party to squeeze Bertrand’s votes. So he left the bus stop, adding no less than five ministers to the party’s regional list to deepen the appeal, and scheduled his own visit to the area. But in Sunday’s first round of voting, the LREM plummeted, with estimates of just 9 percent in Haute-de-France, and was unable to make it to the June 27 second round of voting. Bertrand won by 41%, putting his far right rival far behind.

At the national level, Macron was the big loser in the poll, although the far-right Rassemblement National, led by Marine Le Pen, did much worse than expected, gaining only 19 percent of the vote, with only one region ahead of the expected six. “Macron’s party, which still does not have a basic organization – the benefits of local action, slipped to fifth place with 11% of the vote – failed to cut the second round in several regions.

Proportional elections for regional assemblies, which have limited powers over transport, schools, and economic development, are an unreliable guide to next year’s presidential race. The turnout was also very low – 33%. But in two ways it was a warm-up for the upcoming big race.

“Emanuel Macron’s ability to stand up to Marine Le Pen is at stake here,” said Chloe Morin, an analyst at the Fondation Jean-Jaures think tank. “For Marine Le Pen, this is about a glass ceiling. He has broken the notion that a large number of elections are invincible for his party.”

Sunday’s election shows that the glass ceiling is still difficult to break, although the far right may still have a chance to win in Provence-Alpes-C Կte d’Azur over the weekend. The adoption of the Regional Council will be another step in the settlement of extreme support, which has softened its political stance in recent months. Le Pen’s rivals hope the disappointing score of the far right will pull the wind out of its sails.

At the same time, Macron has to worry about his most likely rival Bertrand on the center right.

Presenting Himself as the best politician to defeat the fierce Himself has been a key part of Macron’s political strategy from the beginning. He proved it by convincing by winning the post of president in 2017. Polls have consistently shown that he will win the first round of the presidential election in April next year, and in the second round Macron is in an awkward position. They also believe that Bertrand, the former Conservative Minister of Health and Labor, will defeat him more easily than Macron.

Easily evading the far-right north of France, Bertrand stepped up his claim, better able to unite the nation against Le Pen. “Here we have weakened and broken the jaws of the National Front [as the far-right used to be known]”He said on Sunday night. He was now a barrier, he added.

Macron hoped to compete more closely in the French capital to save Bertrand in the second round. But Bertrand did not need his help. The center-right Republicans strengthened their positions vis-:-vis other regions as well, showing that France was strongly conservative, even if the left showed a lower level than expected. Bertrand can expect a big boost in his presidential campaign, assuming that the Republicans will follow him. The fight between Macron and Le Pen has now become a three-way race.

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