PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron formally announced early yesterday that he will run for a second term in April’s presidential election, ahead of which he is already leading in the polls.
In a “letter to the French” published on domestic media websites, Macron said: “I am seeking your trust again. I am a candidate to invent with you, faced with the century’s challenges, a French and European singular response.”
Macron, 44, had long indicated that he wanted to run in the election, scheduled to be held in two rounds on April 10 and April 24, without formally announcing it until now. But his initial campaign plans have changed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the past weeks, the centrist president has dedicated most of his time to diplomatic talks with world leaders and coordination with European and other Western allies.
Polls suggest Macron is the front-runner in the race. Conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse and two far-right figures, Marine le Pen and Eric Zemmour, are expected to be his main challengers.
Chairman of the IPSOS in France polling firm Henri Wallard said that Macron’s candidacy is boosted by his being in office.
Wallard noted the 21 million viewers who watched Macron’s address to the nation this week centred on the war in Ukraine and its consequences.
“That’s after he spoke nine times to the French during the COVID crisis. So he doesn’t play on the same team as the other candidates, because he is already in charge and dealing with a crisis,” Wallard told the AP.
Macron’s popularity in recent months has remained relatively stable, with an approval rating hovering around 40 per cent depending on poll institutes – higher than his predecessors after nearly five years in office.
Even without a formal candidacy announcement, Macron was the first candidate to receive the legally required 500 endorsements from elected officials. Macron said in his letter that the war in Ukraine would prevent him from campaigning “as I would have liked”.
Campaign events will be limited to the minimum for now, several French presidency officials said. Macron wants his duties as president at a key time for the European continent not to be disrupted by his candidacy, they stressed.
France currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union Council, giving Macron a key role in organizing the 27-nation bloc’s response to Russia’s actions.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led Macron to declare the country “at war” against the virus. After a lockdown-fuelled historic recession, his government focussed on supporting the economy with a EUR100 billion recovery plan.
The pandemic forced Macron to delay some economic reforms. “We did not succeed in everything,” Macron acknowledged in his letter.
“Thanks to reforms, our industry created jobs again for the first time and unemployment has reached its lowest level in fifteen years,” he said. The unemployment rate recently reached 7.4 per cent, down from over 10 per cent when he came into power.
“I’m a candidate to continue preparing the future of our children and our grand-children,” he said.