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French election 2022 - live: Macron and Le Pen trade blows as political landscape labelled ‘field of ruins’

·20 min read

French presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have attacked each other at the start of their run-off campaigns, after coming first and second respectively in the initial vote.

With just under two weeks to go until the final round, each politician wasted no time in casting aspersions against their rival.

Emmanuel Macron, if by some mischance he was re-elected, would feel totally free to continue his policy of social wreckage,” Ms Le Pen claimed, before turning to the cost-of-living crisis, her usual political line of attack.

For his part, Mr Macron accused the leader of the far-right National Rally party of being a “demagogue”, who told people what they wished to hear.

Responding to the first round results, Gérard Araud, a former French diplomat who is now a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, said his country’s political life was now “more than ever a field of ruins”.

“Macron is leading a centrist block of nearly 30 percent, but his only credible adversaries are extremists,” Gérard Araud explained.

Key Points

  • Macron on 27%, Le Pen on 23% after first round voting

  • President campaigns in northern France with warning ‘nothing decided yet’

  • Poll puts Macron on course to win 55% in run-off

  • French leader faces fight to win over country’s angry left

  • Le Pen says she would establish a ‘government of national unity'

Macron says he would travel to Kyiv if ‘useful'

19:15 , Rory Sullivan

Emmanuel Macron has said he will travel to Kyiv or anywhere else if it is “useful”.

“I am ready to go anywhere and even to Kyiv if it could be useful, if it would help start a dialogue,” he told BFM television on Monday.

The statement comes not long after the French president was criticised by the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki for talking to Vladimir Putin in attempt to end the war in Ukraine.

“What have you achieved? Did you stop any of these actions? You do not negotiate with criminals, you fight them,” Mr Morawiecki said.

Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who later served as the president of the European Council, took umbrage at his countryman’s words.

Addressing the French leader, he tweeted: “Mr President, dear Emmanuel, no decent Pole supports Madame le Pen, just like no decent Pole supports Orbán or Putin. Poles, in their overwhelming majority are for Europe, Ukraine and freedom, regardless of the rubbish PM Morawiecki says.

Macron and Le Pen exchange bitter words

18:53 , Rory Sullivan

French presidential hopefuls Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have strongly rebuked each other at the start of their run-off campaigns.

The day after the pair were chosen as the final two candidates in the race, each wasted no time in casting aspersions against their rival.

“Emmanuel Macron, if by some mischance he was re-elected, would feel totally free to continue his policy of social wreckage,” Ms Le Pen claimed in a rural area southeast of Paris, drawing attention to the cost-of-living crisis.

While Mr Macron accused her of being a “demagogue”.

“Mrs. Le Pen is a demagogue. She is someone who tells people what they want to hear when they want to hear it,” he told La Voix du Nord newspaper on Monday.

Photos: Macron campaigns in northern France

18:23 , Rory Sullivan

As we mentioned earlier, Emmanuel Macron has spent time campaigning today in northern France, where his far-right rival Marine Le Pen has stronger support than he does.

Here are some photos from his visit:

The French president arrives in Carvin on 11 April (REUTERS)
The French president arrives in Carvin on 11 April (REUTERS)
Emmanuel Macron poses with construction workers in Denain, northern France (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Emmanuel Macron poses with construction workers in Denain, northern France (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A Macron poster in Paris is defaced with a sticker describing him as the ‘president of the rich' (AP)
A Macron poster in Paris is defaced with a sticker describing him as the ‘president of the rich' (AP)

French politics now ‘a field of ruins’, says former ambassador to US

18:00 , Rory Sullivan

A former French ambassador to the US has described the political situation in his country as “a field of ruins” after yesterday’s vote.

Aside from the current president Emmanuel Macron, no centrist politician received substantial public support. But populist politicians - Marine Le Pen of the far right and Jean-Luc Melenchon of the far left - did.

Responding to the first round results, Gérard Araud, who is now a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, said: “French political life is more than ever a field of ruins: Macron is leading a centrist block of nearly 30 percent, but his only credible adversaries are extremists.”

“All polls show so far that Macron should win but with such a small margin that the result may be reversed in the second round of voting on April 24. His victory is anything but guaranteed,” he added.

