If Emmanuel Macron is to secure another term in the Élysée Palace, he’ll need to charm left-wing voters in particular by Sunday’s run-off ballot for the French presidency. These are the voters who brought hard-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon close to knocking out Macron’s far-right challenger Marine Le Pen in the first round on 10 April. Macron remains the favourite but by a narrow margin, which means that Le Pen could prevail if enough of Mélenchon’s supporters abstain or vote blanc (spoil their ballot). And so Macron chose Marseille, the southern port city where Mélenchon topped the first round, for a weekend speech (pictured) that the former investment banker hopes will ease their concerns.
Macron’s relationship with France’s second city is one of unrequited love. Last year he pledged billions of euros in investment for what he has dubbed his “city of the heart” and on Saturday he compared Marseille to a “laboratory for the republic”. But such charm offensives have not translated into votes. Left-wingers here, as elsewhere in France, accuse Macron of pursuing economic liberalism at the expense of social benefits. Others bristle over his rightward tilt on immigration and security.
Speaking with the port of Marseille as a backdrop, Macron accused Le Pen of being a climate sceptic – a key concern for left-wing voters – while promising that he would prioritise decarbonisation. He also walked back a controversial proposal (in France, at least) to raise the retirement age to 65. Macron warned of an extreme-right that would widen inequalities and endanger cherished freedoms. “Don’t believe that the candidate you don’t like is the same as the far-right,” he said, later adding, “Choose your enemies.” Going for the “lesser of two evils” line is arguably a sign of desperation but it just might pull him over the line.