French presidential election: Voter apathy may hand Marine Le Pen victory

French presidential election: Voter apathy may hand Marine Le Pen victory, by Charles Bremmer.

In the final dash before Sunday’s presidential runoff, Marine Le Pen has mounted a double offensive in an attempt to close the gap of up to 20 points that separate her from Emmanuel Macron.

She has allied herself with Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a nationalist Gaullist, and softened her pledges to take France out of the euro. That is aimed at bringing in middle-class right-wing voters who like the National Front’s “France-first” line but are turned off by its toxic aura.

At the same time, Ms Le Pen has mounted an all-out campaign to paint Mr Macron as the stooge of the “France-hating” liberal elite that she deems the enemy of the people.

Ms Le Pen’s best hope of winning is for a large slice of the electorate to abstain. Her offensive is aimed at fanning hostility to Mr Macron among left-wing supporters to encourage them to sit out the election. A “neither-nor” movement has emerged among voters of Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leftist who attracted nearly 20 per cent cent of votes in the first round. They are demonstrating under the anti-nationalist, anti-capitalist slogan “Ni patrie, ni patron”
— neither motherland nor boss. …

Her voters are motivated, while many who say that they will back Mr Macron are not so committed. The “republican” reflex, in which voters back the alternative to the Front candidate, is not operating as it has in past elections. Despite the wide gap in voting intentions, Ms Le Pen could win if a record number of voters stayed away from the polls. …

Starting with the 58-42 per cent split in voting intentions, Ms Le Pen could win if 90 per cent of her supporters turned out but only 65 per cent of Mr Macron backers fulfilled their intention to vote, Mr Galam has calculated. Overall turnout in the first round last week was 78 per cent.

hat-tip Stephen Neil