French voters will go to the polls for the first round of a presidential election on Sunday. If no candidate receives a majority — and none is likely to — a two-person runoff will take place two weeks later on April 24.
The favorite is the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron. But his lead in the polls is not huge, and the war in Ukraine seems to be hurting him. Inflation was already fairly high in Europe, as it is in much of the world, because of the pandemic. The war has caused prices to rise even further, mostly because of sanctions on Russian oil.
While Macron has focused on trying to find a diplomatic solution in Ukraine — and is failing, so far — his leading opponent has instead focused on the French economy, my colleague Roger Cohen explains in a preview of the election. That opponent is Marine Le Pen, a hard-right candidate.
As Roger writes, “Her patient focus on cost-of-living issues has resonated with the millions of French people struggling to make ends meet after an increase of more than 53 percent in gas prices over the past year.”
Le Pen has a long history of friendliness to Putin. Her party has taken loans from a Russian bank, and she met with him in 2017 in an attempt to strengthen her political image, Elisabeth Zerofsky writes in a Times Magazine story about the French far right. Until the invasion, Le Pen largely supported Putin’s policies. Even now, she largely opposes hard-line policies toward Putin.