Kensington’s French community holds breath ahead of Sunday’s presidential election

While the UK decides who will lead the country in just over a month, across the English Channel, France will decide who will lead theirs this weekend.

The French presidential election sees centrist Emmanuel Macron and the right-wing Marine Le Pen lock horns in Sunday’s run-off.

All the opinion polls point to En Marche’s (On The Move) Macron as the clear favourite but, given recent shocks such as Donald Trump’s victory and Brexit, it would be wrong to rule out Le Pen.

The two contrasting ideologies have made for an intriguing campaign so far, with Le Pen promising an EU membership referendum, raising the possibility of a ‘Frexit’, while her opponent, a former economy minister under Francois Hollande, champions the EU’s cause

With approximately 250,000 French people living in London, there will be plenty with their eyes on the results.

Daphne Thomas,  manager of Aux Merveilleux de Fred bakery in Kensington has been living in London for five months and was keeping track of Macron’s and Le Pen’s TV debate on Wednesday night.

Ms Thomas said: “The TV debate was not a good debate because it was not done in a positive way. They were just attacking each other and nothing constructive was being discussed.

“The problem is only 20% of the population voted for Macron, and less than 20% was for Fillon and less than 20% for Melenchon. The French people are very divided.

“I don’t like either candidate but I would prefer Macron to win. I think he’s missing experience and he’s quite young and I think even now he’s been caught out.”

Kensington plays host to a variety of French cafés and shops, as well as the Lycee Francais on Harrington Road.

French presidential election infographic

On the same road is Maitre Choux patisserie where pastry chef Joakim Prat has worked for the last two years.

Mr Prat said: “I hope to live here for a long time. I live here mainly for the work.

“I feel London is very clean and safe. It’s a big city which has everything and is quite organised. I never feel fear or in danger compared to when I’m in Paris. The way of life and the mentality of people is not great in Paris.”

Many within London’s French community will be holding their breath to see who France chooses as its new head of state

But, as Mr Prat indicated, the mood of many within the community is one of pessimism for France’s future — whatever the result.

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