French leader Emmanuel Macron faced warnings against complacency on Tuesday despite polls showing a solid lead over far-right leader Marine Le Pen, one day ahead of a debate crucial to the outcome of the presidential election.
Macron will go head-to-head with Le Pen late on Wednesday in their only direct clash ahead of Sunday’s second-round vote, an encounter set to be watched by millions of French.
Some polls are predicting a lead of around 10 points for Macron over Le Pen in the run-off but undecided voters and abstentions could yet swing the figures.
Both candidates are particularly keen to woo the electorate of hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who finished a strong third in the first round.
The vote will mark the closest the far right has been to seizing the Elysee presidential palace. Marine Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie was crushed by Jacques Chirac in the 2002 run-off election and she was easily beaten by Macron in 2017. Opinion polls currently put the centrist Macron at 53 to 56 percent in the run-off against 44 to 47 percent for Le Pen — a much tighter finish than five years ago, when Macron carried the vote with 66 percent. “The game isn’t over yet and we certainly can’t draw conclusions … that this election, this match, is already decided,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told France Inter radio. —AFP