French Elections: Independent vs Outsider

WHAT IT IS

  • April 24, 2017: Round 1 of France’s Presidential Election.
  • Four main contenders entered the first round, each representing vastly different political ideologies.
  • Emmanuel Macron (centrist) and Marine Le Pen (nationalist) finished first and second in the first round with 23 percent and 21 percent respectively.
  • Results were seen as a political earthquake, as the two candidates viewed as ‘non-political’ elites.

WHY IT MATTERS

Following the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S. and the Brexit vote in the U.K., this election is the best indicator to see if the populist/nationalist movement has any staying power in Europe. Moreover, if the nationalist Le Pen takes office, it could signal a complete dissolution of the European Union (EU).

  • NATIONALIST VIEW: “la France aux francais!”

    • Nationalism: The French government has only one job – to protect national interest.
    • Close the borders: Waves of illegal immigration have given terrorists the upper hand in the War on Terror.
    • Frexit: Tyranny of the E.U. must stop, and France must leave to protect her people.
    • Intelligent protectionism: We must pursue ‘French-first’ policies and not sign any more free trade agreements.
  • CENTRISTS VIEW: “Standing strong with Europe!”

    • Positive vibes: A positive campaign with a progressive view is the best way to go about the challenges facing France.
    • Loosen up: Strict labor laws have scared off a wealth of businesses and it is time to deregulate.
    • No Frexit here: Leaving the E.U. would do nothing to help France or her people.
    • Cut, Cut, Cut: From housing taxes to corporate taxes, the rates need to be cut to alleviate economic pressure.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • Le Pen and Macron will be on the ballot for a second round of voting on May 7.
  • With Macron and Le Pen, the French people will have a choice between a centrist independent and a far-right nationalist.
  • Currently, Le Pen is in a deep hole (26 percent behind Macron) and faces extreme odds to winning in the runoff election on May 7.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

  • Will either candidate focus more on economic issues (globalization and nationalism) or social issues?
  • Would a victory for Le Pen mean the end of the E.U. as we know it? Could the E.U. survive without both the UK and France?
  • Can Macron effectively govern having never held political office before?
  • Is this election representative of a nationalist movement across the globe?