(Al Jazeera) French President Emmanuel Macron has formally announced that he will run for a second term in April’s presidential election, ahead of which he is already leading in the polls.
In a “letter to the French” published on domestic media websites on Thursday, Macron said: “I am seeking your trust again. I am a candidate to invent with you, faced with the century’s challenges, a French and European singular response.”
Macron, 44, had long indicated that he wanted to run in the election, scheduled to be held in two rounds on April 10 and April 24, without formally announcing it until now. But his initial campaign plans have changed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the past weeks, the centrist president has dedicated most of his time to diplomatic talks with world leaders and coordination with European and other Western allies.
Polls suggest Macron is the frontrunner in the race. Conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse and two far-right figures, Marine le Pen and Eric Zemmour, are expected to be his main challengers.
Henri Wallard, chairman of the IPSOS in France polling firm, said Macron’s candidacy is boosted by his being in office. Wallard noted the 21 million viewers who watched Macron’s address to the nation this week centred on the war in Ukraine and its consequences.
“That’s after he spoke nine times to the French during the COVID crisis. So he doesn’t play on the same team as the other candidates, because he is already in charge and dealing with a crisis,” Wallard told The Associated Press news agency.
Macron’s popularity in recent months has remained relatively stable, with an approval rating hovering around 40 percent depending on poll institutes – higher than his predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy had after nearly five years in office.
Macron said in his letter that the war in Ukraine would prevent him from campaigning “as I would have liked”.
“I’ll explain our project, our desire to continue to move our country forward with each of you,” he said.