Macron agrees with Le Pen on presidential term

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Incumbent French president supports rival’s proposal to reinstate seven-year term, but favors option of having more than one

French President Emmanuel Macron has quickly agreed with his chief rival Marine Le Pen about restoring the seven-year presidential term, but said he’d prefer the French people decide whether to allow re-election. Le Pen said Tuesday that she favored a single seven-year term and joked Macron would end up voting for her perforce.

Having a single, seven-year term would restore “prestige” to the presidency and enable the officeholder to plan for a longer term without being in a permanent campaign, Le Pen said on Tuesday. Her remarks were part of a campaign press conference, after advancing to the run-off against Macron in Sunday’s first round of voting.

During his own campaign stop in Grand Est – a region formerly known as Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne and Ardenne – Macron said he was “rather in favor” of restoring the seven-year term. That would be a good pace for presidential elections and provide a “breather” compared to the legislative elections, the incumbent president said. 

While Le Pen favored a non-renewable mandate, however, Macron said the decision to allow presidents to run for a second term should be left to the people of France.

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France's far-right party Rassemblement National candidate for the 2022 French presidential election Marine Le Pen. © Getty Images / Chesnot
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Asked about Macron apparently agreeing with her, Le Pen said the incumbent president would end up voting for her perforce.

“There are ten days left, you never know!” she added.

Sunday’s vote set up a runoff between Macron and Le Pen, with the incumbent finishing three percentage points ahead of his nationalist rival – 27.6% to 23.41%, respectively. Pollsters are already considering Macron to win – especially after the Socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who won just under 22% of the electorate, called for his followers to “never” vote for Le Pen. 

In 2017, Macron emerged as the compromise candidate the French establishment united behind in order to defeat Le Pen, whom they denounced as a bigot. The former Rothschild & Co. investment banker and economy minister in Francois Hollande’s government ended up winning 66.1% of the vote in the runoff, to Le Pen’s 33.9%.

France reduced the presidential term from seven to five years in a 2000 referendum, and adopted a constitutional amendment prohibiting more than two consecutive terms in 2008, after Jacques Chirac declined to run for a third.

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