Emmanuel Macron could see his chances for re-election dwindle dramatically if Marine Le Pen were to fail to secure a spot on the second round of votes in the election, political commentator Patrick Smith claimed. Mr Macron is expected to run for a second term in the Elysée in April and is set to face steep competition from far-right candidates Le Pen and Eric Zemmour. However, Mr Smith suggested the candidate for the centre-right Les Republicains party, Valérie Pecrésse, could prove to be a “quite dangerous” challenger for Mr Macron in France’s upcoming presidential election.
Speaking to France 24, Mr Smith said: “I do think that, assuming that Emmanuel Macron is going to stand, and I think that’s a fairly safe bet, I think his most serious opponent is going to be Valérie Pécresse.
“And I think both of them are going to be competing for the centre-right ground.
“That could be quite dangerous for Emmanuel Macron simply because, going back to the elections in 2000 when you had Marine Le Pen’s father competing against Jacques Chirac, there was what they called the ‘hold your nose’ factor.
“The left and the centre-left voters moved to vote for Chirac just to keep the extreme right out. I think if it comes down to a second-round between Macron and Pecresse, you won’t get that factor.”
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The Africa Report editor-in-chief added: “A lot of left voters having not been able to put together a really powerful challenge to Macron from the left, they would just abstain.
“That could be quite dangerous for Emmanuel Macron.”
Ms Pécresse, who was picked as Les Republicains candidate earlier in December, has benefited from an early boost in the polls after her selection.
France 24’s political editor Marc Perelman said: “His [Macron’s] figures are not huge in terms of percentage. He has around 25 percent.
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“But the polls show that if Valérie Pécresse makes it to the second round, she is a clear danger to him and this is why he is going to focus his attention on her.”
President Macron has yet to officially declare his candidacy.
A BFM TV television and L’Express magazine poll released on December 10 projected Ms Pécresse winning 20 percent of expressed votes, behind Macron with 23 percent.
In the second round, Ms Pecresse would beat President Macron by a 52-48 percent margin, the survey forecast.
According to Politico, the poll has sparked panic in Macron’s circles.