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French President Emmanuel Macron has played a significant role in attempting to mediate the crisis in Ukraine, holding several phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the war began. Without referring to the conflict, Mr Macron has admitted that he won’t be able to lead his campaign as he “would have liked to”. So, if the situation were to escalate further, could it put April’s presidential election at risk of taking place?
Last week, just 24 hours before the deadline to announce his candidacy, Mr Macron declared he would be running for a second term as French President.
In a detailed letter addressed to the French people, the 44-year-old made it clear that the upcoming election would be different to others.
He said: “I will not be able to lead this campaign as I would have liked to because of the context.
“But with clarity and commitment, I will explain our project and our will to continue pushing our country forward with each and every one of you.”
Could the French presidential election be delayed?
Although Mr Macron has acknowledged he will not be able to place as much focus on next month’s presidential election as he would like, there is no suggestion that the vote will be postponed.
Gabriel Attal, the official spokesman for the French Government, also offered his assurances that Mr Macron will be taking part in the traditional televised candidates’ debates.
According to Article 6 of the French constitution, the Head of State must be “elected for five years by direct universal suffrage”.
Article 7 also stipulated the election must take place “at least 20 days and at most 35 days before the expiry of the powers of the incumbent president”.
Mr Macron’s current term expires on May 13, so theoretically voting could be pushed back.
However, French presidential elections take place over two rounds of voting which must be held two weeks apart.
Traditionally, polling day takes place on a Sunday, as it is judged to be the day when the French are most at liberty to go and vote.
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This year’s elections are scheduled to begin on April 10. Should a second-round run-off be needed, it could finish as late as April 24.
These could be moved back to April 17 and May 1, but it’s hard to see the advantage of moving polling dates by just one week.
Moving polling day any later than April 17 or May 1 would require a change or suspension in the constitution, which has only happened in extremely dramatic moments in France’s history.
Mr Macron has spoken with Putin four times, via telephone, since he ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine more than two weeks ago.
During the latest call – held last week – Mr Putin told the French President the war in Ukraine was “going according to plan”, and the invasion will continue “until the end” unless negotiations meet his terms.
Putin is seeking a guarantee from Ukraine that it will never agree to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and for it to recognise the occupied territories of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.
Russia has also claimed it will stop attacking the country if Ukraine ceases military action.
Many on the global stage have mocked Mr Macron’s “naivety” in trying to maintain relations with Putin.
The Kremlin’s decision to only offer humanitarian corridors to Russia and Belarus suggested his negotiations have fallen short of success.
Mr Macron is the clear favourite with most pollsters to secure a second term in office when French voters take to the polling booths next month.
Politico’s most recent survey – correct as of March 8 – gave the incumbent President 29 percent of the vote.
The closest challengers to Mr Macron are likely to be Valérie Pécresse, the candidate for the centre-right liberal-conservative Les Republicains party, or the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
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