More than 400 French artists and entertainment figures, including Juliette Binoche and Charlotte Gainsbourg, have signed an emotionally charged op-ed published in Le Monde newspaper on April 15 to urge people to vote for incumbent President Emmanuel Macron during the election runoff on April 24.

The letter is aimed at those who may not support Macron’s politics, probably didn’t vote for him during the first round of the election and are now inclined to abstain from going to the polls next Sunday. Actors, filmmakers, musicians, artists and producers who signed the plea argue that casting a ballot in favor of Macron, a pro-EU centrist, is an absolute necessity as it is the only way to beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Like in 2017, Macron and Le Pen qualified for the runoff with 27.84% and 23.15% of the vote, respectively.

Many people in the film and cultural industries voted for Jean-Luc Melenchon, the hardleft candidate and leader of La France Insoumise party. After being defeated with 21.95 % of the vote, Melenchon called on his supporters to not give a single vote to Le Pen but elected against encouraging them to go vote for Macron.

It’s the third time a far-right candidate makes it to the second round of the election since the Fifth Republic was established by Charles de Gaulle in 1958. Before the 2017 election, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father, who founded the notoriously anti-semitic and xenophobic Front National party, faced incumbent President Jacques Chirac in 2002. Chirac and Macron ultimately won the 2002 and 2017 elections with 82.21% and 66.10 % of votes, respectively.

Le Pen has gained significant ground since rebranding her party Rassemblement National in 2018 to widen her base, as well as making appeals to the centre and even to the left. During this race, she positioned herself as a socialist and has been increasingly perceived as a more moderate candidate compared to the other – more radical —far-right candidate, Eric Zemmour, a former pundit who was nicknamed “France’s Trump.”

Le Pen’s political program, however, continues to pose a threat to democratic and republican principles, argues the plea, which was also signed by Jane Birkin, François Cluzet, Gilles Lellouche, Guillaume Canet, Fabrice Luchini, Jeanne Balibar and Caroline Benjo, among others.

Here are some abstracts of the letter:

“Actresses and actors of the world of culture and live entertainment, we often have profound disagreements (…) with the power in place. We have also felt deceptions, anger and even rage. But even if the outcome of this election’s first round was not one we hoped for, even if some of us still feel some distrust (towards Macron), today, there is no hesitation, no doubt, wavering.

“We don’t put on the same level democracy and populism, (or) a democratic government and the Rassemblement National.

“Nothing in Marine Le Pen’s program reflects the legacy of France as a country of resistance, humanism, generosity and openness towards the world.

“Tomorrow, we don’t dare to imagine what would become of our country’s cultural landscape if (she won the election). We cannot imagine, at the helm of France, a candidate whose program remains one of xenophobia and bigotry, a candidate who made alliances with totalitarian (regimes).

“We can’t imagine the feeling of the Ukrainian people who have been invaded, bombarded and massacred, when they would discover that we have elected an accomplice of the Kremlin’s leader at the head of our country.

“We can’t imagine that France, the country of the enlightenment and the Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen, would bring to power a president whose self-proclaimed friendships with the worst dictators in power, and cause us shame or dishonor.”