Marine Le Pen

By Davis Anderson
NEWS Reporter


 

T
he political landscape was rocked by the recent election in the United States, causing a wave of support for right or far right ideologies; as a result, we have arrived at a major turning point for Europe: the French election, an election that has been, as Daphne Valen ’19, who currently resides in Paris, put it, “Even crazier than the U.S election.”

France is a country approaching 65 million people, and has the world’s sixth largest economy. With Brexit, France will soon boast the second largest economy in the EU, behind Germany. If France were to leave as well, it could very well lead to the collapse of the EU. Currently, there are many candidates in the election who want France to leave the EU, the most notable being far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, a frontrunner in the election and a controversial figure.

So how badly does France want a new president? Or are they content with their current president? Well, the current president is Francois Hollande, and he has an approval rating of just four percent. That makes Donald Trump’s 39 percent look great. The French people are eager to elect a new president. There were over 150 candidates, all with a different platform, and many of them very colorful characters.

From this batch, only 11 received the 500 sponsorships required to move on to the first round, or “Premier Tour”. Out of these 11, four emerged as the frontrunners in this race and only two candidates eventually advanced, Le Pen and social democrat Emmanuel Macron. The other two, Jean-Luc Melenchon and Francois Fillon, were eliminated.

Melenchon is a career politician, who is head of the political party “La France Insoumise”, which loosely translates to Untamed France, but moreover represents the idea that France is powerful and unsubmissive. Nicolas Sarkozy, who ran against the current French president, had the slogan “La France Forte” (Strong France), which sends a similar message: a France with more international respect.

Fillon is a conservative politician who ran under a center-right platform. Fillon was accused in January of embezzling money and paying his wife and children for what appeared to be little to no work. Fillon later denied these claims, but, due to this controversy, his polls dropped, likely costing him the Premier Tour.

As we approach “La Second Tour”, only two candidates remain.

Current frontrunner Macron garnered 24 percent of the vote in the first round. Macron is considered a centrist for the most part, and represents a moderate and reasonable platform compared to the many other candidates that are seen as unpractical or too extreme. The EU is currently still feeling the waves caused by Brexit, and with the increase in terror attacks in France, many want to look to moderate and stable candidate.

His competitor, Le Pen, has been a major point of controversy in this election. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, is a French nationalist and is often associated with far right political views, as well as being known for his anti-Semitism and xenophobia. The younger Le Pen has done much to distance herself from her father’s image.

So what is next for France and the EU? The decision lies the hands of the French people. Will they choose the generally inoffensive option or the most controversial option, with great ramifications for the nation, the EU, and even the world?

Special thanks to Madame Heather Prescott for helping with the research for this article.

 

Posted in: Opinion

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