A look into the 2017 French Presidential Election
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Although the United States has another few years before its next presidential election, France has mere days.
The French 2017 Presidential Election is held in the months of April and May; it takes place in two rounds, each with separate dates: the first being on April 23 and the second being on May 7. Unless one of the presidential candidates wins a majority of the votes in the first round of voting, the election goes to the second round, where the next president of France will be determined.
The U.S. has a presidential, two-party system, consisting of the Republican Party and Democratic Party; however, France has a semi-presidential, multiparty system. Therefore, every five years, the people of France elect their president and that president later appoints a prime minister. Due to the multiparty system established in France, there are five main candidates running for the position of President of the French Republic.
BBC reported that the five candidates include: Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Benoît Hamon, Emmanuel Macron, François Fillon and Marine Le Pen. Each of the aforementioned candidates represent a different party.
This year’s election in France doesn’t only determine who the country’s next president will be, but it also determines the stance that France will take in global affairs. One majorly contested topic in the wake of Brexit is the European Union and what France’s role will- or won’t- be in the union.
Throughout her campaign, Le Pen has expressed her dislike for the European Union and has called for a French referendum, similar to Brexit, in which the nation would decide whether or not to leave the European Union. In contrast, Macron is in favor of the European Union and France remaining in the union.
According to The Economist, Macron is the leader and founder of the recently-established movement, “En Marche! (On the Move!)” While Macron has not held an elected office, he was the former economy minister. Le Pen, on the other hand, is the leader of the far-right National Front, a party that was founded by Le Pen’s father and has held anti-Semitic, extremist sentiments. Le Pen has seemingly sought to distance herself from her father and the National Front’s past anti-Semitic comments, yet she has made remarks against Muslims and Islam, most recently saying that France has two “totalitarianisms- economic globalization and Islamic fundamentalism.” “We do not want to live under the yoke of the threat of Islamic fundamentalism,” she said in February, according to the Independent.
Other candidate, Fillon, the center-right leader of the Republican Party has lost support since it was announced that he is being investigated for using public funds to pay his wife and children under the facade of allegedly fake jobs.
Hamon was the education minister under the current French President Francois Hollande’s administration, but during Hollande’s term, Hamon quit because he disagreed with one of the administration’s policies. Hollande is now the current representative of the Socialist party, and the LA Times reported that Hamon is known as the “Bernie Sanders of France.”
Like Le Pen, Mélenchon, the center-left candidate representing the Left Party, has also advocated for the withdrawal of France from the European Union. In addition, the Guardian reported that Mélenchon has expressed his desire to abolish the Fifth Republic, France’s current government system, and establish a Sixth Republic.
While opinion polls have been predicting Macron and Le Pen as being two of the main contenders in the presidential election, France will have to wait until May 7 to know for sure who will be its next president.