France’s far-right anti-multiculturalism and anti-European Union candidate, Marine Le Pen, has secured a spot for herself in the May 7 run-off election. Le Pen will be campaigning against Emmanuel Macron, a centrist and relative newcomer to politics.
Macron snapped up 23.7 percent of the vote, placing him in the lead, while Le Pen obtained the second place with 21.7 percent. Pundits’ view the rise of these two anti-establishment candidates is a clear sign that France is rejecting the prevailing political order.
CNN‘s Melissa Bell was in the country to report on the elections and remarked that “France’s political map is tonight redrawn.” Popular Belgian journalist, Christine Ockrent, described the French presidential election result as a “political earthquake” both for France and for the rest of Europe. According to Ockrent, Emmanuel Macron is the candidate that represents optimism.
The third and fourth place candidates were François Fillon with 19.9 percent of the vote, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon with 19.3 percent of the vote respectively. Benoît Hamon of the Socialist Party performed poorly by receiving just 6.3 percent of the vote. While conceding defeat, Hamon said that he alone was responsible for the undesirable result and went on to endorse Emmanuel Macron as the candidate his supporters should vote for.
Many of France’s politicians threw their weight behind Macron, choosing instead to speak out against Marine Le Pen. France’s Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve took to Twitter to appeal to all voters to support Macron in the upcoming run-off.
— Bernard Cazeneuve (@BCazeneuve) April 23, 2017
France’s Republican candidate, François Fillon, was hailed as a favorite in the run-up to the first round of the 2017 French presidential elections, but his campaign was likely fatally wounded by a scandal that involved his wife and daughter allegedly receiving compensation for work they did not do.
During Fillon’s concession speech he urged his constituency to get behind Emmanuel Macron in order to defeat Le Pen’s “extremism.”
“The Front National is well known for its violence and its intolerance, and its programme would lead our country to bankruptcy and Europe into chaos. Extremism can can only bring unhappiness and division to France. There is no other choice than to vote against the far right. I will vote for Emmanuel Macron.”
French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve spoke on behalf of his own Socialist Party – led in the 2017 election by Benoît Hamon – to urge voters not to fall for Marine Le Pen’s divisive rhetoric.
“I solemnly call for a vote for Emmanuel Macron in the second round in order to beat the Front National and obstruct the disastrous project of Marine Le Pen that would take France backwards and divide the French people.”
Thirty-nine-year-old Macron is an independent centrist and has never held elected public office. However, he did work for some time as the minister of the economy under a former government. Macron’s party, “En Marche!” was only created towards the end of 2016, but nevertheless, he has managed to draw enormous crowds at party rallies.
Marine Le Pen is 48-years-old and leads the National Front, a far-right party that was founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Marine has often been compared to Donald Trump due to their overlapping ideologies. Le Pen, like Trump, is known for her anti-immigration, anti-EU, and anti-globalization rhetoric. She also wants to “impose a temporary ban on legal immigration to France” if she manages to win the presidency.
“The French people must seize this opportunity because the enormous challenge of this election is the wild globalization that puts our civilization at risk. Either we continue to disintegrate without any borders, without any controls, unfair international competition, mass immigration and the free circulation of terrorists, or you choose France with borders.”
[Featured Image by Christophe Ena/AP Images]