PARIS

- A month away from the first round of the French presidential elections scheduled for next April 11, Russia's war on Ukraine and the rapid geopolitical changes of this crisis caused a great shock to the French political elite, which was reflected in the electoral campaigns of the candidates.

This war put the presidential election candidates to a difficult test, considering that the positions they will adopt may affect their image, their political future, and their position in the opinion polls among voters.


Non-classical campaign

In a media statement last Sunday, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told TFN that "this crisis does not benefit anyone."

He wondered: Will this election campaign be a classic for the president?

Before answering, "Of course not, it's never a classic campaign."

Atal pointed out that Emmanuel Macron will have to continue to protect the French and Europeans in the face of this crisis, and said, "Macron will be a president as he should be, and a candidate as much as he can be."

Posters of candidates for the previous French presidential elections in 2017 (Reuters)

Election campaign paralysis

For his part, Ibrahim Mansour, an expert at the Institute of Strategic Studies and International Relations in Paris, pointed out that Russia's war on Ukraine caused great confusion in the French election campaigns.

In his opinion, "if this crisis lasts longer, it will increase its imposition in the public sphere and in the local French media."

Mansour added to Al-Jazeera Net that "this crisis has marginalized electoral campaigns and topics that are usually raised in such political occasions, especially the preferences of some right-wing candidates, such as immigration, Islam, the veil and the position of Muslims in France and the West."

He pointed out that foreign policy and Russia's war on Ukraine became the main topic in the elections, and this is a severe blow to many candidates, especially the far-right.

The meeting of the French Defense Council on Russia's war on Ukraine chaired by Emmanuel Macron in Paris (Reuters)

oscillating positions

In light of this war, the positions of the presidential candidates differed, and in a position that tends to maneuver between condemnation, tightening sanctions and dialogue, outgoing President Emmanuel Macron is trying to hold the stick from the middle in Russia’s war on Ukraine. He called for "targeted European sanctions" against Moscow.

After the Russian war on Ukraine, Macron put on the hat of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the leader whose country presides over the European Union, and stressed that "in the face of this war act, we will respond without weakness."

But while France continues with its European allies to impose economic, diplomatic, sports and even cultural sanctions on Russia, Macron continues his repeated attempts to find a peaceful solution to this war through his dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his endless phone calls with him.

Candidate Marine Le Pen appeared less hawkish against Russia in her election speeches (Reuters)

Le Pen dribbling

As for the candidate of the National Rally (extreme right) party, Marine Le Pen - who was received by Vladimir Putin in 2017, and continues to repay a 9-million-euro loan she obtained in 2014 from a Russian bank - announced at the beginning of the war that she "regretted Putin's decision", calling for "Doing everything to return to dialogue with the aim of ensuring security in Europe."

After the start of the war, Le Pen called for an "immediate cessation of Russian military operations in Ukraine," and today confirms that the "red line" crossed by the Russian president in Ukraine "partly changes her view of him."

But Le Pen, on the other hand, continues to fluctuate in her position. Last January, during a rally in Madrid with a group of European right-wing parties, she refused to ratify a paragraph of a joint declaration on Ukraine condemning "Russian military operations on the eastern borders of Europe," according to the press agency. French.

It also tries to recall, in all its gatherings and speeches, the commitment made by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to Moscow in the early 1990s so that “the alliance cannot have forces on the Russian borders,” as it puts it, and also wants France to withdraw from the alliance and sign agreement with Russia.

Candidate Eric Zemmour was an admirer of Putin (Reuters)

French Putin

Following in the footsteps of Le Pen, the far-right candidate Eric Zemmour expressed his admiration for the Russian president on many occasions, describing him as a "patriot", and said in a media statement in 2018, "I was dreaming of a French Putin."

But in recent days, he changed his previous positions, describing President Putin in a press interview today, Thursday, as a "authoritarian democrat", and the far-right candidate condemned "this unreserved use of force" by Russia, and at the same time called for a "treat that enshrines the end of NATO expansion" to respond. On the "Russian demands".

Zemmour was skeptical about the sanctions, describing them as "useless", which is likely to affect the purchasing power of the French.

As a result of this fluctuation in attitudes from Zemmour - who in December bet in an interview with France 2 that "Russia will not invade Ukraine", mocking campaigns against him on Twitter multiplied until he was branded "Vladimir Zemmour".


Mutant Melunchun

In turn, when the "France Proud" candidate Jean-Luc was asked in an interview with France 2 before the war about the aggressor, Russia or NATO?

"NATO, without a doubt," replied Jean-Luc Melenchon.

However, he modified his position after that, and denounced the Russian war on Ukraine, describing it as "a show of force without limits," stressing that "Russia has created an imminent danger of the outbreak of a comprehensive conflict that threatens all of humanity."

But Melenchon - who supported the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015 - today calls for a ceasefire and negotiations within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and refuses to send weapons to the Ukrainians, as he defends a "non-aligned position" towards Russia or the United States.

At the same time, the leftist leader - who has not yet called for the imposition of sanctions on Russia - refuses to describe the Russian president as a dictator, preferring to use the phrase "authoritarian ruler".

However, Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo tried to "bait" her position, stressing the need for a "more solid European security and defense policy", and called for a "freezing of energy prices" in France to avoid potential shortages.

Hidalgo also encouraged "quick action for Ukraine's accession to the European Union" and expressed a desire to impose severe sanctions on Putin "far beyond those of the Union".

Observers believe that Russia's war on Ukraine has shocked French political elites (Reuters)

Shock of the political elites

Ibrahim Mansour, an expert at the Institute of Strategic Studies and International Relations in Paris, explains the fluctuation in the positions of the candidates in a state of shock, surprise, frustration and embarrassment, because they did not expect this war in the worst case, and they felt that they got into trouble because they were supporting Putin and considered him an example.

He added, "Most of the candidates cannot change their previous positions overnight, and therefore they seek to soften and review them so as not to lose their voters' votes and not to be described as opportunists."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) and French Emmanuel Macron in a meeting before the outbreak of the Russian war on Ukraine (European)

Macron the winner

But it seems that Russia’s war on Ukraine served President Macron, as the results of the latest Ifop opinion poll, published last Monday, showed him advancing by two points in one week, reaching 30% of the expected vote in the first round of the presidential elections, ahead of Marine Le Pen and Valéry. Beckers and Eric Zemmour.

Macron submitted his candidacy for the elections officially through a letter to the French that was published Thursday on the Internet.

While Le Pen also advanced by two points and received 18% of the vote in the poll, Zemmour lost 1.5 points and rolled to 12.5%, allowing Valerie Pecres - who stayed at 13% - to take third place.

On the left, the Proud France candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon advanced by a point to 11.5%, well ahead of the Greens candidate Yannick Gadeau, who remained at 5%, and the communist Fabien Roussel with 4%, while the socialist Anne Hidalgo stood at 2.5% of voting intentions in last ranking.

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