On April 23, France had its first round of voting for presidential election and the nominees will be voting again May 3.
Who are the candidates?
Marine Le Pen, head of the National Front party. She is the daughter of Jean-Marine Le Pen who was the original head of the National Front party, known for his radical, fascist and moderately anti-Semitic views. Marine kicked her father out of the party and has been working to move the National Front party to a more moderate position, however she is still highly problematic. She is a far-right populist and her policies include: increasing tax on foreign workers, cutting immigration, leaving the EU as well as the return of the French Franc.
“One of the frustrating things about watching this unfold from America is this feels a little like Déjà vu. A potentially destabilizing populist campaigning on anti-immigration rhetoric who rages against the elites despite having powerful father and inherited wealth.” --- John Oliver on Marine Le Pen
Manuel Macron, if he wins he will be the youngest French president in history. The only thing against him is the scandal of him marrying his high school teacher. Macron, political leader of the party En Marche!, socialist and his policies include relaxing labor laws, cutting business taxes as well as decrease public spending. In the first round of voting Macron had a noticeable lead to Le Pen but the gap between the two candidates is closing.
Now there is a very real worry of voter abstention as the gap between Le Pen and Macron closes. People who did not see their candidate make it to the final round refraining to vote in protest and increasing the potential that Le Pen can win. All the experts say there is no way she can win, but they also said that about a certain political Sunny D we all know.
"Turnout is important as Le Pen's best bet to win the election is for voters who did not support Macron in the first round to stay home on Election Day," told Antonio Barroso, director at Teneo Intelligence, to CNBC.
Around the world we are seeing a swing in far-right nationalist movements, just recently there was the constitutional referendum in Turkey that was passed which will get rid of the position of Prime Minister and make the president head of the government and the power to appoint all cabinet members and two thirds of the country’s senior judges. All of this will give the President of Turkey, which was before, a largely ceremonial role, immense power.
As Americans, we can get caught up in our own political bubble, but these are crucial events that we need to be paying attention to. Britain and France were two very large financial sources for the EU and without them the EU’s economy will collapse. We could very well see the end of the EU in our life time if Marine Le Pen wins the French Presidential election and moves for a French Brexit.