VOTERS SCEPTICAL OF CANDIDATES, SAYS POLL
Many don’t think Macron, Le Pen can solve unemployment, security issues or reunite country after months of bitter campaigning
AWEEK before the decisive second round in France’s presidential election, many voters are sceptical that either of the two candidates can solve chronic unemployment or tackle security concerns, a poll published on Sunday found.
The Ifop survey for the Journal
du Dimanche highlights two key battlegrounds as centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right opponent Marine Le Pen enter a final week of campaigning — France’s economy and borders.
Polls predict that Macron, a former economy minister, will win the May 7 run-off with about 59 to 60 per cent.
But, the momentum has recently been with Le Pen, who has clawed back about five percentage points over the past week.
According to the Ifop poll, 45 per cent of voters believed the two finalists would not put an end to unemployment, which had for years stood close to 10 per cent.
And, 36 per cent said neither candidate was able to protect France from attacks.
France has been under a state of emergency since 2015 and has suffered a spate of Islamist militant attacks, mostly perpetrated by young men who grew up in France and Belgium. More than 230 people have been killed in two years.
Days before the first round of voting on April 23, a policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded here in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.
The result of the run-off vote would depend to a large extent on floating voters and the level of abstentions. In the first round, 22.2 per cent of voters abstained, the highest percentage since 2002, when Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, won through to the second round only to be soundly defeated by conservative Jacques Chirac.
This time, if turnout is low in the second round, analysts said Macron could struggle to reproduce the same broad movement against the National Front candidate, citing his mainly freemarket policies at a time when anti-establishment feeling had been on the rise in Europe and the United States.
Left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, with 19.6 per cent of the votes in the first round, has urged his supporters to oppose Le Pen, but has refused to back Macron for the second round.
Le Pen travelled to Marseille on Sunday to speak on the environment, a key issue for Melenchon supporters, while Macron visited the Holocaust memorial here.
The Ifop poll found 42 per cent of voters believed neither Macron nor Le Pen could reunite the country after months of bitter campaigning, while 43 per cent questioned whether either would be able to govern after capturing the Elysee palace.
France returns to the polls in June to select members of the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, where a majority is needed to push through government policies.
Both Macron, who launched a new party a year ago, and Le Pen, whose National Front has only two seats in the National Assembly, have faced questions about their ability to build a parliamentary majority.