French presidential favourite Emmanuel Macron's campaign was today given a boost when nine senators from the centre-right UDI-UC group pledged their support to him.
The senators cited the “moralisation of public life” as their primary concern in a joint opinion piece published in the French weekly ‘Le Journal du Dimanche’. They described the race, which has been tainted by corruption allegations against two of its leading candidates, as “the most calamitous our country has ever known.”
Emmanuel Macron leads the latest opinion poll, conducted by BVA, with 26 per cent of first-round voting intentions. Although this only places him one point above far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, further defections from supporters of disgraced right-wing candidate François Fillon are likely to add to to the momentum of his En Marche! (Onwards!) movement.
The official position of UDI-UC leadership is still to support François Fillon, the race’s former front-runner who has since dropped to third place in polls. After the latest in a string of corruption allegations against him emerged on Saturday, he was pelted by eggs at a rally in the South-West of France.
Only Macron can “give freedom back to our businesses, make them more competitive, open them up to the digital world ever more, giving them the possibility of being architects of a new world where each French citizen will be master of their destiny,” the senators wrote on Sunday. They also praised the former Socialist minister’s ‘method’ of “not dividing, not seeking to pit the French against each-other.”
“Our country is in need of a renewed majority and of a coming together rather than division.”
These defections from the centre-right may be evidence of Macron’s ability to build a winning electoral coalition against Marine Le Pen’s extremist proposals, just as Jacques Chirac did against her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002. At the moment, only 55 per cent of Macron’s potential electors say they are certain they will vote for him, compared to 82 per cent for Le Pen.