Jonathan Miller

Why Macron’s poll lead is dwindling

Why Macron's poll lead is dwindling
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With eight days to go before the first round of voting in the French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron has just had his worst polling so far. The new numbers show that in the second round of voting, presumed to pit Macron against Marine Le Pen just as in 2017, the president has a lead of only six points (53 per cent to 47 per cent). He famously crushed her 66 per cent to 34 per cent five years ago.

Macron has tried to stay aloof from the presidential campaign and position himself instead as the senior European political leader in the Ukraine crisis. His efforts have been clumsy. He’s fired the head of military intelligence for delivering the assessment that Russia was completely incapable of overrunning Ukraine – so would not try. He’s pleaded with Putin without success.

At home he’s flooding the country with subsidies to conceal fuel inflation, even as his war on Covid seems not entirely won. The revelation that he has shovelled more than a billion euros to his friends at McKinsey hasn’t helped. But his position in the second round seems safe and 'McKinseygate' is slender and will soon be forgotten.

Polls in France are potentially revealing and misleading, often simultaneously. Macron has never seemed as popular as his ratings have suggested. Marine Le Pen’s alleged support has also been exaggerated. It nevertheless seems fanciful that the pair will not be the choice facing voters on April 24.

Le Pen has always been the preferred opponent of Macron and she remains far from convincing as a prospective Madame la Presidente. She is rather dull and ‘insaisissable’ with a project that remains rhetorical rather than practical and even in rhetorical terms, unexciting.

Macron has an ambitious but sketchy record, has annoyed the French people and in many ways united the country against him – but he has the overwhelming support of the media and it would be an astonishing and unlikely outcome for him to be defeated. I’d say he’s still unbeatable.

But it will be an untidy victory and one unlikely to lead to a presidential majority in the National Assembly elections that will follow. We can expect a re-elected Macron to pivot to European and foreign affairs, leaving the messy business of governing France to others. Plus ça change…

Written byJonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller, who lives in Montpellier, is the author of ‘France, a Nation on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ (Gibson Square). His Twitter handle is: @lefoudubaron

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