Numbers moving in right direction for Macron, says analyst

17:43 , Rory Sullivan

Emmanuel Macron’s polling figures are heading in the right direction after the vote on Sunday, one analyst has said.

Mujtaba Rahman, who works for the Eurasia Group, a geopolitical risk firm, noted that the latest IFOP rolling poll estimated that Macron would win 52.5 per cent of the vote in the final round, up from its previous prediction of 51 per cent .

“Overall, suggests numbers are moving in Macron’s direction,” Mr Rahman said.

French centre right party fighting to survive

17:20 , Rory Sullivan

Les Republicains were once a dominant force in French politics.

However, party leader Valerie Pecresse gained less than 5 per cent of the vote in the first round of the presidential yesterday.

As well as suffering its worst result in modern history, the failure to achieve the 5 per cent threshold means the money the party spent on campaigning will not be partially refunded by the state.

Some struggle to how Les Republicains can recover from this setback. However, party activitists retain their faith in its future.

“I don’t think our party will collapse...If Le Pen loses she is finished and if Macron wins it will be his last mandate so in 2027 there will be the need for something new and we will need to be ready,” Florence Portelli, the spokesperson for Ms Pecresse, said.

A 67-year-old retired lawyer called Jacques also believe Sunday’s result does not spell the end of the party he supports.

“It’s a slap in the face, but people are no longer thinking rationally and want to be sold a dream,” he said. “There is a risk the party will explode, but we need to regroup now.”

Who is Marine Le Pen?

16:56 , Rory Sullivan

National Rally leader Marine Le Pen is now in a two-horse race against Emmanuel Macron to become France’s next president.

But who is the 53-year-old far-right politician? And how has she attempted to soften her imagine despite pursuing policies targeting Muslims and immigrants.

My colleague Namita Singh takes a closer look:

Who is Marine Le Pen? French far-right leader into run-off election with Macron

Macron predicted to edge Le Pen, according to latest poll

16:34 , Rory Sullivan

Emmanuel Macron will narrowly defeat rival Marine Le Pen in the second round presidential vote on 24 April, the latest poll suggests.

The IFOP-Fiducial survey estimates that the incumbent president will win reelection with 52.5 per cent of the vote in the head-to-head against his far-right competitor.

The poll of 1,003 repondents was carried out between 10 and 11 April, with the margin of error falling between +/- 1.4 and 3.1 points.

Roughly a quarter of the French electorate are predicted to abstain from the second round vote.

Le Pen says she would establish a ‘government of national unity'

15:55 , Tom Batchelor

Marine Le Pen claims she would establish a “government of national unity” were she to win the French presidency in two weeks’ time.

The far-right National Rally leader tweeted on Monday afternoon: “Elected president, I will set up a government of national unity, with personalities from other political families who share our vision of national independence or the reindustrialisation of the country.”

Ms Le Pen has previously spoken of the desire for a unity government, saying she had a “list of people” who she would want to include, “either in political life or in civil society who share the broad outlines of my policy”.

She said last week that she would not “decide on all the positions definitively, to be able to greet people who would decide to participate in the national unity government”.

Former chancellor hails Macron’s ‘achievement’ in winning first round

15:29 , Tom Batchelor

Who is Marine Le Pen?

16:49 , Rory Sullivan

The National Rally leader Marine Le Pen is now in a two-horse race with Emmanuel Macron to become France’s next president.

But who is the 53-year-old far-right politician? And how is she trying to soften her image despite still pursuing policies targeting Muslims and immigrants?

My colleague Namita Singh takes a closer look:

Who is Marine Le Pen? French far-right leader into run-off election with Macron

Le Pen to meet grain farmer after campaign team meeting on Monday

14:51 , Tom Batchelor

Marine Le Pen will make a campaign trip on Monday afternoon to a grain farmer in Thorigny-sur-Oreuse. She is expected around 5pm.

Earlier she was pictured in Paris after a meeting with her campaign staff.

