Macron And Le Pen Face New Test In French Regional Vote

French President’s wife Brigitte Macron, next to French President Emmanuel Macron (L), casts her ballot as she votes at a polling station in Le Touquet, for the second round of the French regional elections on June 27, 2021. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)


France was voting in the second round of regional elections on Sunday after a first round that saw a drubbing for President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party, disappointment for Marine Le Pen’s far-right and record low turnout.

For some observers, the outcome of the June 20 first round raised doubts over whether the 2022 presidential election would come down to a duel between Macron and Le Pen in a run-off long seen as the most likely scenario.

The first-round results marked a boost for the traditional right-wing The Republicans as well as the Socialist Party, who have been squeezed after the centrist Macron surged into power in 2017 with his brand-new Republic on the Move (LREM) party.

Analysts warn against too much extrapolation onto a nationwide scale from the results of the regional elections, which choose the heads of France’s 13 mainland regions from Brittany in the northwest to the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur (PACA) region in the southeast.

But there was cross-party concern over the turnout for last week’s polls, which were shunned by 66.72 percent of voters — a record in modern France.

“What we are seeing is the culmination of a disconnection between voters and the political class,” said Jessica Sainty, politics lecturer at Avignon University, while acknowledging the Covid-19 crisis also played a role in high abstention rate.

The woeful turnout prompted a debate over how to improve participation, with several figures including government spokesman Gabriel Attal suggesting electronic voting could help in future.

According to a poll published Thursday, just 36 percent of voters plan to cast their ballots on Sunday. “France is sulking,” the Le Parisien newspaper said.

Four hours after polls opened, turnout on Sunday stood at the same dismal 12.66 percent as during the first round.

– Far-right eyes breakthrough –

The first-round results put Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) ahead in just one region, PACA, a major disappointment after polls showed a possible breakthrough in several areas.

One of the most closely watched races on Sunday will be whether RN candidate Thierry Mariani can defeat his right-wing rival Renaud Muselier in the region.

Gaining control of a region for the first time would be a huge boost for Le Pen as she seeks to convince voters that the RN — which she has reformed and rebranded since taking over from her firebrand father Jean-Marie — is a serious party of power.

Muselier could be helped by the withdrawal of left-wing candidates in a repeat of the “Republican Front” seen in past presidential elections to block the far-right.

“The idea of a victory for Mariani — even if it is far from being probable — would show that the RN can almost triumph alone over the coalition of all the others and head the powerful executive of a modern region,” said Jerome Sainte-Marie, president of the Pollingvox Institute.

Mariani has been accused by critics of being an admirer of authoritarians like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Prime Minister Jean Castex warned last week that a Mariani victory would be “very serious” for the country.

The RN also came up short in the Ile-de-France region that includes Paris, where its 25-year-old rising star Jordan Bardella failed to trouble right-wing incumbent Valerie Pecresse, who is now expected to easily win the second round.

– ‘Lacks local presence’ –

The first-round results made even more unpalatable reading for Macron and his LREM, confirming the party’s failure to put down local and regional roots despite controlling the presidency and lower house of parliament.

Despite sending several ministers to campaign and Macron himself embarking on a nationwide tour — that saw him slapped by an onlooker at one point — in some regions LREM did not muster the required 10 percent to make round two.

“2022: What if it wasn’t them?” asked the headline in the left-wing Liberation newspaper over a picture of Macron and Le Pen.

LREM has almost no chance of winning control of a single region and is currently just number five among political parties in France.

The Socialists are expected to pick up some regions, partly due to support from the far-left France Unbowed party.

“LREM lacks a local presence, but in 2017 that did not prevent them from winning the presidential and legislative elections,” said Sainty.

Voting began at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) on Sunday, with the last polling stations due to close 12 hours later.


France’s Le Pen Ordered To Undergo Psychiatric Tests Over IS Tweets

Marine Le Pen gestures as she delivers a speech at a meeting in Fréjus, southern France on September 16, 2018. YANN COATSALIOU / AFP


French far-right leader Marine Le Pen voiced outrage Thursday after being ordered to undergo psychiatric tests for having posted pictures of atrocities committed by the Islamic State group on Twitter.

Le Pen shared the gruesome images in December 2015, a few weeks after IS jihadists killed 130 people in attacks in Paris, sparking widespread condemnation in France.

The 50-year-old leader of the National Rally (formerly National Front), who lost to Emmanuel Macron in last year’s presidential vote, was stripped of her parliamentary immunity over the pictures and charged with circulating messages that “incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity”.

On Thursday, she tweeted copies of a court order ordering her to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Dated September 11, it calls for the tests to be carried out “as soon as possible” to establish whether she “is capable of understanding remarks and answering questions”.

“It’s crazy,” fumed Le Pen, herself a trained lawyer. “This regime is really starting to be frightening,” she tweeted, suggesting that the case was part of a government plot to discredit her.

