Traditional parties shattered as centrist Macron and far right Le Pen enter French election runoff

24/04/2017
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EU remains central issue as far right party contests for French Presidency

THE TRADITIONAL parties of French democracy have been swept aside, as the relative newcomer Emmanuel Macron, and the far right leader Marine Le Pen go through to the second round of the French election.

Macron won 23.8 per cent and Le Pen 21.5 per cent.

The representative of the centre right Republican party, Francois Fillon, came in third at 19.9 per cent of the vote, while the candidate of the French socialist party, Benoit Hammon attracted just 6.4 per cent, coming fifth.

In another sign of the intense polarisation, the hard left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon won 19.6 per cent, coming just behind Francois Fillon – a major growth in support for the radical left in France.

In a speech confirming his position in the second round, Macron said: “I hope that in a fortnight I will become your president. I want to become the president of all the people of France – the president of the patriots in the face of the threat from the nationalists.”

In another sign of the intense polarisation, the hard left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon won 19.6 per cent, a major growth in support for the radical left in France.

Macron claims to appeal beyond left and right, supports the EU and cuts to the public sector, including around 70,000 public sector jobs.

Le Pen, whose policies include exit from the Euro currency and major restrictions on the civil liberties of religious minorities in France, and the stripping of basic health care from immigrants and refugees.

She called for all “true patriots” to rally to her in the second round of voting on 7 May.

Fillon and Hammon have called on supporters to back Macron, fuelling speculation that Macron is in a very strong position to win the presidency.

The Front National’s vote has risen steadily from 4.4 million in 1988 to 7.7 million in 2017.

Which ever party wins could face an increasingly restive French population. Thousands marched against both candidates last night (Sunday 23 April), as disputes over living standards and working conditions continue to shake the country with strikes, demonstrations and rioting.

The election is being billed as one of several this year that will condition the future of an EU rocked by Brexit and public dissatisfaction. The UK will hold a General Election on 8 June.

Picture courtesy of Mutualité Française

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