Macron mobilizes in Paris eight days before the presidential election
President Emmanuel Macron attended his first major rally of the French election campaign on Saturday, eight days before the first round of voting, as the belated momentum of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen fuels the prospect of an upheaval .
Mr Macron addressed a packed crowd at a stylish campaign event in Paris, where he bumped his fists with some of his flag-waving supporters as music and fireworks accompanied his arrival on the scene.
Building on the achievements of the past five years, including tax cuts and low unemployment, Macron vowed to tackle a growing cost-of-living crisis that voters say is a higher priority than the war in Ukraine.
Mr Macron, 44, took advantage of the Russian invasion to delay his entry into the race until the last moment and show political acumen which analysts say helped him to take a dominant position in the race .
“We are here at this grave moment, marked by war, to remind ourselves that France always has something to say to the world,” he said.
The latest surveys suggest he and Ms Le Pen are on course to qualify for the second round in what would be a repeat of the second round in 2017, which Mr Macron won by a landslide victory.
But polls show Mr Macron has a narrower lead this time and suggest Ms Le Pen is strengthening her position ahead of nationalist rival Eric Zemmour, centre-right Valérie Pecresse and left-wing Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Meanwhile, a furore over the large sums of money the government is spending on US management consultancy McKinsey has rocked a chairman who has struggled to shake off a reputation as a chairman for the wealthy.
Ms Le Pen called the McKinsey revelations a scandal and said they showed “Mr Macron’s mistrust of the French people whose opinion he considers useless”.
His campaign has focused on social policy issues such as schools and housing in the final days of the race as a cost of living crisis unfolds across Europe.
“There is a great momentum, a hope emerging as the campaign draws to a close,” said Ms. Le Pen, whose efforts to moderate her image coincided with the emergence of Mr. Zemmour to her right.
Mr Macron’s five-year term has been overshadowed by crises such as the coronavirus pandemic, war in Ukraine and sometimes violent “yellow vest” protests, but he used the rally to proclaim progress on issues social issues such as unemployment.
He has also used France’s six-month presidency of the European Council, which coincides with the election, to advance his longstanding agenda of greater “European sovereignty” around the world, while some of his rivals were tarnished by their records. statements favorable to Russia.
The president thanked activists from his La République en Mouvement party, which shook up French politics after it was founded in 2016, for working for him despite what he admitted was impatience at not officially entering the party. the race before March 3.
Voters from mainstream parties have previously put aside their differences to keep Ms Le Pen and her father Jean-Marie Le Pen out of power. The top two candidates from the first round on April 10 will advance to the second round on April 24.
The Socialist Party, relegated from first to fifth place in the last elections, has nominated the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, while the European deputy Yannick Jadot is running under an environmentalist banner.
Mr. Melenchon will address an outdoor rally in Toulouse on Sunday after beating Ms. Pecresse and Mr. Zemmour to third place in the polls.
Updated: April 02, 2022, 3:28 p.m.