France’s far-right contender Marine Le Pen is closing the gap on President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the country’s presidential election’s second round, according to a poll released on Tuesday, as voter turnout is expected to fall even more.
The OpinionWay-Kea Partners poll, which was published by Les Echos and Radio Classique, showed Le Pen closing the lead by one point, but Macron still winning the run-off with 54 percent of the vote.
The poll’s turnout prediction fell by 1% to 70%, down from 74.56 percent in 2017, which was already the lowest since 1969.
Macron began work on the “dam” on Monday, a day after Marine Le Pen, France’s far-right leader, emerged as his contender for the final round of the country’s presidential election in less than two weeks.
Dams are mainstream French voters who, in the second round, have set aside political differences and voted for anyone other than a Le Pen in a so-called “Republican front” to deny the far right the president.
However, following Sunday’s first round, in which 32 percent of French voters supported politicians on the extreme right, a record, the dam may be more vulnerable than ever.
Macron, severely chastised for his lacklustre campaign, moved immediately Monday to shore it up, directly fighting Le Pen and her National Rally party in the economically impoverished north, which she dominated on Sunday.
Macron addressed the concerns of Denain’s youth and other social issues in Denain, a city won by Le Pen. He attempted to remind voters of Le Pen’s party’s extreme beginnings by referring to it by its original name, the National Front.
At a campaign event in Yonne, Le Pen said the dam was a deceptive technique to win an election, adding that “it’s a way to save yourself when you don’t deserve it.”
Macron inaugurated his presidency five years ago with a triumphant address against the grand backdrop of the Louvre Museum, promising to unite the French so that there would be “no reason at all to vote for the extremes.”
However, in addition to Le Pen’s second-place finish with 23 percent of the vote, socialist veteran Jean-Luc Mélenchon received 22 percent of the vote on Sunday to finish a strong third.
Mélenchon’s supporters, who are divided between Macron and Le Pen, might potentially help determine the election’s final outcome on April 24.
After five years of Macron, who defeated Le Pen in a runoff election in 2017, the far-right leader emerged stronger than ever. She has successfully “undemonized” her image by focusing constantly on ordinary people’ economic misery.