Emmanuel Macron warned of ‘bellwether’ regional elections – President’s future at risk

Marine Le Pen 'threatening Macron in elections' says expert

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French President Emmanuel Macron has been warned regional elections held at the end of June will be an important barometer for public opinion as they will be the last major election held before the 2022 presidential vote. But pollsters believe National Rally leader Marine Le Pen is set to take several regions in a historic first which could spell disaster for Emmanuel Macron’s reelection chances. The French President has been touring regions to promote his party La République En Marche but was recently slapped in the face when he met with crowds.

Speaking on France 24, reporter Florence Villeminot explained the importance of the regional elections in relation to the future presidential election.

She said: “Regional elections are held with universal suffrage and proportional representation list systems.

“These regional elections are taking place one year before the presidential elections so a lot of people see it as an important barometer to public opinion.

“A bellwether or an indication to what perhaps people could vote in the election next year.”

Ms Villeminot added the regional elections are also an opportunity for French politicians to test out and promote their manifestos among the electorate.

Valerie Pecresse, who is the Conservative Les Republic candidate for the Ild-De-France region, said she is standing on an equal opportunity manifesto and said she would like to expand it to the rest of France if she could. 

Regional seats can be broadly compared to elected counties that have certain devolved powers over their area. 

Mr Macron’s and Ms Le Pen’s parties do not hold any regional seats due to Mr Macron’s party being founded in 2016 when the last elections were in 2015 and Ms Le Pen not being popular enough to win seats.

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But Ms Le Pen has seen her popularity in the polls soar since the last presidential campaign in 2017 where she suffered a defeat against Mr Macron. 

Polls suggest the presidential race may be closer than in 2017 with an Odoxa-Dentsu poll finding 66 percent of the 1,005 French respondents saying they do not want Mr Macron running for office next year.

A Kantar poll also found Mr Macron’s popularity was 35 percent when compared to Ms Le Pen’s 34 percent.

But the French Institute of Public Opinion added to Mr Macron’s election woes when they found Ms Le Pen would win the first round of voting in France with 30 percent of the vote.

Speaking during an election tour, Ms Le Pen said: “I need the regions to accompany the new direction I want to give the country.”

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in the south of France is predicted to be won by Ms Le Pen’s National Rally Party as is Grand Est just outside of Paris. 

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National Rally has seen somewhat of a political shift since the last presidential election with Ms Le Pen toning down the far-right stance of the party. 

Ms Le Pen has sought to distance herself from historic xenophobic comments and positions and has changed from being a eurosceptic to a euro-revisionist. 

Director of Bruges Group Robert Oulds spoke to Express.co.uk about the shift and argued Mr Macron was adopting National Rally’s old policies to be more appealing to the electorate. 

He explained Mr Macron’s stance on “wokeness” and religious fundamentalism would not be uncommon positions for Ms Le Pen several years ago.

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He added: “But we will see if she would ever get the presidency which I doubt because President Macron has stolen her clothes.

“And also her policies plus of course many people will vote for him even if they don’t like him purely to stop her.

“So I cannot see that she would get the presidency.”

The regional elections were due to be held in March this year but were suspended due to the pandemic and the rise of cases in France. 

A total of 18 regions are up for grabs with the second ballot voting being carried out on June 20 and 27.

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