President Macron seeks second term in French election next month

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French President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday that he will seek a second term in office at elections next month, with Russia’s war in Ukraine likely to eclipse the campaign but boost his chances.

Macron formally announced his attempt to become the first French president to be re-elected in 20 years in a letter to the French people published online by numerous news sites.

There was little suspense about the 44-year-old’s intentions, but the announcement has been repeatedly delayed because of the crisis in eastern Europe that has seen Macron take a prominent role in diplomatic talks.

“I’m a candidate to invent, with you, and faced with the challenges of this century, a singular French and European response,” he said.

“I am a candidate to defend our values that are threatened by the disruptions of the world,” he added.

Macron acknowledged that the election would not be a normal one due to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“Of course, I will not be able to campaign as I would have liked because of the context,” he said, while vowing to “explain our project with clarity and commitment”.

Ahead of Friday’s deadline for candidates to stand, polls widely show him as the frontrunner in the two-round election on April 10 and 24, with the war focusing attention on 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-Jaures Foundation, a Paris think-tank.

“The other candidates are inaudible. In every media, all anyone is talking about is the invasion”.

One ruling party MP said the Ukraine crisis meant that Macron’s rivals were “boxing on their own”, while several polls have shown his personal 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.

Voter surveys currently tip the centrist to win the first round of the election with 26 percent and then triumph in the April 24 run-off irrespective of his opponent.

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