Le Pen 'unlikely' to beat Macron in French election says expert
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Dr Louis Perron, a Switzerland-based political scientist and consultant, was speaking in the last days of a turbulent year for the 44-year-old former merchant banker which has seen him face sharp criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The confirmation of Ms Pecresse, 54, the President of the Regional Council of Île-de-France , as the candidate for the Republican Party has not made his life any easier, stressed Dr Perron, with Marine Le Pen, 53, of National Rally and controversial right-wing Eric Zemmour, 63, also likely to be involved.
Dr Perron told Express.co.uk: “I think that Valérie Pécresse is a formidable candidate.
“She runs the capital region and just won reelection there running a great campaign.
“She is someone who can integrate different sectors and therefore can reach many voters.
“And she is a woman, which could appeal to women on the left. I think she could pose a threat to Macron in the run off.”
He added: “Zemmour has been creating quite some waves entering politics.
“The problem is that he is going after the same votes as Marine LePen.
“It could actually divide the nationalist vote and prevent Le Pen from entering the second round of voting.”
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Turning his attention to what Mr Macron needed to do to convince French voters, Dr Perron said: “In my experience, elections with an incumbent are foremost a referendum on the incumbent.
“Do you play or trade? That’s the choice for voters and it is a consequential one.”
Whereas voting for a challenger was “merely expressing a wish”, voting for an incumbent was a “verdict”, he stressed.
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Dr Perron added: “In that sense, what matters most for Macron is how average French voters next spring will feel about the state of the country, the pandemic and their own personal situation and livelihood.
“Macron should polish and tout his record, and do anything he can to prevent the elections from taking place under a new wave of the pandemic.”
Mr Macron has faced fierce criticism over his attempts to reform France’s pension laws, which triggered waves of protests across the country.
Dr Perron said: “If I were to advise him, I would probably worry about not completely abandoning the left.
“If there is anything he can do that pleases them without antagonising the right, I would do it (some appointment, signature speech).
“He might need some left votes in the second round.”
There have also been suggestions that Mr Macron’s strident remarks about post-Brexit fishing access for French boats represent a calculated attempt to score points with the electorate.
Dr Perron said: “Macron is clearly pro EU. In that sense, it is easy for him to offer a clear opinion and contrast on those issues.
“It may win him a day of positive news coverage, but at the end of the day, the election will be won on other issues.”
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