France is now on the verge of a very important chapter: the epic Presidential elections contested by the two most popular candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Both candidates, have strikingly different policies and are expected to lead France, struck with miseries of unemployment, a stagnant economy and also, more recently, threats to security.
These 2017 French elections, would mark the first time that both candidates have not hailed from France’s mainstream political parties.
Emmanuel Macron, 39, is not your typical candidate. He was initially a banker, and turned to civil service. In 2012, he was an aide to previous French President, Francois Hollande and in 2014, was France’s Economy Minister. He, however, resigned in 2014 and then set up En Marche!, a centrist party, just over a year ago.
Endorsed by former US president Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron promotes a pro-EU platform and has described the EU as a “guarantee of peace”. Macron is still open-minded over immigration and plans to implement integration programs for asylum seekers. However, he also plans to strengthen borders, implying that asylum seekers whose requests have been rejected cannot loiter around inside of France, in a move to strengthen the security of the country.
On the other hand, we have Marine Le Pen. Belonging to the Front National and leaning far-right, she used to be a lawyer and Regional Councillor in 1998, after which she was elected as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in 2004 and was president of the FN in 2011. She also ran as a Presidential Candidate in 2012.
In a turn of events, President Donald Trump had tweeted that Le Pen was the “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.” She also has the support of Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage. She stands against immigration and wishes to re-instate France’s borders. She has, on an occasion, stated that “Mass immigration is not an opportunity for France, it’s a tragedy for France”. Under her presidency, legal immigration is expected to be capped at 10,000 people a year and application should be outside of France. Le Pen is also against the EU and has pledged to hold a “Frexit”, a national referendum, if elected.
Nevertheless, Emmanuel Macron has emerged as the more popular candidate. His policies and his young image and centrist stance appeals to most of the voters. The people are comfortable with France being a part of the global trading system, and rejected Marine Le Pen’s nationalist and strong and brutal stance on many cases. Her de-demonization of the party did less to soften its image and the banning of major newspaper agencies caused a big blow to her run.
With Macron currently elected as the 25th President of France, lets hope he keeps true to his promises and leads France to better times.