‘I really don’t like him’ Macron snubbed in his own hometown ahead of tough vote

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The French leader will face Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election on Sunday, April 25. Mr Macron, a pro-European centrist, became president in 2017 after easily beating Ms Le Pen when voters rallied behind him to keep the far-right out of power. This time, he faces a tougher challenge.

Slightly behind in opinion polls, Ms Le Pen has successfully softened her image and tapped into anger over the cost of living and a perception Mr Macron is disconnected from everyday hardships.

A perception felt even in his own hometown of Amiens, in northern France.

Speaking to Politico, residents in Longueau, near Amiens, said the French leader fails to understand “little people”.

Retired accountant Didier Balesdens said: “I really don’t like Macron.

“He’s a rich man’s president.”

Mr Balesdens added Macron’s “inability to understand little people” may push him to vote for Marine Le Pen, despite being a supporter of left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round.

“He hasn’t left good memories here,” said Longueau mayor and left-wing independent Pascal Ourdouillé.

The French mayor said people still remember Mr Macron’s failed attempt to keep a local Whirlpool factory open.

“He came here, put on a show, made promises and didn’t keep them,” said Mr Ourdouillé, who recalls that, in 2018, the factory closed despite several attempts to save it.

Some polls show Ms Le Pen victory in the April 24 runoff is within the margin of error.

Ahead of the second round, both candidates are seeking to win over left-wing voters, especially from hard-left third-place candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

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Mr Melenchon’s party launched a consultation on Wednesday to ask his supporters if they planned to vote for President Macron, put in a blank ballot or not vote.

“Neither Emmanuel Macron nor Marine Le Pen are up to the task,” Mr Melenchon wrote.

Even after the consultation closes on Saturday, Mr Melenchon signalled he would give voters no instruction on what they should do on the 24th – whereas other parties have urged voters to back Macron in order to block the far-right.

Mr Macron, who already had said he would increase pensions this summer if re-elected, told TF1 television that it would be a four percent increase.

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On Monday, he opened the door to potentially pushing the retirement age from 62 at the moment to 64, rather than to 65, his initial proposal.

Mr Macron’s efforts to woo leftwing voters could be hurt after former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, a reviled figure on the left, endorsed him and forced Mr Macron to deny there was any wider political agreement.

Mr Macron will need a new majority after legislative elections in June and political sources have said Mr Sarkozy’s endorsement could pave the way for an alliance between the centre-right Les Republicains party and Mr Macron’s LaRem.

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