French far-right party presidential candidate Marine Le Pen leaves after a meeting with her campaign staff members in Paris (AFP via Getty Images)
French far-right party presidential candidate Marine Le Pen leaves after a meeting with her campaign staff members in Paris (AFP via Getty Images)
Marine Le Pen came second in Sunday’s vote with 23.15 per cent (AFP via Getty Images)
Marine Le Pen came second in Sunday’s vote with 23.15 per cent (AFP via Getty Images)
Marine Le Pen advanced on Sunday in the first round of voting in the country’s election (AFP via Getty Images)
Marine Le Pen advanced on Sunday in the first round of voting in the country’s election (AFP via Getty Images)

‘I see that the country is divided,' says Macron

14:42 , Tom Batchelor

Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged France is “divided” as he appealed to left-wing voters during a walkabout in Denain, south of Paris.

“I’m trying to make clear my programme is fair and socially-minded,” he told locals, “I see that the country is divided.”

Macron faces fight to win over France’s angry left in election race against Le Pen

14:16 , Tom Batchelor

France’s Emmanuel Macron faces a gruelling two-week campaign season and a fight for his political life after coming out on top of the first-round of presidential elections on Monday but facing a hostile, sceptical electorate.

To win against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen on 24 April, Mr Macron must stunt her momentum. But more crucially he must convince angry leftists, Muslims and ethnic minorities who voted for Jean-Luc Melenchon to back him after embracing neoliberal economic policies such as raising the retirement age and flirting with rightwing ideas on immigration and intellectual life.

Read the full analysis from our international correspondent, Borzou Daragahi:

Macron faces fight to win over France’s angry left in election race against Le Pen

‘Everything is possible,’ says councillor with Le Pen’s party

13:59 , Tom Batchelor

Aurelien Lopez Liguori, a municipal councillor with Marine Le Pen’s party in the southern city of Sete, said “now everything is possible” after the results were announced.

The Le Pen party heavyweight Louis Aliot told news broadcaster France Info on Monday that the party would strive to “speak directly to the French about their problems” and how Ms Le Pen would lead the country if elected president.

Mr Aliot accused Emmanuel Macron of stirring up millions of French to take to the streets during the yellow vest protests over perceived economic injustice and of having dismantled public hospitals despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There are plenty of issues on which he will need to explain himself,” Mr Aliot said.

Macron will show ‘fighting spirit’, says ally

13:39 , Tom Batchelor

Senator Francois Patriat, a member of Emmanuel Macron’s party, said the focus was “now on the project and the values”, explaining the strategy consists of being “proud” of what has been done over the past five years, showing “a bit of humility”, and “above all, some fighting spirit”.

Mr Macron will use the next days to “go in the field”, he added.

Prior to Sunday’s first round, Mr Macron was absent from most of the electoral campaign as he spent most of his time focusing on diplomatic efforts over the war in Ukraine.

Preliminary final results give Macron 27.8% and Le Pen 23.2%

13:21 , Tom Batchelor

Marine Le Pen campaigning in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region

12:59 , Tom Batchelor

Marine Le Pen is out campaigning in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region southeast of Paris.

The National Rally leader is spending time in the towns of Yonne and Thorigny-sur-Oreuse, Le Monde reported.

Survival of Republicans at stake, says failed presidential candidate

12:40 , Tom Batchelor

Valérie Pécresse, the failed presidential candidate for The Republicans, has asked supporters to donate money to the party, saying its survival is at stake.

She said the party was in debt to the tune of €7 million after only managing to win 4.79 per cent of the vote, below the 5 per cent needed for her campaign to be paid for by taxpayer funds. She tweeted that €5 million of that had been personally invested by her.

“The results mean we will not be reimbursed by the state,” she said.

“I have launched a national appeal for donations. The survival of the Republican right depends on it.”

Macron brings election campaign to northern town of Denain

12:22 , Tom Batchelor

Emmanuel Macron is campaigning in the northern town of Denain, which once prided itself as the mining and steel capital of France but where in 2019 almost half the population lived in poverty and one in three people of active age were unemployed in 2018.

Marine Le Pen on Sunday won 42 per cent of votes in the town.

