Make France Great Again: The Candidacy of Marine Le Pen
On Sunday, French voters turned out to the polls to select a new president. There were actually eleven viable candidates in the presidential election and a candidate would have had to win a clear majority to win the presidency outright. However, no candidate received a clear majority. Therefore, the top two will face each other in a runoff election on May 7.
One of those two is Emmanuel Macron, who received 24% of the vote. Macron, a former investment banker, is thirty-nine years old and has served under both former President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Although Macron was mounting a quasi-independent campaign without any support from the major parties, both the current Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon, and many of the political elites are lending their support to him in the runoff election. With such support, Macron is the odds-on favorite going into the election.
However, enter stage right is our other candidate in the runoff, the controversial and right-wing firebrand Marine Le Pen. She is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far-right National Front political party. The senior Le’Pen lost a bid for the presidency in a runoff election himself back in 2002.
This is Marine’s second run for the presidency. Back in 2012, she came in third place behind the incumbent Nikolas Sarkozy and the eventual winner current President Francois Hollande.
With Le Pen’s stances on reducing immigration, opposition to international alliances (like the European Union), and fiercely combating terrorism, her candidacy has sparked comparison with that of sitting American President Donald J. Trump.
Le Pen in a fiery speech to cheering supporters, declared that she embodies “the great alternative” for French voters. She portrayed her duel with Macron as a battle between “patriots” and “wild deregulation” warning of job losses, overseas, mass immigration straining resources at home and “the free circulation of terrorists.” – (Associated Press)
Le Pen has indicated that she would like for France to leave the European Union (EU) which stands in direct contrast to Macron who is committed to France being more engaged with the EU.
Marine Le Pen, who is forty nine, has served in various political offices and has been a member of the French Parliament since 2009. Because of her involvement in the National Front, she has always been considered outside of the mainstream.
Her candidacy is looked upon as a threat to many in both the established Left and Right.
After not being able to qualify for the runoff election, conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon immediately derided Le Pen referring to her as “extreme right.”
Extremism can only bring unhappiness and division to France. As such there is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right. – (Francois Fillon)
At an early point during the campaign, Fillon, who is head of The Republicans (formerly known as the Union for a Popular Movement) was seen as the front runner against both Macron and Hamon. However, Fillon, who served as prime minister of France from 2007 to 2012 under Former President Nikolas Sarkozy, only received 20% of the vote compared to Le Pen’s 21% which disqualified him for the runoff election.
Fillon said he would vote for Macron on May 7 because Le Pen’s program “would bankrupt France” and throw the EU in chaos. Fillon also cited what he called the history of “violence and intolerance” Le Pen’s far-right National Front party…. – (Associated Press)
Marine Le Pen is definitely fighting an uphill battle against the entire establishment of the French political system but her campaign is making strong appeal to the ordinary people in a similar appeal to that of President Donald J. Trump in the recent 2016 election.