French President Macron Faces Far-Right Le Pen In Second Election Round
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
PARIS (Worthy News) – French President Emmanuel Macron narrowly won the first round of the French election, but he faced a rocky road ahead as far-right rival Marine Le Pen will fight him for the presidency for a second time.
Analysts told Worthy News that a “complete reconfiguration of French politics” could impact the nation’s relationship with the European Union.
The latest official figures showed Macron ahead of Le Pen with a narrow 5 percent difference. Analyst Tara Varma, Paris head and senior policy fellow at the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), warned of turbulent political weeks ahead.
“The two weeks of campaign ahead will be extremely tough: they will have to make up for the lack of campaign we experienced until now,” she told Worthy News.
“Two programmatic platforms will be presented with very different outlooks on European and foreign policy. [They are having] subsequent different consequences for European sovereignty, NATO [military alliance] membership and migration,” Varma added.
Not to be outdone by his far-right rival, Macron’s speech doubled down on several themes, including fighting Islamic separatism. He also pledged to focus on “an independent and strong France” when re-elected. Macron spoke of the need to improve science, technology, the military, and agriculture.
He stressed that he would seek a more just France with a functioning welfare state and better education, pensions, health care, and hospitals.
Climate change and ecological planning are other issues on his extended political agenda.
Macron seeks “a country believing in science and reason, fully part of Europe, which he repeated four times,” noted Varma, the analyst.
He seeks “a country strong in Europe and believing in an alliance of democracies, saying no to populists and xenophobes, true humanism, and the spirit of Enlightenment. It was all-encompassing [but it] will need to be specified in the days to come,” Varma stressed.
Le Pen said Sunday that the choice on April 24 would be one for “society and civilization.”
She claimed she had high ambitions for “democracy, the economy, and ecology, social issues such as purchasing power, health, housing.” Le Pen, who has been criticized for her party’s perceived anti-foreigners rhetoric, stressed she wanted to unite the French population around “a popular and national project and a community of destiny.”
Le Pen even reached out to the left-leaning side of the electorate, noted Varma. “She will challenge Macron on these issues that have proven complicated for him, especially during the Gilets Jaunes movement,” Varma added, referring to massive protests.
She also noted humiliating eliminations from France’s presidential vote on Sunday. The historic right-wing Republicans party joins the Socialists in facing a moment of truth—rebuild a viable political project or risk consignment to the history books.
Republicans candidate Valerie Pecresse finished in fifth place after failing to woo back voters who turned to centrist Macron or the far right of Le Pen.
The blow is devastating for the Republicans party as it traces its roots to Charles de Gaulle, the World War II Resistance hero who built the foundations of the all-powerful French presidency.
It comes when France is trying to play a role in ending the Russian invasion of Ukraine amid mounting concerns the war could spread to other European nations.
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