“I thought I had been through it all: well, no! For having condemned Daesh (IS) horrors in tweets, the ‘justice system’ is putting me through psychiatric tests! Just how far will they go?” she asked.

Le Pen had shared the images in response to a French journalist who drew a comparison between IS and her party.

One of the pictures showed the body of James Foley, an American journalist beheaded by the Sunni extremists.

Another showed a man in an orange jumpsuit being run over by a tank, and a third showed a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.

“Daesh is this!” Le Pen wrote in a caption. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for IS.

She later deleted the picture of Foley after a request from his family, saying she had been unaware of his identity.

If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($87,000).

Le Pen has denounced the case against her, which falls under a law punishing violent images that can be viewed by a minor, as a violation of her freedom of expression.

Another National Rally lawmaker, lawyer Gilbert Collard, has also been charged for tweeting pictures of IS atrocities.


French Parliamentary Elections: Le Pen Wins Seat

Far-right Leader of National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, has won a seat in the French parliament with her party getting at least six lawmakers.

Addressing supporters chanting her name and “We have won! We have won!, Le Pen said, “Voters of the 11th district elected me by almost 58 percent and 66 percent for the town of Henin-Beaumont.”

She, however, noted that the election was characterised by absenteeism.

“Abstention has today broken new records. The low turnout shows that mistrust towards politics has reached a peak. The election of Mr (Emmanuel) Macron to the presidency of the Republic seems to have sent the country in a state of indifference and weariness vis-a-vis the Republic, which is very worrying,” she said.

Massive abstention considerably weakens the legitimacy of the new National Assembly and this five-year presidency starts with pretty bad foundations. Because, in addition to the weak turnout, there is the very serious problem of representativeness of the chamber that was elected tonight.”

Although Macron’s party swept to victory at the polls, the far-right politician insisted that the restructuring of political life in France had started.

She said, “In the end, even if it is not reflected in the new parliament’s ratio of power, the restructuring of political life has started. The ancient dominant parties of French political life have become satellite parties of a movement which is now swallowing them all up.

“Faced with that bloc which represents the interests of oligarchy, faced with this colossus of the system, largely fed with the help of all the media and financial representatives in our country, we are the only force of resistance to the dilution of France, its social model and identity.”

Macron’s Party Fights For Control Of France’s National Assembly


Emmanuel Macron’s party “La Republique En Marche”, in English known as the “Republic on the Move”, has yet to secure the majority of candidates in the country’s National Assembly.

The battle has only just begun for Emmanuel Macron’s party. The presidential election that they claimed victory over on Sunday is just the first hurdle of many. The next obstacle is to secure a majority after the June Parliamentary election.

The next obstacle is to secure a majority after the June Parliamentary election.
On Thursday, the party’s Secretary General Richard Ferrand released a list of 428 candidates.

Ninety-five per cent of the candidates are members of the National Assembly, which works well with Macron’s direction of reshaping the French political environment. However, some experts pointed out that the candidates may also be greatly influenced by their own objective circumstances.

However, some experts pointed out that the candidates may also be greatly influenced by their own objective circumstances.

“French laws state that if an NA member is to work as a mayor, he will have to choose only one title from the two options. So many people gave up their membership,” explained Dominique Reynie, Professor of Sciencespo and CEO of Fondapol.

Moreover, 52 per cent of the people on the candidate list are new to the world of politics, made up of everyday workers such as teachers and businessmen.

Experts say that this move may agree with some of the voters’ request for working professional NA members, but other voters may not believe that these candidates have enough experience in politics.

Experts say that this move may agree with some of the voters’ request for working professional NA members, but other voters may not believe that these candidates have enough experience in politics.

“It takes some risk. Perhaps some of the candidates of ‘La Republique En Marche’ (Macron’s party) have a stronger capability compared to other ones. But it’s difficult for them to work in a political election, compared to experienced National Assembly members,” said Reynie.

For the candidates given by “La Republique En Marche”, 24 of them are NA members who will fulfil their tenures, from left-wing parties.

Public opinions indicate that if Macron’s administration wants to give their final name list with 577 candidates, they will require a further 149 names, which will leave some space for right-wing parties to enter the NA.

However, the members of “La Republique En Marche” and right-wing parties are playing a waiting game as the candidate for the French Prime Minister (PM) still remains unconfirmed.

“If Macron announces a PM from right-wing parties, probably more members of Republican Party will shift to support La Republique En Marche. However, it is highly doubtful to expect over 100 people to take the same action,” said Reynie.

The deadline for submitting the list of all candidates is May 19. Now opinion polls show that the new “Republique En Marche”, which was formerly known as “En Marche”, has recently gained much more support, than the right-wing Republican party and far-right-wing “Front National”.

However, there is still a huge divergence between left-wing and right-wing parties on the issue of allying or resisting with “La Republique En Marche”.

In addition, some parties like “Front National” also face a huge dilemma – one of the only two NA members in the party, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, niece of Marine Le Pen, decided to remove herself from the election, which will change the situation completely.

