Macron ‘playing cat and mouse’ with voters – French leader’s glaring ‘weakness’ laid bare

Macron criticised for ‘snubbing’ France in favour of EU

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Mr Macron is yet to officially declare himself a candidate in the upcoming French elections. But political scientist Andrew Glencross told Express.co.uk that this is most likely a tactical move by the French president, as “he is trying to limit the way in which he can be constrained by using his office for campaign purposes.” He explained: “He’s playing cat and mouse because once he declares as an official candidate his time on TV gets counted as a potential campaign time.”

And while Mr Glencross believes that Mr Macron is generally “in a very strong position”, he noted a weakness in his campaign.

He said that rival Marine Le Pen’s “strong anti-Europe” stance has the potential to make Mr Macron look “soft”.

He said: “Last time, Marine Le Pen got unstuck when it came to ‘what do you do when you really leave the EU?’

“And she still hasn’t got the right answers so she’s trying to avoid that and she’s talking more her usual stuff about strong state, strong nation and the anti-Europe thing without necessarily saying ‘I’m going to do the whole hog and leave the Euro’.

“Macron is weak then, with opponents saying he is still seen as very pro-European.

“He’s still seen as being soft on things such as immigration – all of those things then they can still be used against him.”

Far-right candidate Ms Le Pen promised a ‘Frexit’ at the last French election but has softened her stance since the defeat.

During a press conference in Paris earlier this month, Ms Le Pen described Mr Macron stance on the EU as “unrealistic” and “dangerous”.

Hitting out at Mr Macron’s agenda while France holds the EU Presidency, Ms Le Pen also attacked him for being the only leader in the bloc who has not used the position to push “his country’s interests” and accused him of being “Mrs Merkel’s flunky”.

But despite this line of attack, Mr Glencross said that the “helplessly disorganised” nature of Mr Macron’s challengers has left him in a strong position to win the election.

He said: “He’s in a very strong position.

“He’s feeling pretty confident with the election because there is such a disparate opposition right now – in terms of two far-right candidates and such a helplessly disorganised socialist party still – that he is the one who can end up surfing all of that once again like 2017.

“He wants things to be as similar to 2017 as possible, with extremists either side who look like the wrong choice and therefore he holds the middle ground.”

While Ms Le Pen appears to be Mr Macron’s main challenger, she is also rivalled by fellow far-right candidate Éric Zemmour and conservative Valérie Pécresse.

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A poll by Harris Interactive for the magazine Challenges showed Mr Macron taking 24 percent of votes in the first round of the election.

Meanwhile, Ms Le Pen, Mr Zemmour and Ms Pécresse were all tied on 16 percent.

The poll said Mr Macron would win in April’s run-off vote, estimating a margin of 51-49 percent against Ms Pécresse, 55-45 percent against Ms Le Pen, and 61-39 percent against Mr Zemmour.

The first round of the French election will be held on 10 April 2022.

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