Until August 2016 Emmanuel Macron was the Finance Minister of France. A young politician without experience in elections. The 39 years-old candidate became the top contender to take office at the Elysee Palace after getting 24,01% of votes while Marine Le Pen got 21,03%. The result highlights the trend that outsiders can win.
The first round of elections was characterized by uncertainty. Why? Because pollsters have failed to predict the outcomes of the Brexit vote and the American election. Therefore, French pollsters gained a lot of credit for better demographic modeling.
The third most voted contender, François Fillon, recognized the failures of his campaign. Fillon faces corruption charges for employing members of his family. This scandal blocked a more fruitful debate on action plans for France. Following the results his party, “Les Républicains”, called its supporters to vote against Le Pen.
Jean-Luc Mélanchon a leftist candidate gained momentum after debates. However, it was too late for him to gain more support from voters. Differently from “Les Républicains”, Mélanchon avoided supporting a candidate during the second round. This stance lasted until Wednesday (April 26), when Alexis Corbière, the spokesman for the movement “La France Insoumise”, declared that ” not one vote must go to the National Front.”
Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon and the French President himself decided to support Macron.
What is at stake?
Mr. Macron supports a France that is fully engaged in Europe, in the world. Also, a French that is happy to receive immigrants. Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Macron right after results were made available.
— Margaritis Schinas (@MargSchinas) 23 April 2017
With regards to Europe, Le Pen’s approach goes in the opposite direction. Like Nigel Farage who built his political career in the EU, Le Pen is against the bloc. If elected she promises holding a referendum (Frexit) to leave it. Besides, she would like to reinstate the Franc as national currency. The former president of the National Front (she left her post this week to focus in her campaign) announced plans to halt immigration and protect national borders.
Despite who wins on May 7, the new president will have to cope with a vast range of challenges. First, it’s unlikely that he or she will have majority in the parliament. Building coalitions is never an easy task. Second, there are many blind spots in the programmes of the remaining contenders. Which leaves room for uncertainty until names for high level positions are published.
The globalism versus nationalism becomes a clear dilemma in France. Most pollsters forecast a win for Macron. However, his popularity shall not last long if he is unable to deliver reforms to boost economic growth and reduce unemployment. Le Pen likes to highlight that many jobs are going abroad, this week she visited a factory of Whirlpool in Amiens, the hometown of Emmanuel Macron. The plant will be shutdown and 300 employees are going to be laid off.