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  • Daira Povez-Gamboa

French Elections: What You Should Know!

April 24th represents a crucial day in France and it seems we're having a flashback to something that has already happened. Indeed, the French Elections in 2017 had the same two main characters: Le Pen and Macron. However, at that time, Macron defeated Le Pen with 66% of the vote, however nowadays the predicted outcome is far narrower.

What has changed? Is France of 2017 so different to France Today? The most accurate answer might be that the world has changed drastically: A pandemic, energy crisis, a war, just to mention a few examples.

The answer is probably that we had a clear antecedent: Trump's Election in 2016 was driven principally by nationalism and breaking up the traditional right-left categories. The Republicans tended to be a party in favour of free trade, globalization and foreign policy oriented to the “right” wing, while during Trump’s government, the US was dominated by protectionism and Isolationism.

Another example is Brexit. The slogan of “Global Britain” gathered support because it represented national greatness;- in that Britain is supposed to have high global importance and it's membership in the EU was restricting this through tight border controls and a decline in international trade.

That is why it is fundamental to understand the biggest change in French politics: the transition from a right-left to a nationalist-internationalist perspective. Le Pen is catalogued as “far-right”, she rejects this assumption highlighting that “There is no more right and left”. However, she denotes that “The future does not belong to the globalist. The future belongs to the patriots. The new political division now is between those who are in favour of globalisation against those who are afraid of it.

Le Pen’s inclinations have been associated with Trump and Putin and her slogan “Give the French their country back” shows that she is sceptical of the EU and NATO. What will happen to France if she wins? She plans to rewrite the French constitution to ensure tighter border controls to cut off migrants from subsidies and healthcare. In contrast, Le Pen has ensured that France will not leave the EU, but what will happen if this happens? Is Frexit an ideal plan?

On the hand, Macron’s campaign is based on liberalisation of the economy and the French recovery post-pandemic. He has been highly involved in diplomatic negotiations regarding the Russian-Ukraine war. However, he has been called the “president of the rich” in a fractioned France where people prefer to “keep themselves to themselves, rather than together as one”. Macron’s dreams of a united France might be the greatest danger, but also it can keep him the power for another five years.

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