Among regulars at Le Carillon, inquiries as to the whereabouts of nuclear bomb shelters are on the rise. Emmanuel Bichot, a center-right city councilor, does not like the country’s mood. “There’s a lot of frustration, of aggression, of tension,” he said. “People get angry very quickly. This has not been an election about programs. I don’t hear anyone debating them.”
Learn More About France’s Presidential Election
The run-up to the first round of the election has been dominated by issues such as security, immigration and national identity.
He paused to contemplate this puzzle. “It’s come down to Macron’s Machiavellian manipulations against Le Pen’s resilience.” This is the third time that Ms. Le Pen, the leader of the National Rally, formerly the National Front, has run for president. The two leaders in the first round of voting go through to a runoff on April 24.
One fundamental development contributed to the fractured, incoherent nature of the election. Mr. Macron’s agile occupation of the political center, destroying first the center-left Socialist Party and then the center-right Republicans, effectively wiped out two pillars of postwar French democracy.
What was left was the president against the extremes, whether to the right in the form of Ms. Le Pen or to the left in the form of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Between them, Ms. Le Pen, the far-right upstart Éric Zemmour and Mr. Mélenchon are set to garner some 50 percent of the vote, the latest poll from the Ifop-Fiducial group showed.