Macron could be ‘more vulnerable than he seems’ as French election approaches

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Mr Macron is yet to formally announce his candidacy for the 2022 elections, but those following the race to the Élysée Palace do not expect him to bow out of the running. Mujtaba Rahman, European director for the Eurasia Group, took to social media to run through the election candidates and their popularity with the French electorate, noting Macron’s strong, but not untouchable, position at the top of opinion polls.

Mr Rahman tweeted on Friday: “With 65 days to the first round, the race is stable, even frozen. @EmmanuelMacron remains well ahead of the pack.

“It’s no wonder he’s reluctant to declare formally and waken up a slumbering campaign.”

He added: “The centre-right candidate Valérie Pécresse – widely seen as the only candidate capable of beating Macron in the 2-place second round – seems to have run out of steam.

“Marine Le Pen has edged ahead of her in most polls. Little sign of recovery on the Left.

“The other far-right candidate Eric Zemmour – who has been targeting Pécresse with a nasty Twitter campaign smearing some of her centre-right allies as being “soft on Islam” – is edging up for the first time since his support melted down in December.”

Last month, Mr Zemmour was found guilty of racist hate speech after he went on a tirade against child migrants unaccompanied by an adult.

He was fined €10,000 to be paid every day €100 chunks for 100 days.

Failing to pay would mean he risks jail time.

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“This is confirmed by IFOP poll which showed only 52% had discussed the campaign with family & friends compared to 78% at this stage in 2017 election.

“Opinionway found the 3 most common states-of-mind were lassitude (41%), gloom (34%) & suspicion (28%).”

On Tuesday, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said Mr Macron would wait for urgent crises to abate before announcing whether he will stand for re-election.

He said: “There are a lot of events at the moment that require his full attention… and do not give him much scope to express himself as a campaigner.”

He added: “The French wouldn’t understand if these days the president were to express himself on his election campaign.”

Political scientist Andrew Glencross explained to that maintaining opacity on his campaigning attentions is likely to be a tactical ploy by the incumbent.

He said: “He’s playing cat and mouse because once he declares as an official candidate his time on TV gets counted as a potential campaign time.”

He added Macron’s opponents, like Marine Le Pen, are likely to pounce on the president’s reluctance to take hard-line stances and his tightening of bonds between France and the EU.

He commented: “He’s still seen as being soft on things such as immigration – all of those things then they can still be used against him.”

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