Polls had predicted that Macron and Le Pen would be in the run-off. But the number of people who voted for Le Pen was higher than expected. Why do you think Le Pen has won so many votes?
There are several reasons. The first issue was her active election campaign. She traveled to many cities, became popular, and was able to communicate directly with the people. This interaction reduced the people’s fear of Le Pen’s ideas. Fear of some of the undecided voters, exacerbated by the media and the intellectual and academic currents, abated following her direct interaction with the people.
The second reason was that Le Pen and her father have been active in French politics for 20 years, and they have extensive political connections. To illustrate this, we can compare Le Pen’s position to that of another far-right candidate, Eric Zemmour.
Although, Zemmour had a promising start in his election campaign, his mistakes later made him less popular, but Le Pen made fewer mistakes due to her 20-years of political experience. Sometimes a mistake in election campaigns can change the fate of a candidate. For example, in Germany’s parliamentary elections last year, laughing by the Christian Democratic Party’s candidate Armin Laschet during a speech by the country’s federal president in a flood-stricken town blew his chance to win the elections. His mistake led to the party’s failure in the elections despite its good performance during Angela Merkel’s leadership. During this year’s campaigns, Le Pen made fewer mistakes. These two factors, namely, a successful election campaign and her experience in politics, played a key role in gaining more votes than in the previous elections.
In terms of political sociology, there is the fact that Le Pen is representing part of the political and social current in France, which is concerned about the loss of French values, expansion of immigration and the European Union’s leverage on France.
Therefore, along with her good election campaign, she enjoys a strong social and political base. In political sociology, the votes of the far-right and far-left are called strong votes. That is, the people who vote ideologically. Not only have their numbers not diminished, but they have become stronger due to the recent developments in France. If the Russian military operation in Ukraine had not taken place, and Le Pen had not supported the Russian president, the number of her votes might have been even higher.
All but one of the candidates, who were not successful in the first round of the elections, have supported Macron in the run-off. Can Le Pen surprise France in the second round and win the polls?
In my opinion, Le Pen has used all her capacity to gain votes in the first round, and it would be much more difficult for her to garner more votes than Macron. The second point is that during this election, we saw a hidden current among the public opinion that was moving toward the Melenchon camp. If the other left-wing candidates had withdrawn in favor of Melenchon, it was likely that he would have gone to the second round.
After the election, Melenchon urged his supporters not to cast even one vote for Le Pen. However, it cannot be said that all the leftists would listen to his advice. Therefore, some of the voters will vote in favor of Le Pen. So, we can conclude that Le Pen is facing more challenges than Macron in the way ahead.
It seems that Macron had prepared himself for the second round.
Yes, and that means that the French people and the media have not yet seen the impact of Macron’s destructive activities against Le Pen, and if these activities increase, it will be difficult for Le Pen to gain the undecided votes. The loan received by Le Pen from a Russian bank, her support for Putin, and her weakness in the 2017 televised debates are the issues that Macron can use against her in the coming weeks. I don’t think Macron has a difficult path ahead as Le Pen cannot gain the complete votes of the left.
However, if Macron makes big mistakes in the following two weeks, he may face close competition with Le Pen in the run-off. However, after the first round of elections, Macron’s supporters are trying to frighten the society of Le Pen – a policy which can be effective.
However, the base of the far right has strengthened compared to the past. Will this issue make things more difficult for Macron if he becomes president?
This election and the 2017 election have completed a crisis that began with confrontation of Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen (Marine Le Pen’s father) in 2002, which was the beginning of the damage to the credibility of traditional parties in France. For example, Valerie Pécresse, who was the Republicans’ candidate, garnered very few votes in the election. This means that the political divisions in France are changing and no longer rely on the parties. This is a transition period in France, and it will not be completed as long as the left and Republican parties are formally present in politics. This is the interpretation of the political stalemate that some analysts use for France. This situation will make things difficult for Macron’s future. In the election, a large number of people voted for Macron out of fear of other candidates.