Denain’s mayor Anne-Lise Dufour-Tonini welcomes Emmanuel Macron during a one day visit of Hauts-de-France, at the town hall in Denain (AFP via Getty Images)
Denain’s mayor Anne-Lise Dufour-Tonini welcomes Emmanuel Macron during a one day visit of Hauts-de-France, at the town hall in Denain (AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Macron spoke to voters outside Denain town hall (AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Macron spoke to voters outside Denain town hall (AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Macron’s visit to Denain also attracted protesters opposed to another term for the incumbent (AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Macron’s visit to Denain also attracted protesters opposed to another term for the incumbent (AFP via Getty Images)

Macron wins backing of rivals

11:59 , Tom Batchelor

Presidential candidates were quick to show their support for Emmanuel Macron after counting concluded in many regions on Sunday.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, endorsed Mr Macron for the next vote “so that France does not fall into hatred of all against all”.

Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in third, also called on his supporters not to vote for Marine Le Pen. He said: “There must not be one single vote for Le Pen in the second round.”

Far-right candidate Eric Zemmour endorsed Ms Le Pen however.

‘Far right setting the agenda in French politics’ - Chatham House Europe director

11:45 , Tom Batchelor

Hans Kundnani, director of the Europe programme at the Chatham House think tank, said the results showed there had been a “drift to the right in French politics”.

He said: “The results of the first round of the French presidential election confirms two trends in French politics – which also apply across much of the rest of Europe to some extent.

“The first is the realignment of politics around a fault line between centrism and populism. The centre-left Socialist and centre-right Republican candidates both received under 5 percent of the vote – a historic low. The second round will be between Macron and Le Pen as it was five years ago – both of whom see themselves as being ‘beyond left and right’. In other words, they mirror each other. From a democratic point of view, this realignment is disastrous.

“The second trend, which is related to the first, is the drift to the right in French politics. Though the second round will be a repeat of 2017, Le Pen is in a much stronger position this time. Jean-Luc Mélenchon got 22 percent of the vote – which shows that the left is still strong in France, though it has drifted away from the Socialist Party, its traditional vehicle.

“But it is the far right that is now increasingly setting the agenda in French politics – as could be seen by the way that, during the campaign, centre-right candidates like the Republican candidate Valerie Pécresse adopted far-right tropes like the idea of a “great replacement”.

Le Pen wins just 5% of vote in Paris

11:30 , Tom Batchelor

Emmanuel Macron secured more than a third of the vote in Paris, while Marine Le Pen won just 5 per cent in the capital.

However the far-right candidate was more popular in other regions of France.

Ms Le Pen won 33 per cent of the votes in the northern Hauts-de-France region where Mr Macron is campaigning on Monday.

But left-wing candidates were close behind and won a combined 27-28 per cent of the vote in the area.

Poll puts Macron on course to win 55% in run-off

11:17 , Tom Batchelor

New polling puts Emmanuel Macron on course to win the second round of the presidential election with 55 per cent of the vote.

The Opinionway-Kea Partners survey for Les Echos and Radio Classique suggested turnout of 71 per cent in the run-off.

Some 2,174 respondents were asked about their voting preference between April 10-11, with a margin of error of +/- 2.3 pts.

Photos from French election first round voting

11:10 , Tom Batchelor

Emmanuel Macron reacts on stage after partial results were announced on Sunday evening (REUTERS)
Emmanuel Macron reacts on stage after partial results were announced on Sunday evening (REUTERS)
Nearly 50 million French people were called to the polls (Getty Images)
Nearly 50 million French people were called to the polls (Getty Images)
Marine Le Pen speaks during an election night event after the first round of voting (Getty Images)
Marine Le Pen speaks during an election night event after the first round of voting (Getty Images)
Supporters of third place finisher Jean-Luc Mélenchon, react following his loss, in Paris (Getty Images)
Supporters of third place finisher Jean-Luc Mélenchon, react following his loss, in Paris (Getty Images)

Macron ‘against forming coalition’ to secure power

10:32 , Tom Batchelor

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday that Emmanuel Macron was against forming a coalition government.

Asked about forming a pact between parties of different leanings to help Mr Macron stay in power, Mr Le Maire said: “I think we don’t have an interest to have a puzzle-style majority consisting of small pieces we have to permanently readjust.”

Mr Le Maire also said themes often associated with the political left, such as the fight against climate change and the strengthening of the European Union, would play a key role in the next two weeks of campaigning.

Momentum back with Macron, says analyst

10:15 , Tom Batchelor

Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, said Le Pen “slightly overperformed on her best polls last night but underperformed expectations”.

