Love your enemy: Macron's victory in France's election is a key win for critics

Paris-based artist Vincent Aitzegagh will flee to a rural village to avoid what, for him and millions of French left-wing voters, is a difficult, even impossible electoral choice.

Love your enemy: Macron's victory in France's election is a key win for critics

The 65-year old has decided not to vote in the decisive ballot this Sunday for the first time in his adult life.

He says, "I am fleeing." It stinks.

Aitzegagh, a disgruntled voter whose preferred candidates were eliminated in the election's first round of voting on April 10, is the wild card in the winner-takes all runoff. The outcome of Sunday's vote will determine whether incumbent Emmanuel Macron is elected to a second five year term or cedes the presidency's Elysee Palace to far right nationalist Marine Le Pen. This would be a significant outcome for France and Europe in the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine.

The stakes are high and it has never been more difficult for leftist voters to make a decision. They view Macron and Le Pen both as anathema and some call it "between the plague or cholera."

It's so horrible that it makes one weep. Clek Desentredeux says that she has spent many nights in tears and not knowing what to do after voting for Jean-Luc Melenchon, the hard-left leader in round 1.

Melenchon was just 420,000 votes short of winning the runoff. finished third behind Le Pen with 7.7 million votes. Since , Macron and Le Pen have spent much time searching for support in Melenchon's now disillusioned and orphaned voters. Both are fighting an uphill battle.

Many leftist voters dislike Macron's get-things done middle-way governance style, which siphons ideas, supporters and political oxygen away form the mainstream parties of the right and left.

Many leftist voters are hungry for a more ideological and sharper political divide and his pragmatism seems too stale and opportunistic. Many describe the 44-year old former banker as a friend of the rich and an oppressor for the poor. Many also blame him as Le Pen's rise. They say that Macron, an ex-banker, tried to undermine support for the extreme right in France, but he went too right-ward.

Le Pen is Macron's salvation. After years of bantering about Islam's influence in the country, which has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, 53-year-old Macron is regarded by many left-leaning parties as a racist xenophobe, too dangerous to vote for France's "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" principles. Melenchon, who conceded defeat in round 1, said that his supporters "mustn't give a single vote Madame Le Pen" - repeating the exhortation 4 times.

He did not ask his electors to vote for Macron. Instead, he left them to decide between what Melenchon called "two evils."

Some people will intentionally spoil their ballots. They may even put toilet paper in the voting envelope, instead of the name of the candidate to show how dimly the candidates see the options. Some won't vote. Some people will vote with their names only.

Emma Faroy, 22, is a Parisian.

She said, "I'm going vote because some women gave their lives for my right to vote." "But I'm going for a blank ballot, because I don’t want to pick between them."

Others will vote for Macron, to keep Le Pen out of office, and hold their noses almost literally. In a joke at the president, some will support Le Pen. Multiple polls show that Macron, who won round 1, is building a substantial lead in the runoff, which is greater than the polling margin. The Melenchon voters of round one seem to be moving in greater numbers towards him than Le Pen. The outcome is uncertain as many are yet to decide.

Pierre Gineste, a retired power worker, said that "I'll make a decision at the last minute." After having voted Melenchon in round 1, round 2 for him will be the dilemma of a Macron ballot, a blank ballot, or not voting. He stated that he would not vote for Le Pen.

This difficult decision is so divisive that families and friendships are being tested. Aitzegagh voted in round one for the green party candidate; Melenchon was his daughter's choice. Then, she told her father that she may vote Le Pen in round two because Macron is too much for her. Aitzegagh responded by warning that he would discredit you if you vote Le Pen.

Aitzegagh was one of 82% of voters who voted for conservative Jacques Chirac in 2002. This powerful rejection of the extreme left came after Jean-Marie Le Pen, Jean-Marie's father, shocked France with his victory in the runoff.

Aitzegagh voted in 2017 for Macron in the runoff -- again, it was solely to barrage Marine Le Pen. Despite the fact that Macron won easily (66% to 34%), many of his votes were actually against her. On Sunday, the same will happen.

Aitzegagh will not vote in this first election, and it is because Macron's first term was "five years, five, crap, and five years destruction," and Le Pen is not an option.

He said, "I don’t want to be a rage anymore." "I'm done."

Desentredeux, who uses a gender-neutral pronoun, they, deliberated long and hard about their decision -- before deciding that Le Pen's presence in the runoff meant that they had no other choice.

This is the first time Desentredeux has been able to vote in a presidential election. It will end with a reluctant vote by Macron.

Desentredeux stated that "Macron winning would have been a disaster, but Le Pen getting through it would be criminal." "I feel obliged, even though I don't want it."

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