Macron to kick off election campaign but voters may waver after failure to check Putin

Dan Wootton says Macron has been ‘humiliated’ by Putin

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Macron will hold a rally on March 5 to launch a five-week campaign that will cast him as a reliable statesman against a field of mediocre contenders, the Times reported. The 44-year-old leader will launch his re-election bid with an inaugural campaign rally in Marseille, sources in his centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party told AFP on Wednesday.

Sources told The Times that the French president will descend from the Elysée Palace into the campaign ring close to the March 4 deadline after delaying to devote time to mediating in the Ukraine crisis.

According to the expert, Macron’s long-awaited entry is expected to give new energy to a race that has been under way for months, dominated by three challengers to the right of the centrist president, none of whom has posed a serious threat to his position as favourite.

Macron, a former investment banker and economy minister under Socialist president François Hollande, swept to power in 2017 as an outsider candidate of “neither the right nor the left”, promising wide-ranging reforms to shake up the French economy.

He moved quickly to cut taxes and loosen labour laws in a bid to stoke growth, and pushed through an overhaul of the state-owned railway SNCF despite fierce resistance from labour unions.

According to the reports, Macron has said he still wants to create surprise and will not rest on his laurels in a second term.

François Bayrou, 70, a veteran leader of the political centre who backed Macron in 2017, said his strengths were shown by his steady handling of the pandemic and the credibility he has forged as an energetic head of state at home and abroad.

He said: “The only question that is asked in a presidential election is ‘Does the person you are voting for have the broad shoulders needed to tackle the incredible challenge of leading such a complicated people as the French in times of such great anxiety?’”

Macron reportedly believes that Zemmour, a firebrand television commentator with a penchant for conspiracy theories, has a serious chance of reaching the run-off because of his clever oratory and smooth campaign.

According to the reports, Macron has said he still wants to create surprise and will not rest on his laurels in a second term.
François Bayrou, 70, a veteran leader of the political centre who backed Macron in 2017, said his strengths were shown by his steady handling of the pandemic and the credibility he has forged as an energetic head of state at home and abroad.
He said: “The only question that is asked in a presidential election is ‘Does the person you are voting for have the broad shoulders needed to tackle the incredible challenge of leading such a complicated people as the French in times of such great anxiety?’”
Macron reportedly believes that Zemmour, a firebrand television commentator with a penchant for conspiracy theories, has a serious chance of reaching the run-off because of his clever oratory and smooth campaign.

An Elabe poll yesterday confirmed a trend this month which has seen Zemmour, an anti-Islam polemicist rise towards Le Pen, who remains in second place.

Pécresse, 54, the candidate for the mainstream Republican party, has fallen back five points.
Macron remains steady at 24.5 percent of intentions for the first-round vote, followed by 18 percent for Le Pen, 53, who was defeated in the run-off with Macron in 2017.
Zemmour, 63, is at 13.5 percent, while Pécresse has slipped to fourth place at 11.5 percent after a poor performance at a big campaign rally ten days ago.

All polls continue to show Macron defeating each of the opponents in the second round on April 24, however, the president’s recent actions over Russia could put a dampener on his chances

Professor Julian Lindley-French, an internationally recognised strategic analyst and adviser in defence, who has worked with NATO, hit-out at the French leader, arguing that he had been too focused on his own political prospects with France’s upcoming election.

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He noted that Western European powers including Britain, France and Germany were all “in a mess” over what to do about Putin’s actions.

But, focusing on France, he told Express.co.uk: “Macron is obsessed with his leadership campaign for reelection and is pumping forwards this EU idea of European strategic autonomy, which can only come as a functional power that France doesn’t have.”

Speaking of Macron’s failure to control Putin, both Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon have mocked Macron’s handling of the situation.
Ms Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party, said: “I wondered whether he was really acting as President in this whole process, or whether he was looking to win the Nobel Peace Prize”.#

Left-wing politician Mr Melenchon criticised President Macron’s “dismal record in the whole affair”.

He said: “It is useless to hope that he will do better.”

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