He said: “Some thought she would beat Macron to first place. So momentum should now swing back to the President.

“It will still be a horribly close race ... Macron’s major problem is many moderate centre-right & centre-left voters already swung to him last-minute to avoid a first round ‘victory’ for Le Pen last night.”

Mr Rahman added that Mr Macron “will now aim to fight a more active and energetic campaign”.

Here is the full analysis:

Vote shares in full

09:54 , Tom Batchelor

Vote shares with 97 per cent of ballots counted:

Emmanuel Macron - La République en marche 27.60%

Marine Le Pen - Rassemblement national 23.41%

Jean-Luc Mélenchon - La France insoumise 21.95%

Eric Zemmour - Reconquête 7.05%

Valérie Pécresse - Les Républicains 4.79%

Yannick Jadot - Europe-Ecologie-Les Verts 4.58%

Jean Lassalle - Résistons! 3.16%

Fabien Roussel - Parti communiste français 2.31%

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan - Debout La France 2.07%

Anne Hidalgo - Parti socialiste 1.74%

Philippe Poutou - Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste 0.77%

Nathalie Arthaud - Lutte ouvrière 0.57%

Neighbour Luxembourg ‘very worried’ at prospect of Le Pen victory

09:42 , Tom Batchelor

Victory for Marine Le Pen would be a worrying prospect for the European Union, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has said.

“I am very worried, I hope that we won’t get Le Pen as French president”, Mr Asselborn said before a meeting with fellow European ministers.

“It would not only be a break away from the core values of the EU, it would totally change its course. The French need to prevent this.”

What are the candidates policies?

09:31 , Tom Batchelor

Here is what the candidates are proposing:

Emmanuel Macron, La Republique En Marche

  • Progressively raise the retirement age from 62 to 65 and boost the minimum monthly pension

  • Six new-generation nuclear reactors, develop solar energy and wind farms at sea.

  • Strengthening external borders of the European passport-free area and creating a new force to better control national borders

  • Speed up processing of asylum and residence permit applications and to deport those who aren’t eligible

  • Make some welfare benefits conditional on 15-20 hours of training, similar to policies in countries such as the UK

  • Unemployment insurance, which currently guarantees workers up to two thirds of their salary for two years if they lose their job, would be linked to the strength of the economy

Marine Le Pen, National Rally

  • Ending family reunification policies, restrict social benefits to the French only and deport foreigners who stay unemployed for over a year

  • Implement a “Buy French” policy for public tenders

  • Cut the minimum retirement age to 60 for those who started work before 2

  • Scrap income tax for those aged under 30, and cut VAT on energy to 5.5 per cent from 20 per cent

  • Dismantle windfarms and invest in nuclear and hydro energy

  • A law banning Muslim headscarves in all public places, and outlawing events and financing considered to be spreading “Islamism”

Macron campaigns in northern France with warning ‘nothing decided yet'

09:13 , Tom Batchelor

Emmanuel Macron will take his campaign to win extra votes to the industrial heartlands of northern France on Monday.

The president will visit a blue-collar stronghold of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen who he will face in an April 24 presidential runoff vote.

“Let’s make no mistake, nothing has been decided yet,” he told his supporters after partial results showed him qualifying for the runoff.

He criticised his far-right rival over the financing of her populist economic agenda that would see the retirement age cut to 60 for those who start work before 20, income tax scrapped for the under-30s and VAT on energy reduced to 5.5% from 20%.

Mr Macron added: “Do you want a France that speaks of full employment and is serious about financing its welfare state, its pensioners, its schools, hospitals and public services?”

Macron on 27%, Le Pen on 23% after first round voting

09:07 , Tom Batchelor

With nearly all of the votes now counted, Emmanuel Macron has just over 27 per cent and Marine Le Pen has just under 24 per cent. Hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon was third, missing out on the two-candidate runoff, with close to 22 per cent.

The result for Ms Le Pen is the best result a presidential candidate for National Rally has ever received in the first round.

Mr Macron’s share is the best first-round-vote performance for an incumbent president since 1988.

08:55 , Tom Batchelor

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the French presidential election a day after the public cast their ballots in a first round vote that put Emmanuel Macron out in front, with Marine Le Pen following close behind.

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