Emmanuel Macron 'wants to avoid the debate' says Jacobelli
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Emmanuel Macron headed to Marseille this weekend to hold his biggest rally of the second round so far. The incumbent is gunning for the crucial left-wing and youth vote as he fights to clinch a second term amid the rising threat of far-right rival Marine Le Pen. Macron and Le Pen will hold one debate on Wednesday evening, which will be aired by French broadcasters France 2 and TF1, before the country goes to the polls again next Sunday.
Most losing candidates urged their supporters to back Macron, specifically to prevent Le Pen from winning the presidency.
Nonetheless, Macron faces a battle to convince the French public, Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale told Express.co.uk recently.
Speaking from Dordogne during the parliamentary recess, he said: “The frustration, particularly in the part of France that I’m in at the moment, is that they’re fed up with Macron.
“They don’t believe that Macron has delivered.
“There’s this assumption that the Dordogne, for example, is wealthy. Well, the bit that I’m in, well a lot of western France, is agricultural.
“There’s a relatively low standard of living, relatively low incomes, they eat well and they drink well because that’s their priority, but in terms of the normal benchmarks of big cars or lots of televisions or whatever, those aren’t the priorities that they have.”
He added that there is a “grassroots resentment” of the French elite, saying: “I think Macron has managed to epitomise the French in-power government elite, and as with the United Kingdom, belts are tightening.
“It’s not only the UK that’s suffering from rising prices.
“You go to the shops here and you have to raise a second mortgage to fill your shopping basket.
“So, it’s hitting as hard probably in France as it is in the UK.”
Asked who he thought would come out on top, Sir Roger said: “Will Marine Le Pen win? No, I don’t think she will.
“Should she? No, I don’t think she should.”
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He added that a “Faragist populist element” is taking hold in Europe, as demonstrated by Viktor Orban’s recent victory in Hungary and the rise of the far-right in other parts of the continent too.
Poland’s de facto leader Jarosław Kaczyński continues to mount an anti-EU agenda, and continues his culture war attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and abortion rights.
In Italy, far-right Brothers of Italy are neck and neck with the country’s Democratic Party in Politico polling.
In Sweden, the populist Sweden Democrats party have joined Le Pen in wishing to reform the EU from the inside.
Finally, the Spanish far-right Vox party entered a regional government for the first time last month, and its public support is on the rise.
Addressing the rise of the far-right in France, Sir Roger said: “That’s not too much of a problem if the solid centre is a solid centre.
“But if the centre starts to crumble, and people start to say well we’ve had enough of Macron, the socialists are no use, let’s try and give Marine Le Pen a shot of it.
“If that were to happen, that would be, I think, quite seismic in terms of European politics.
“But I don’t believe it’ll happen.”
Despite the rise of the far-right in France, there remains a strong left-wing presence too.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the far-left Eurosceptic leader of La France Insoumise, received 22 percent of the first round vote, only one percent less than Le Pen.
Mr Mélenchon has, however, refused to publicly back Macron in the run-off election next week.
He has called on his supporters not to cast “a single Le Pen vote” but stopped short of calling on them to vote for Macron.
Speaking to The Telegraph in Marseille, so-called Mélenchonist Marlène Albo said she is torn over how to vote next week.
She said: “The choice is between the plague or cholera.
“We don’t want Marine to pass but we don’t want Macron either.
“There’s a huge hesitation over whether to cast a blank ballot or Macron. I’m still undecided.”
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