The second round of the French Presidential elections for 2017 ends today with the race becoming a question of globalisation and multiculturalism or sovereignty and anti-mass migration.
The two candidates who made it past the first round, anti-mass migration Marine Le Pen and globalist Emmanuel Macron, could not be further from each other in their political ideas. Over the course of the last two weeks, the pair has faced off in front of workers in Macron’s hometown of Amiens and in front of the country during the live debate earlier this week.
Here are the key issues of the campaigns and the positions of each candidate.
The European Union
Marine Le Pen advocated increased sovereignty for France and for her, that may mean leaving the European Union and the euro currency. She has expressed a desire to hold a referendum on membership and floated the idea of bringing back the franc while allowing larger businesses to trade internationally in euros during the televised debate.
Emmanuel Macron is steadfastly pro-EU and has no wish to see France leave the political bloc. Instead, Macron has said he wants to force countries like Poland to take in more migrants under threat of sanctions, claiming they were not upholding the values of the union.
Radical Islamic Terrorism
For many years Marine Le Pen has been outspoken on Islamic extremism and has promised the French that she will bring it “to its knees.” Since 2015, France has been plagued by terror attacks in Paris, Nice and elsewhere. The most recent attack being the shooting of a police officer on the Champs Elysees. In the aftermath of the shooting Le Pen has pledged to incarcerate all known radical Islamists in the country and deport those who come from overseas.
Her opponent is against the idea of imprisoning radical Islamists, saying that it would harm intelligence gathering. Macron has been much more ambiguous on how he will handle the problem of terrorism and Islamic radicalisation. Saying that terrorism will be a “part of daily life,” the globalist candidate has offered few solutions on this subject.
Protecting French jobs for French workers has been at the heart of the economic side of Marine Le Pen’s campaign. Advocating “intelligent” protectionism she has promised blue-collar workers that she will give penalties for companies that try and outsource labour overseas.
A firm advocate of globalisation and free trade, Emmanuel Macron fundamentally disagrees with Le Pen, instead proposing to invest 50 billion euros while having a target to cut 60 billion in public spending.
The event which showed the most obvious contrast between the two candidates on globalisation occurred last Wednesday in Macron’s hometown of Amiens. Macron announced a visit to a Whirlpool factory where the workers were facing unemployment as the factory is scheduled to be moved to Poland next summer.
While Macron was talking behind closed doors with labour leaders, Marine Le Pen seized the opportunity to meet the workers of the plant who greeted her with cheers as she promised to save their jobs from globalisation. When Macron arrived several hours later to try and explain how globalism was an “opportunity” he was met with a hostile crowd chanting “Marine President!”
The second round of the campaign has also seen its share of scandal with a massive last minute leak of emails and documents from the Macron campaign, released Friday evening. Over 9 gigabytes of information was leaked online, and French authorities have threatened potential criminal charges on publications who attempt to publish any of the documents.
France: Presidential election (run-off), Ipsos poll:
Macron (EM-*): 63% (+1.5)
Le Pen (FN-ENF): 37% (-1.5)#JeVotePour
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) May 5, 2017
The latest polls show Macron leading Le Pen 63 percent to 37 percent though many voters may abstain as opinion polling shows less than half of the French electorate actually support Macron and many may vote against Le Pen, rather than in support of his policies.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org