French Presidential Election
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French Presidential Election

Round One is Over! On to Round Two!

French Presidential Election
New Statesman

The results of the first round of the French Presidential election are in, and it went just about the way the polls predicted it. Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! will face off against Marine Le Pen of the Front National . There were 11 main candidates, but the big ones that were focused on were Emmanuel Macron of the centrist En Marche! , Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National, François Fillon of the center-right Les Républicains , Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far-left La France Insoumise , and Benoît Hamon of the center-left Parti Socialiste .

The results of the election are as follows. Macron came first, followed by Le Pen, with Fillon, Mélenchon, and Hamon following suit. As per the rules of French elections, as there was no majority, the top two candidates, Macron and Le Pen, will now face off against each other in a runoff to take place on May 7.

This French election was hotly contested, and has been met with scandals and has many people around the world on the edge of their seats. With the current President, François Hollande, not running again due to low approval ratings, this election was anybody's for the taking, except, probably, for whoever the new Parti Socialiste candidate would be.

Throughout the early stages of the campaign, Le Pen was polling far ahead of the other candidates. Fillon followed behind her for some time until it was revealed that he had hired his wife Penelope as a legislative assistant, paying her while she did no substantial work. Penelopegate, as it was called, caused Fillon to fall into third place allowing Macron to climb into second. In these same early stage of the campaign, Mélenchon and Hamon were polling fourth and fifth respectively until Hamon surpassed him in the polls. However, as the campaign continued, Mélenchon passed up Hamon, and was able to come close to passing up Fillon's numbers. Around the time Mélenchon passed Hamon, Macron was also able to finally pass Le Pen in the polls, where he stayed pretty close with her up until the election.

This election has many in the world on the edge of their seats. With other victories of so-called "right wing populism" in the cases of Donald Trump and Brexit, and close calls, like in the Netherlands with Geert Wilders, many people wonder if France is going to experience the same phenomenon of a right-wing candidate, or idea, that claims to be anti-establishment winning the votes of poor whites who blame the establishment and immigrants for their problems.

Le Pen has been called the female version of Trump multiple times. Although, unlike Trump, she actually has experience in politics and is the daughter of the founder of the Front National, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Jean-Marie Le Pen has been known to be racist and downplay the horrors of the Holocaust, once stating "If you take a 1,000-page book on World War II, the concentration camps take up only two pages and the gas chambers 10 to 15 lines. This is what one calls a detail." Marine Le Pen is no where near as terrible as her father. In fact, she removed him from the party for his rhetoric as she moves to make the party more palatable to the general French populace. Nevertheless, she has been accused of Islamophobia with quotes comparing Muslim immigration to Nazi occupation and to people moving into your home an attacking your wife, which she defends as her desire to protect French culture and secularism, with her anti-immigrant rhetoric revolving around keeping French welfare for the French. However, Le Pen has also made the Front National pro-choice and does not want a complete Frexit, although she wants to back away from the EU for greater French economic independence.

Now, the runoff is approaching. Le Pen will face off against the much more centrist candidate Macron, neither of whom were originally mainstream candidates. While Macron is definitely more palatable in terms of his social rhetoric, he has a more libertarian view of welfare than Le Pen. Most polls show Macron winning the election, but like with Brexit and the election of Trump, we can only wait and see if the polls are going to accurately show what the people actually want.

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