Since their last confrontation in the second round of the 2017 presidential election, Macron and Le Pen have become the symbols of the new configuration of French political life.
It would have been a real thunderclap and it was close to becoming reality. But the leader of France Insoumise and “favourite candidate” of a large part of Africans, will not go to the final of the presidential election whose first round took place on Sunday, April 10.
With 22,% of the votes, Jean-Luc Mélenchon stops short, therefore, at the gates of the second round, to the benefit of his two main opponents: Emmanuel Macron, who collected 27,6% and Marine Le Pen, who obtained 23,%.
The final duel to be held on 24 April between the outgoing president and the leader of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party was widely expected.
Since their last confrontation in the second round of the 2017 presidential election, Macron and Le Pen have become symbols of the new configuration of French political life, now organised into two major blocs: a modernist republican current and another identitarian nationalist one, between which a third grouping the heirs of various left-wing currents, of which Mélenchon now embodies the major figure, seems to want to install itself as the only credible alternative to both.
With an abstention rate of 26%, Sunday’s vote was the most shunned by the French for twenty years.
After the appeals to their supporters to vote for him in the second round launched on Sunday evening by candidates such as the right-wing party Les Républicains’ Valérie Pécresse (4.8%), the Ecologists’ Yannick Jadot (4.7%) and the Socialist Anne Hidalgo (1.7), Emmanuel Macron seems to be the clear favourite to be re-elected to the Elysée in a fortnight’ time.
This is only the third time in the political history of the French Republic that a candidate from the far right has reached the final round of the presidential election. In 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen, father of the far-right candidate and founder of the former National Front (FN), the forerunner of the RN, created a surprise by qualifying for the second round at the expense of the Socialist Lionel Jospin, then outgoing Prime Minister.
But he was beaten by the outgoing president, Jacques Chirac, by a score of over 82%. In the last presidential election in 2017, his daughter and political heiress did better. She obtained more than 33% of the votes in the second round against about 66% for Emmanuel Macron.