In a plea to youthful and green voters who he fears could abstain in next week’s election runoff, President Emmanuel Macron promised on Saturday to make France the ‘first major nation’ to stop using oil, coal, and gas as energy sources.
Macron aimed to increase what opinion polls suggest as a modest lead over his far-right competitor Marine Le Pen in a rally in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, which voted strongly for left-wing firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round of voting.
The presidential contest is being waged on the left ahead of the April 24 runoff, with both candidates hoping to recruit people who voted for Melenchon in the first round last Sunday.
Macron announced that his future prime minister would be in charge of ‘green planning,’ appealing to left-wing voters’ nostalgia for postwar Communist-inspired central planning while also addressing climate change concerns.
‘I’ve heard the worry among our young people,’ Macron told a crowd of flag-waving supporters in a park overlooking Marseille’s Old Port.
‘The objective of this prime minister will be to make France the first great country to abandon gas, oil, and coal. It is doable, and we will achieve it,’ Macron stated his position. ‘I pick nuclear above coal and gas on the one hand, and coal and gas on the other.’
By mid-century, the president plans to build six new nuclear reactors and begin studies for another eight, tenfold solar energy capacity, and develop 50 offshore wind farms. In order to save energy, he also plans to insulate 700,000 homes per year.
Macron, a centrist, also stated that he wants to establish an annual national day of nature in May. He referred to Le Pen as a ‘climate sceptic.’
Melenchon finished third on April 10 with more than 21 percent of the vote, and as both runoff contenders try to woo his voters, Le Pen is concentrating on the expense of living, rising food prices, and high gasoline prices as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Macron is courting Melenchon voters who are more educated, centre-left, and urban.
According to an Ipsos poll released on Saturday, 33 percent of Melenchon’s supporters expected to vote for Macron, 16 percent for Le Pen, and 51 percent were unsure.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of anti-fascist demonstrators marched across the country in an attempt to unite Le Pen’s opponents in order to prevent her from winning the runoff.
Mehdi Sam, a 25-year-old IT engineer and left-wing voter in Marseille, said he liked Macron’s environmental policy, but that his father, who voted for Melenchon in the first round, planned to abstain in the runoff.
‘That, I believe, is a mistake. I understand that not everything in Macron suits him… but let us not forget what’s on the other side: an extreme camp with very negative values, and that’s not the France I want for tomorrow,’ he stated
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