French election: Emmanuel Macron 'to blow Marine Le Pen out of the water’ in second round

Not even a terrorist attack could increase Front National's chances, experts believe

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Monday 24 April 2017 13:02
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French Election: Macron and Le Pen to fight for presidency

Emmanuel Macron will “blow Marine Le Pen out of the water” as the French presidential elections head to a second round of voting, leading politics experts believe.

The centrist made historic gains in the first round, with his independent En Marche! campaign receiving 23.8 per cent of the vote, closely followed by the National Front candidate on 21.5 per cent.

However, despite the tight margin, experts believe there are very few scenarios that could put the brakes on Mr Macron's charge to the Élysée Palace.

French politics expert Dr Rainbow Murray, from Queen Mary University of London, told The Independent Mr Macron is set to "blow Le Pen out of the water" and said it would take a scandal of "significant proportion" to ruin his chances.

“The presidency is Macron’s for the taking. Le Pen is too divisive and she does not have the majority of the electorate that she would need,” she said.

“An unprecedented scandal is the only scenario, as I see it, that could halt Macron’s chances, even another terrorist attack I think wouldn't change the outcome.”

Emmanuel Macron has consistently polled above 60 per cent in the second round of voting

The chart above, created for The Independent by statistics agency Statista, shows Mr Macron polling at 63.1 per cent on average in the second round, versus Ms Le Pen’s 36.9 per cent score.

French politics expert and fellow at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) Dr Joseph Downing said all the signs point to a Macron presidency being a “safe bet”.

“I think he is going to do a good enough job of reaching out to voters of other parties so I don’t think it will be tight in the second round at all,” he told The Independent.

“I think he will take between 65 and 75 of the final vote, which is good, but at the same time the National Front have only got into the second round twice in living memory.

“It is historic and unprecedented that two people in the second round do not represent established parties, the fact that Macron can do well really does show the fragility of the system.”

While Mr Macron remains the clear favourite to triumph in the second round, Dr Murray says his success in office, and ability to satisfy the electorate, will hinge on his parliamentary majority.

“The big issue is whether he has a Parliament that supports him. Otherwise there will be gridlock, and if there is gridlock, that plays to Le Pen’s advantage in 2022, which I think is the main target for her,” she said. “If he doesn't deliver then voters are going to be really fed up.”

Sunday’s vote marks the end of a political era in France dominated by the two major parties.

Candidates from Les Républicains and Parti Socialiste, Francois Fillon and Benoit Hamon, were unable to cut through and both suffered defeat, polling in third and fifth place respectively.

However, both have since urged voters to rally round Mr Macron in the second round of voting on 7 May.

Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who polled in fourth place on 19.6 per cent, refused to endorse another candidate.

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