French President Emmanuel Macron has announced he would run for a second term in the April French presidential election, seeking a mandate to steer the euro zone’s second-largest economy through the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Macron announced his bid for the 2022 presidential election with a “letter to the French” which began with the recent challenges the country has faced during his first five-year term.
“Over the past five years, we have faced many trials together. Terrorism, the pandemic, war in Europe: rarely has France been faced with such an accumulation of crises,” the letter, which was published in several newspapers, began.
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“We have not succeeded in everything,” Macron continued. “There are choices that, with the experience I have acquired, I would no doubt make differently. But the transformations undertaken during this mandate have enabled many of us to live better, and France to gain independence. And the crises we have been experiencing for the past two years show that this is the path that must be followed.”
The letter then stated his intent to run for a second term. “I am asking for your confidence for a new mandate as president of the Republic. I am a candidate to…respond to the challenges of the century. I am a candidate to defend our values…I am a candidate to continue to prepare the future of our children and our grandchildren.”
The French president, who has been at the centre of diplomacy over Ukraine, left his official declaration to the last minute with the deadline set by the authorities at 6 pm (1700 GMT) on Friday.
While there was always little suspense about the 44-year-old’s intentions, his candidacy announcement was repeatedly delayed because of the crisis in eastern Europe that has seen Macron take a prominent role in diplomatic talks.
Nearly a month before the April 10 first round of the presidential election Macron has yet to engage in any official campaigning and scrapped a rally planned in Marseille this weekend due to the Ukraine crisis.
Ahead of Friday’s deadline for candidates to stand, polls widely show him as the front runner, with the war turning the attention to foreign policy rather than the domestic issues favoured by his opponents.
“In a crisis, citizens always get behind the flag and line up behind the head of state,” said Antoine Bristielle, a public opinion expert at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, a Paris think tank.
“The other candidates are inaudible. In every media, all anyone is talking about is the invasion,” he told AFP.
One ruling party MP told AFP this week the Ukraine crisis meant that Macron’s rivals were “boxing on their own”, while several polls have shown his ratings rising.
The former investment banker admitted in a national address on Wednesday night that the crisis had “hit our democratic life and the election campaign” but promised “an important democratic debate for the country” would take place.
The latest IFOP poll for Paris Match, LCI and Sud Radio on Thursday showed Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen leading in the first round and qualifying for the run-off with Macron getting 28 per cent and Le Pen securing 17 per cent.
The figures for the April 24 runoff showed Macron securing 56.7 per cent of the vote against Le Pen.