Late Sunday afternoon, the latest 2017 French elections polls will close and results will reveal whether centrist Onwards! candidate Emmanuel Macron or far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen will be the next president of France.
He’ll be youngest French President in modern times, aged 39. Early projections modified upwards for Macron, 65.5%; far-right’s Le Pen 34.5. pic.twitter.com/YZ2FjHcdY7
— Seamus Kearney (@seamuskearney_) May 7, 2017
UPDATE: Belgian media is reporting that surveys by three separate institutes on Sunday found that the Onwards! candidate was expected to win with at least 60 percent of the vote, reported Le Soir.
If pre-election polls are to be believed, Emmanuel will have no difficulty vanquishing Marine in Sunday’s election. In every poll released during the month of May, Macron beat Le Pen by a commanding margin of at least 20 percent of the total vote, usually coming out even further ahead of her. These numbers include one large Ipsos/CEVIPOF/LeMonde poll with 5,331 respondents conducted on Friday, where the centrist candidate actually took 63 percent of the vote to his far-right competitor’s 37 percent, a sizable 26 percentage point margin of victory.
The campaign has been one of the most tumultuous in French history, with neither the ruling Socialist Party or its traditional opposition, the Republicans, making it to the run-off. In the first round of voting, the Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon was not even able to achieve 7 percent of the results, coming in well behind the four frontrunners — including far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, with whom he had unsuccessfully attempted to form a coalition earlier in the election.
First-round polls preceding the vote were relatively similar to the final French election results. All of them correctly predicted that Macron and Le Pen would prevail, with Republican François Fillon and Melenchon coming in narrowly behind them. Emmanuel’s final voting tally reflected his average in the polls, 24 percent, while Marine came in more than a full point behind her average in the pre-vote polls.
This detail is significant because of concerns that, like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, right-wing populism will have a stronger showing in the final results of the French election than polls predict. Yet with only two weeks between the first round of the French presidential elections and the run-off on Sunday, it seems less likely that these numbers will shift — especially considering the fact that it was Le Pen and not Macron that did not reach poll expectations in the first round.
However, just over 48 hours ahead of the election, a trove of emails from Emmanuel’s campaign were released to the public. Bound by law, French media are on a gag order about reporting about their contents, which also limits Macron’s ability to respond to them. On Twitter, #MacronLeaks trends while thousands of French voters dig through the batch, though as of yet, nothing has been officially confirmed or investigated.
No matter what the emails contain, the two candidates stand at such sharply different ends of the spectrum of French politics that it’s difficult to imagine the leak having a decisive influence on the outcome of the election. Still, it does lead to uncertainty about who will show up at the polls, and, as no polling will have been carried out following the surprise release, the election results will be the first measure of their impact.
Marine Le Pen
Marine hasn’t shied away from comparisons to Donald Trump during the French presidential campaign. She has, in fact, openly praised him, and even decided to stop at Trump Tower for coffee during a visit to New York City. Like the American president, Le Pen has been called Islamophobic by the press for a hard line on immigration. She was taken to court for inciting racial hatred when she compared Muslim immigration to the Nazi occupation of France, reported BBC News.
Also, like her North American counterpart, she favors economic protectionism, similarly waging war on globalism in her speeches. One of her key bases of support are rural French, much like the districts which carried Trump to victory. While refusing to give an endorsement, the U.S. president did recently say that she was the “strongest candidate” in the presidential race.
Unlike Trump, Marine is not running for president in a country with an electoral college system. While she maintained the top level of support for most of the first-round campaign, many French citizens would sooner not vote than vote for Ms. Le Pen.
She also strongly differs from Trump in political experience. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been in politics for decades, making it to the second round of France’s presidential elections in 2002 — where he lost by the widest margin in the country’s history to Jacques Chirac.
The presidential candidate leading the polls has also been compared to a U.S. president: Barack Obama. Likewise, he has also welcomed the association. Emmanuel shared a snippet of his call with the former American president on social media last month. Others have compared him with Hillary Clinton, sometimes unfavorably, in the context of his more centrist approach to politics.
If the Russian government is trying to shake up the established order, Macron would be their biggest roadblock. He’s the only candidate who is considered antagonistic to Russia, and he’s also spoken out the most about remaining in NATO and the European Union. One article from Sputnik quoted a source linking him to the “wealthy gay lobby,” a insinuating rumor that followed him throughout his candidacy.
Check back to this article to see if the 2017 French elections polls correctly called a victory in the final results for Emmanuel Macron and a failure for Marine Le Pen.
[Featured Image by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]