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Two-thirds of far-left Mélenchon backers to abstain, cast blank vote in presidential run-off

Philippe Lopez, AFP | ‘Unsubmissive France’ supporters march during the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017

Some two-thirds of the far-left 'Unsubmissive France' movement plan to abstain from voting or cast a blank ballot in Sunday’s presidential run-off between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, results showed Tuesday.

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Opinion polls currently show Macron set to win about 60 percent of the votes in the second and final round of the elections. Analysts say that in order for him to win, however, Macron needs to secure some of the 20 percent of the first round votes that favoured Jean-Luc Mélenchon – the leader of La France Insoumise, or the ‘Unsubmissive France’, movement.

Macron and Le Pen knocked out Mélenchon along with eight other candidates in the first round of voting on April 23.

While most left-wing voters are turned off by Le Pen's anti-immigration and anti-EU policies, many also find it hard to back Macron's economically liberal approach.

Company bosses, celebrities and scientific researchers have all called for people to rally behind Macron, who styles himself as "neither of the left nor the right".

The results of the ‘Unsubmissive France’ survey showed that 36.1 percent planned to cast a blank ballot, 34.8 percent would back Macron and 29.1 percent would abstain from voting.

Over 240,000 of the leftist movement’s 430,000 members took part in the non-binding party poll, in which a vote for Le Pen was not among the options.

‘Think rationally’

The Socialist government said the far-left's decision to abstain en masse was "an error".

Spokesman Stéphane Le Foll said he could not understand the decision, adding: "The left has traditionally always been in the fight against the National Front."

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a veteran rebel of French politics, called on Mélenchon's supporters to put aside their "hatred" of Macron.

"Think rationally and vote for Emmanuel Macron and defend democracy and freedom," the former ecologist Euro MP told Europe 1 radio.

About seven million people voted for Mélenchon in the first round of the presidential election, who finished in fourth place after tallying 19.6% of the overall vote.

Mélenchon himself has already said he will not vote for Le Pen and does not expect any of his supporters will either.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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