French elections: Pécresse launches emergency appeal over €5M campaign debt

France: Valérie Pécresse launches emergency appeal for donations

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Most French presidential candidates have failed to reach the crucial five-percent threshold required to have campaign fees reimbursed by the state in the first round. With only 4.8 percent of the votes, Republican candidate Valérie Pécresse won’t get her campaign fees reimbursed, prompting her to launch emergency appeal. Ms Pécresse told French media: “The Republicans can’t meet these expenses. I am personally in debt to the tune of 5 million euros.”

“That is why this morning I am launching a national appeal for donations to all those who gave me their vote, but also to all those who preferred the useful vote yesterday, and finally to all French people who are attached to political pluralism and freedom of expression.” 

“I need your urgent help between now and May 15 to complete the financing of this presidential campaign.”

According to French electoral law, candidates must at least get five percent of the votes to get their money back. Under five percent, candidates are entitled to about 800,000 euros from the state.

Ms Pécresse’s defeat represents a hard blow, as the December’s polls said she’d win against Macron in the second round. But her campaign has failed to gain traction over the last few months.

Only four candidates got more than five percent of votes, meaning all the other candidates must pay back their campaign fees in full.

The first round was marked by one of the lowest turnouts in recent elections, with abstention rate estimated at around 26 percent – that is more than the 30 percent abstention rate some polls expected. In 2017, 23 percent of voters abstained from voting.

The early results deal a hard blow to French traditional parties that have seen their numbers plummet since Emmanuel Macron became president in 2017.

Most previous French presidential elections usually opposed the left and the right, with the Republican and the Socialist parties qualifying for the second round.

The right-left divide has disappeared and left room to the pro-EU, mainstream bloc versus the nationalist one.

In 2017, President Macron shook up the French political landscape with a centrist campaign and pushed France’s traditional parties to the bottom.

Despite five years of soul-searching, both the right-centrist Republican party and the left-centrist Socialist party have failed to energise their base and are now out of the race.

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While The Republican, the Socialist and the Greens candidates asked their supporters to vote for President Macron in the second round of the election, The Reconquest’s Zemmour called on his base to elect Le Pen.

For his part, far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon repeated three times to his supporters “you should not give any vote to Marine Le Pen.”

In a repeat of the 2017 presidential election, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will face off on April 24’s runoff.

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