Macron and Le Pen clash as election jitters hit markets


Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right Rassemblement national (National Rally) party and candidate for France’s 2022 presidential election, poses during an interview with Reuters at her campaign headquarters in Paris, France, 29 March 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier /File Photo

Join now for FREE unlimited access to


  • The French vote on Sunday in the first round of the presidential election
  • Macron is the favorite in the polls
  • But gap with Le Pen is within margin of error, poll finds
  • Le Pen continues to push to detoxify its image
  • Macron struggles to revive lackluster campaign

Spezet, FRANCE, April 5 (Reuters) – France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has narrowed the gap with Emmanuel Macron enough in the polls ahead of Sunday’s presidential election to shake up financial markets, sought on Tuesday to further detoxify its image.

Macron, meanwhile, strolled through a small town in northwestern France, shaking hands, hugging people and beaming at crowds shouting “Macron President!”, as he seeks to revive a lackluster campaign he started much later than his rival.

Le Pen, whom Macron easily beat with two-thirds of the vote five years ago, has come so close that whoever wins in a likely runoff on April 24 is now within the margin of error, revealed an opinion poll on Monday. Read more

Join now for FREE unlimited access to


Since his resounding defeat in 2017, Le Pen has patiently worked to soften his image, striving to appear as a potential leader rather than a radical anti-system opponent. Read more

Polls show it has worked on a growing number of voters, with one poll indicating the once reviled candidate has become the country’s second most popular politician, something long thought impossible in France.

“I always try to have the most reasonable point of view possible and one that defends the interest of France,” Le Pen said in an interview with France Inter radio, explaining his views on topics ranging from foreign policy to climate change.

But France’s benchmark CAC-40 index lost ground sharply on Tuesday, with traders citing election jitters, while the spread between French and German 10-year government bonds was at its widest in two years.

“The markets woke up to Le Pen,” said Jerome Legras, head of research at Axiom Alternative Investments.

Le Pen continued to improve his pre-first round poll, at 23% against 27% for Macron, according to a poll by OpinionWay and Kéa Partners for the daily Les Echos and Radio Classique.

The poll also showed that 59% of those polled expected Macron to win a second term – which opinion polls still point to as the most likely scenario.


After people in Macron’s own camp raised concerns about his late start to the campaign and Le Pen’s ratings were boosted by months of prospecting in small constituencies, the president spent hours talking with voters on the main square in the Brittany town of Spezet, taking selfies amid cheers and a handful of boos. .

“You can count on me… on my determination. I will, in the days and weeks to come, seek, one by one, the confidence of our compatriots, to (have the mandate to continue) to act in the years to come for our country, for Europe,” he said.

Macron focused a half-hour speech, caught between two crowds, on the crucial importance of Europe for France – and criticized, without naming it, Le Pen’s persistent euroscepticism, underlining his own experience as a statesman.

“Projects that turn their backs on Europe are harmful and deadly… for our future”, he said, concluding with a resounding: “Long live France, and long live Europe!”

While she abandoned plans to leave the euro or the EU, which had deterred many voters from backing her in previous elections, Le Pen has maintained a Eurosceptic stance, with plans to oust the EU by giving preeminence to French law, and replace the bloc with a “European Alliance of Nations”.


Le Pen started his campaign early, with mostly small-scale meetings in small towns, at a time when voters say they want candidates close to them. Read more

“I am campaigning seriously, I have been in the field for six months… others have chosen not to campaign, including the President of the Republic,” Le Pen told France Inter.

Macron only threw his hat in the ring in early March and had few campaign events.

Le Pen, who has gone to great lengths in recent months to emphasize his love of cats more than his anti-immigration views, has not changed the core of his far-right party’s platform.

It would end a number of social aids for foreigners, stop family reunification, give preference to the French for jobs and social housing, ban the hijab in public spaces and expel unemployed foreign workers from France. Read more

She defended those views on Tuesday.

“Being French should give you more rights than being a foreigner,” she said.

But that’s not what she focused on in a campaign pegged to purchasing power, which struck a chord with many voters.

The candidacy of Eric Zemmour, who is even more to the right than Le Pen, and very outspoken about his incendiary anti-immigrant ideas, has on the other hand helped Le Pen to soften his image and seem more acceptable to voters.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to


Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus, Sudip Kar-Gupta; Written by Ingrid Melander, edited by Ed Osmond and Hugh Lawson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Comments are closed.