Macron Faces Tough Challenge From Le Pen in French Election – The Wall Street Journal.

Macron Faces Tough Challenge From Le Pen in French Election

By Stacy Meichtry + and Noemie Bisserbe 
PARIS—Millions of French voters were heading to the polls Sunday to kick off a presidential election in which far-right leader Marine Le Pen has suddenly closed in on President Emmanuel Macron, imperiling an incumbent who has cast himself as the leader of Europe in a time of war.
Mr. Macron is facing 11 challengers in the first round of voting, ranging from Ms. Le Pen to far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Opinion polls project Mr. Macron and Ms. Le Pen will garner enough votes to qualify for the April 24 runoff, setting the stage for a rematch of the 2017 presidential contest in a political landscape that has since undergone radical change.
The center of France’s political gravity has shifted far to the right, making it hard for Mr. Macron to rekindle the coalition of disaffected socialists and conservatives that fueled his landslide victory five years ago. Widespread anxiety over the decline of middle- and working-class France—coupled with deep anti-immigrant sentiment in many parts of the country—has brought Ms. Le Pen from the political fringe to the center of national discourse.

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