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Macron campaigning in rural areas ahead of 2022 re-election bid

By
Kyle Barnett
French President Emmanuel Macron is campaigning for re-election. File Photo by Abir Sultan/UPI
French President Emmanuel Macron is campaigning for re-election. File Photo by Abir Sultan/UPI | License Photo

July 19 (UPI) -- French President Emmanuel Macron is campaigning in the Pyrenees as he prepares for a what could be a tough election.

In the wake of regional elections, Macron visited Bagnères-de-Bigorre as part of a tour of France that began in June.

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"The Pyrenees are lands I am very attached to. I have memories here and family still around here, as well as friends," Macron said, according to Politico. "I know these landscapes very well."

Macron is expected again to face right-wing challenger Marine Le Pen, who has support in rural France. Macron, now 43, bested Le Pen in 2017 to become the youngest president in the country.

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Le Pen is a nationalist who focuses on immigration issues. Her party had a poor showing in recent regional elections.

Turnout for the election was remarkably low. The center right Les Republicains party won the elections. Its leader, Xavier Bertrand, also is seeking the presidency.

Many are expecting low turnout for the presidential election, leading some to believe another besides Macron, such as Bertrand or Le Pen, may have a shot.

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For the first time, voters could really abstain, because Macron's presidential term was extremely divisive on socioeconomic issues, Mathieu Gallard, research director at the Ipsos polling institute, said according to Politco.

"If he becomes divisive on identity and immigration, left-wing voters won't have many good reasons to support him in the runoff like they did in 2017."

Macron's popularity has been waning since he took over the presidency. On the campaign trail last month, he was slapped by a man, who later received four months in jail in the incident.

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Beginning in November 2018 the "yellow vest" movement wracked the country in the wake of fuel taxes. At its height the vest-clad protests -- who came out to protest economic problems and policies -- turned into riots that damaged and vandalized shops in Paris due to economic upset in the country.

Protesters also have complained about the country's standard of living, decreases in social welfare benefits. Economic problems have continued in the country since the pandemic and welfare benefits may be on the chopping block.

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