WHY THIS FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IS HISTORIC

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

In an election, where the two mainstream French political parties, the centre-left Socialist Party (PS), with its government in Paris under French president Francois Hollande, and the centre-right Republicans (LR), have failed to reach the final round of the presidential polls, history will be written on May 7 when France will vote to choose between two top candidates from the first round of elections held on April 23.

Emmanuel Macron won the first round with a narrow margin. He secured 23.8 per cent votes while his rival, Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National (FN) party, came a close second with 21.5 per cent votes. The polls go to the second and run-off round when no candidate is able to secure 50 per cent of the votes in the first round, something that has never happened.

France that is known for its liberal values, politics and social life, will either have its youngest president in Emmanuel Macron who is 39 and who formed his political party, En Marche (EM), that translates to ‘on the move’, just a year ago. In fact, according to an analysis by The Economist, it would be the first time in the history of the major western economies, i.e., United States, Germany, Britain and France, that a leader younger than the median age of the country has been elected, if Macron, indeed, emerges as the winner. Macron is two years younger than the median  age in France.

Or France will have a far-right candidate in Marine Le Pen, 48, in the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the French president, who will take France out of the European Union and who has vowed to upturn the liberal credentials of France by adopting tough anti-globalization, anti-immigration, anti-Euro measures and anti-Islamism measures.

She, in fact, sees globalization and Islamism as major threats against France. She finds the two helping each other and conspiring to bring France down. Her election manifesto has promised to curb immigration, even the legal one, and says the citizenship can only be “inherited or merited”. She keeps the Brexit in the hallowed halls of the fall of the Berlin Wall. She also describes Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election as an importation building block toward making a new world.

For the moment, Macron looks set to win the election on May 7. He has won the televised debated between him and Marine Le Pen, held on May 3, comfortably, with 63% viewers finding him more convincing. And for the final rounds, all pre-poll surveys have given him a 60-40 lead over Le Pen.

©SantoshChaubey

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