October 21, 2017

French election 2017: Why is it important?

4France’s voters have rejected the two big political parties that have governed for decades and are now at a crossroads as they choose a president.
Will they go for a pro-European liberal who has never before been elected, or a far-right challenger to the establishment, who has vowed to take on globalisation and France’s relationship with the EU?
After the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of US President Donald Trump, France is the latest country to deal a blow to politics as usual.
What is new about this election?
The Socialists and the centre right have run France since the 1950s, but the old model has been shattered.
An unpopular and divided ruling Socialist party and a Republican candidate in the crosshairs of judicial inquiry have cleared the way for a president who has never been elected to the French National Assembly.
Whoever wins, centrist Emmanuel Macron or populist Marine Le Pen, France will have a president with an agenda for change.
Is Le Pen far-right?
Emmanuel Macron: The meteoric rise of France’s youngest presidential candidate
Five things the French election has told us
The far right already runs eight towns and has 20 MEPs in the European Parliament – but is widely shunned by the political mainstream.
Mr Macron’s En Marche! (On the Move!) movement is an unknown quantity. Set up in April 2016 when he was economy minister, it has never before contested an election. And until now, nor has he.
What is at stake?
Voters will be making a decision on France’s future direction and on its place at the heart of the European Union.
If they opt for Emmanuel Macron, they will be backing a candidate who seeks EU reform as well as deeper European integration, in the form of a eurozone budget and eurozone finance ministers.
If instead they choose Marine Le Pen she promises quite the opposite. She wants a Europe of nations to replace the EU.
“I give myself six months to negotiate with the EU the return of sovereignty. Then it will be the French who decide,” she tweeted.
The assumption is that she would fail and a referendum would take place initially on France’s membership of the euro.
A poll in March suggested that seven out of 10 French voters were opposed to France pulling out of the EU, but Emmanuel Macron was the only candidate standing on a pro-EU platform in the first round of the presidential election.
Who will win?
All opinion polls suggest Mr Macron is heading for a big victory, polling about 60% in the second round – though his lead has narrowed in the last days before voting.

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