A prominent French political scientist has warned voters not to treat the presidential election as a foregone conclusion because anything can happen before the first round on April 10.
Dominique Reynié, head of influential think tank Fondapol, suggested it was dangerous for voters not to bother running just because opinion polls are pricing in a victory for Emmanuel Macron. The combination of Covid and the war in Ukraine had made the election unpredictable, he said, admitting that even experts in analyzing voting patterns could not reliably call the result.
“It’s not an election like any other and I don’t see the result being certain in any way. We could say one thing today and tomorrow it could be different,” said Reynié, a professor at the prestigious Sciences University. Po from Paris, to foreign reporters last week: “We can’t be sure of anything.”
Macron enjoys a boost in the polls largely attributed to his role as a global intermediary between Moscow and Kyiv.
The latest figures on first-round voting intentions show Macron’s support stabilizing at around 27% – down slightly from last week, but up from before Ukraine invaded Ukraine. Russia. Far-right Marine Le Pen, who backed Vladimir Putin but recently distanced herself, climbed to 21%. The radical left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon climbs to third place with 13%, followed by the majority right candidate Valérie Pécresse at 12% and Éric Zemmour at 10%. Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo is in eighth place with 2% behind sheep farmer Jean Lassalle with 3%, communist Fabien Roussel at 4% and Greens Yannick Jadot at 5%.
That would lead to a Macron-Le Pen runoff – a repeat of the 2017 presidential election – with polls predicting a 55% to 45% victory for Macron.
A survey for The echoes suggested that the cost of living and social protections, including the welfare state, remain top concerns for voters. The war in Ukraine was cited by just over a quarter as a factor that will influence their vote.
“The advantage for Macron is that in this time of war, people rally around the president who is the head of military and foreign policy… and there is the idea that he is not not reasonable in this situation to have a new president who has no experience,” said Reynié.
However, he warned that the “flag factor” could backfire if the economic consequences of the war, particularly soaring fuel prices, hit French voters’ wallets too hard.
Of course, we cannot compare issues like the cost of living with the tragedy in Ukraine, but we have to take them into consideration,” Reynié said.
“The French are shocked by Putin’s aggression and are pro-Ukraine, but it is a difficult and evolving situation. Also, French voters don’t think it’s up to them to pay for it [war] effort. In many countries, this would probably pass for a funny idea, but in France it is often considered that it is not up to them to make the effort but to “the State”, without understanding that “the State” c is “the French”.
“I don’t think people will say ‘oh, too bad for the Ukrainians’, but they might say it’s up to the state to pay for this.”
The world described this presidential race as a “ghost campaign” – over before it had even started – but Reynié said voters who did not show up because they thought it was pointless risked repeating the presidential trauma of 2002, when a combination of abstention and protest votes saw far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen knock out the socialist candidate in the first round.
“On April 10, there could be a strong abstention from moderate voters anti Marine Le Pen but hostile to Emmanuel Macron and this is the largest group of the electorate. If they don’t show up in the first round, thinking it’s a winner, we just don’t know what the consequences will be. What we do know is that high abstention creates irreversible situations and weakens the democratic character of the vote.
Reynié said if Macron wins a second term, he will need a convincing score to push through controversial reforms, including a long-promised overhaul of the pensions system.
“We already know how people will react to contested measures: they will say that we voted for you because there was war in Ukraine; we voted for you because you were against Marine Le Pen; we did not vote for you to make this reform.
He added: “I’m going to take a risk and say that if I had to bet I would bet that Emmanuel Macron will be re-elected but I’m taking a risk because of all the things that I have no control over which could have ramifications.
“Based on opinion polls and voting intentions today, we can say that it is probable but it is only a probability; it would be absurd to say that the re-election of Emmanuel Macron is certain.