PARIS Fewer French voters believe centrist Emmanuel Macron got off to a good start in the last lap of France’s presidential election than far right leader Marine Le Pen, a poll showed on Thursday.
Macron, the favourite to win the presidency, has suffered several costly public relations missteps since he and Le Pen qualified in a first round of voting on Sunday for the decisive May 7 run-off.
The Elabe poll for BFM TV found that one out of two people surveyed considered that Le Pen’s campaign had gotten off the ground well, compared with 43 percent for Macron.
Striking workers jeered Macron, a 39-year-old former economy minister, on Wednesday during a visit to the Whirlpool tumble-drier factory in his hometown of Amiens in northern France after Le Pen unexpectedly turned up there hours earlier and was well received.
Although Macron held his ground and the tension eventually eased, television channels repeatedly broadcast film of the candidate being heckled, marking a stark contrast with Le Pen taking photographs with workers.
With polls indicating Macron will win the run-off against Le Pen by a comfortable margin, he has also taken heat for seemingly acting as if victory were already in the bag.
Rivals and potential allies alike criticised his visit on Sunday night to an elegant Parisian restaurant for celebrations after coming out on top in the first round of voting.
The visit to the Left Bank brasserie made him an easy target for Le Pen’s campaign which seized on the incident to portray the former investment banker as a member of an arrogant political elite out of touch with the people.
After that incident, Macron laid low for several days, while Le Pen’s campaign went on the offensive.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Mark Heinrich)