February 07, 2020
Is Macron the best guarantor against Le Pen?
Will Emmanuel Macron be the best candidate to defeat Marine Le Pen? Or is Macron becoming the easiest candidate for Le Pen to defeat in the second round in 2022? There is clear nervousness in the Élysée palace as Macron is losing support on the right and can no longer count on the centre-left, writes Cécile Cornudet.
It was the centre-left voters who brought Macron into the Élysée palace in 2017 with their vote to pre-empt Le Pen. Now they reject the idea of voting for Macron ever again no matter the consequences, even if it means Le Pen as president. Two years is a long time in politics, but the disillusionment among Macron's centre-left wing is palpable.
With the pension reform Macron is now about to lose support from the centre-right voters he inherited from Francois Fillon. They were the ones in favour of a radical pension reform, but they are now wondering how the executive caused so much social tensions only to come up with such a compromised pension reform. In the Elabe poll for Les Echos Macron loses 7pp compared to last month, and his popularity down to 44%.
On both sides of the spectrum there are alternative candidates on the horizon. The particularity of the French voting system is that the two candidates with the most votes in the first round compete in the second round for the presidency. This double-stage game throws up strategic questions. Le Pen is the candidate that everyone expects will make it into the second round. Against whom? Yannick Jadot from the Greens is having a go at portraying the Greens as protection against Le Pen. And on the right there are those ready to pick up Macron's disappointed voters, like Xavier Bertrand or François Baroin. The system also shows why abstentions are so important. If the voters who supported Macron last time stay home, he might not have enough votes to beat Le Pen's solid electorate. The idea of a Le Pen presidency no longer seems to spook the left voters as much as it did in the past.
The question for the Élysée palace is now whether Macron should focus on those left voters that are ready to abstain next time, or those from the right that he convinced in the first half of his presidency. At least, Macron's original supporters remain loyal. among them his popularity increased by 5 points, up to 76%.