“It is a bad news for ‘Front National’, because Marion is very popular. She holds similar political opinions to the voters who support the party,” said Reynie.


French Elections: Voters Decide Between Macron And Le Pen


French voters are choosing their next President on Sunday after an unpredictable campaign that has divided the country.

The second round contest pits centrist Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, against the far-right nationalist marine, Le pen.

Citizens in some overseas territories and many French expats abroad have begun voting.

The polls opened in metropolitan France in the early hours of Sunday, even as polling stations will remain open in some big cities until later in the day with early estimates of the result due to be reported immediately after they close.

The two candidates, who topped a field of 11 presidential hopefuls in the first round election on April 23, have offered voters starkly different visions of France.

The run-off will be keenly watched across Europe, ahead of elections in Germany and the UK and as Britain negotiates its exit from the EU.

Meanwhile, both candidates have cast their votes.

France’s Roller-Coaster Election Campaign Draws To A Close

France’s 2017 election campaign has felled some of the biggest beasts in French politics, and left two relative outsiders competing for the top job — one who opposes globalisation and the EU, the other a total unknown to the general public the last time the country went to the polls.

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron go head-to-head in the second round of the presidential election on Sunday, with Macron the runaway favourite to win and take the Elysee.

Current President Francois Hollande had been widely expected to run for re-election until he bowed out before Christmas to leave his Socialist party – bruised and battered after five years in power – to find a successor.

Macron Source: Official Leweb Photos

On the right, former prime minister Francois Fillon emerged as the surprise winner of the conservative party’s primary, beating former president Nicolas Sarkozy, and became the favourite in the presidential election.

But his campaign derailed spectacularly on January 25 when the Canard Enchaine newspaper published allegations he had kept his wife on the public payroll for years without her ever having actually done any work.

He fiercely denied the allegations but the damage was done; prosecutors opened an investigation and his poll ratings plummeted.

The party flirted with deposing him in favour of a unity candidate but when no obvious replacement emerged they rallied round, with Fillon defiant at a rain-soaked rally in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower on March 5.

Fillon’s campaign woes left space on the centre ground for Macron whose political party – “En Marche!” Or “Onwards” – included an army of volunteers, many of them disaffected former supporters of the mainstream left and right parties.

Buoyed by success in European and regional elections after a successful “detoxification” of the party brand, Le Pen was widely expected to make the run-off round.

She had legal troubles of her own, investigated for misuse of EU funds to pay for party assistants but scored a diplomatic coup with a visit to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.

The campaign of the official Socialist party candidate Benoit Hamon failed to take off and firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon reaped the benefits with a well-executed internet campaign, packed meetings and a multi-city rally at which he appeared by hologram.

An attack on the Champs Elysees which killed police officer Xavier Jugele halted campaigning two days before the end of the first round.

Macron came out top of the April 23 vote with 24 percent, joined in the run-off by Le Pen.

The traditional Socialist and conservative parties of left and right were battered, with politicians on all sides calling for voters to back Macron to bar Le Pen’s path to power.

The campaign for the second round was rocky for both candidates, with Le Pen scoring early points on a visit to a Whirlpool factory in Northern France slated for closure at which she posed for selfies with workers, before Macron was booed at the same plant hours later.

But Le Pen was widely seen as coming off worse in a TV debate aired on May 3 and Macron’s poll lead widened.

An Ifop-Fiducial survey on Friday afternoon, hours before official campaigning closed at midnight, showed Macron on course to win 63 percent of votes in the second round and Le Pen 37 percent, the best score for Macron recorded by a major polling organization since mid-April.

If he does win, his victory would mark a generational shift at the top and at 39 he would become the youngest president in the history of France’s Fifth republic.


Macron Claims Massive Computer Hack, Emails Leaked Online

Macron Source: Official Leweb Photos

Leading French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign said on Friday night that it had been the target of a “massive” computer hack that dumped its campaign e-mails online.

The incident occurred one and a half days before voters choose between the centrist candidate and his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen.

As much as nine gigabytes of data were posted on a profile called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a site that allows anonymous document sharing. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for posting the data or if any of it was genuine.
In a written statement, Macron’s political movement En Marche! (Onwards!) confirmed that it had been hacked.

“The En Marche! Movement has been the victim of a massive and co-ordinated hack this evening which has given rise to the diffusion on social media of various internal information,” the statement said.

An interior ministry official declined to comment, citing French rules that forbid any commentary liable to influence an election, which took effect at midnight on Friday.

Former economy minister Macron’s campaign has previously complained about attempts to hack its e-mails, blaming Russian interests in part for the cyberattacks.

Researchers with security firm Trend Micro in Tokyo, said they had found evidence that the spy group, dubbed “Pawn Storm”, targeted the Macron campaign with email phishing tricks and attempts to install malware on the campaign site at least in four separate attempts.