French nationals are waiting to submit their vote next Sunday, May 7. According to polls, voting sentiment appears to benefit centrist Emmanuel Macron rather than right-wing conservative Marine Le Pen.
Le Pen supports closing borders and anti-globalization movements, getting rid of the euro, and policies closely related to her father Jean-Marie, which founded the initially-xenophobic National Front party. On the other hand, Macron, an ex-investment banker who served as economy minister, despite being a newcomer to politics managed to beat mainstream politicians at the primaries with a 24 percent majority, while Le Pen scored 21 percent. He is the leader of the En Marche! Party and supports liberal and pro-business policies.
France faces two opposite candidates
Currently, four major polls agree that Macron may win an average of 62 percent of votes in the final round of the election, while Le Pen remains at 38 percent. Analysts suggest that Macron secured the lead by winning the televised debate held recently.
The debate was remembered for its intensity. Macron was noted to have a presidential mood while Le Pen focused on trying to put him in a spot where he would be seen as a successor to mainstream French politics. Macron’s strategy was to focus on positive and optimistic outcomes, while Le Pen appealed to the defeatist side of the French people, where fear of immigrants and globalization dictate how they would want their country to be run.
Analysts point out that Le Pen put most of her effort into lowering Macron and trying to convince the audience that she was ready to take power. She attacked Macron claiming that he was just a banker who will sell France to foreigners, she provoked him repeatedly and even told him to drink some water so he calmed himself down.
At one point, Macron burst at Le Pen and told her: “I’m sorry, Madame Le Pen, France deserves better than you.”
After the debate, media outlets consistently criticized Le Pen for remaining in a state of continuous aggression. She was seen as evasive to establish a serious debate on reform policies because she solely focused on bringing Macron down. Eventually, Le Pen hinted at the possibility of Macron having an “offshore account in the Bahamas” without any proof. Reportedly, Paris prosecutors had opened an investigation against Le Pen for defamation, as she may have based her claim on forged documents that were attributed to Macron, according to The Guardian. Macron assured that he does not have banking accounts in any tax haven.
When confronted about the issue and about whether she meant to accuse him, Le Pen changed her mind and assured that she was only asking a question:
“Not at all. If I wanted to do so I would have done it yesterday. I’ve just asked him the question. If I had proof, I would have claimed it yesterday,” she stated.
Voters will decide their future based on either principles or fear
Still, looking at the results of the first round of the election, news outlets agree that both candidates still need to attract the remaining 55 percent of voters who chose any of the other candidates. This is why uncertain voters may choose the “lesser of two evils” depending on what they expect for the future of France.
In response, Macron’s party has been visiting voters from door to door in poor districts to encourage voters to pledge their support. Most of the population in poor districts are immigrants of African descent, although there are also families of white European ethnicity.
Recently, protesters escalated the Eiffel Tower to hang a sign against Le Pen’s policies. They were Greenpeace activists and they managed to display a large banner for 45 minutes reading “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” the motto of the Republic since the French Revolution, which was widely spread during the Age of Enlightenment.
The stability of the EU is at stake
From the international perspective, the result of the election is of critical importance for Germany, the country which seems to be the leader in European Union affairs. Chancellor Angela Merkel recently delivered a speech where she called for increased speed and decision to take measures that help European countries cooperate with each other. Germany and France are seen as the main pillars of the European Union.
Because Britain has already opted for exiting the EU, most British conservative politicians would like Le Pen to win. Curiously, according to a map by the French Ministry of Interior, the regions closer to Britain contain those in favor of Macron, while Eastern regions are in favor or Le Pen.
While France prepares for its presidential elections and its National Assembly elections, which are a month from now, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is preparing for a fourth term in office seeing that with each passing day, the stability of the European Union seems to be at a higher risk of being compromised.