Emmanuel Macron has taken French voters for granted. Now he risks defeat. Por Olivier Tonneau.
In theory Macron should beat Marine Le Pen hands down. But he has little commitment from the electorate
Of the four frontrunners in the first round, Macron had the fewest “conviction” voters. According to a poll, fewer than half of those who voted for him did so because they believed his programme would change life for the better. Thus he needs to get his validation in the second-round count, and hence cannot do what Jacques Chirac did when facing Jean-Marie Le Pen in the 2002 run-off: Chirac immediately made clear that he would not interpret votes in his name as expressions of support.
Macron has done the opposite: he boldly stated that he only wanted votes based on genuine commitment. In so doing, he has run a major risk: he has dared people who oppose him (and there are many) to abstain. An astonishing proportion of voters seem ready to call his bluff. The situation has become so alarming that a Le Pen victory is becoming less implausible every day.
Journalists are now rushing to the rescue, desperately admonishing the French: they must stop Le Pen from coming to power. But the calls may be falling on deaf ears. It is not difficult to understand why. A few weeks before the election, something important happened that was largely unnoticed: an opinion poll showed that the main concern of the people was neither unemployment nor immigration, but the reform of state institutions (institutional issues are rarely brought up in polls). There is a deep resentment towards a state they perceive as oppressive, corrupt and violent.