French President Emmanuel Macron, whose reelection bid seemed to be a lock just several weeks ago, is suddenly facing a tightened race ahead of tomorrow’s first-round voting. Macron is almost certain to make it through to the second round on April 24, where he will in all likelihood face far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in a rematch of their 2017 face-off.
Five years ago, Macron defeated Le Pen in a landslide, with two-thirds of the vote. This year, however, the latest polls show a much closer head-to-head contest, with Macron ahead by just several percentage points—within the margin of error—in several of them.
In many ways, if Macron snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, he will have only himself to blame. He put off declaring his candidacy until March 3, the day before the legal deadline, and used an open letter, rather than a speech or rally, to do so. Since then, he has largely remained above the fray, refusing to participate in a debate with the other candidates and only holding his first campaign rally last weekend.