French Election 2017 International 

Tough choice between nationalism and independent centrism as France votes

France heads to the polls on Sunday for what will be the second and final round of the 2017 presidential election.

The candidates, Emmanuel Macron of the En Marche! party and Marine Le Pen of the National Front are going head-to-head for the final day of a very cut-throat campaign.

During the live televised debate on Wednesday night, Le Pen and Macron issued several vicious attacks against each other.

Le Pen then went on to accuse Macron of having an offshore account in the Bahamas.

However, this is not the first time the nationalist candidate has attempted to paint the En Marche candidate as an elitist.

Le Pen has successfully campaigned on a nationalist platform, calling for austere restrictions of migrants and immigrants entering the country, advocating for France’s exit from the EU and NATO, and further encouraging a closer relationship with Russia.

The far right wing candidate has delivered her populist message at the right time while France continues to struggle through a relatively battered economy for the French working class.

Macron, who made it through to the second round after declaring an independent run, has encouraged a more globalized vision, promising more unity with other European nations.

The publicly-identified centrist has come under fire by his opponent for being less in touch with the rural and working class of France.

If Le Pen wins?

The future of France under the leadership of Marine Le Pen appears as a bleak but possible reality for the left.

A nation that has been enormously pro-globalization over the past decade could experience an isolationist state with Le Pen as president.

A Le Pen win would also mark a second global victory for the populist-nationalist right, who just over a year ago, basked in excitement at the possibility of a Trump presidency.

While just recently the Dutch rejected populism in their presidential election, where incumbent Prime Minister, Mark Rutte was reelected, defeating his far-right wing opponent, Geert Wilders in March, a Le Pen presidency may also mark a turning point for Europe, encouraging other nations to follow her path of anti-immigration during a time of severe global terror.

This could include Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is up for reelection in September and faces ruthless backlash for her pro-migrant policy.

But a President Macron?

While maintaining a liberal-centrist ideology, Macron has risen through the ranks of the French political environment, having made an independent bid for the presidency and defeating the traditional establishment candidates.

Macron’s presidency would envision a continuity of the Obama-Merkel-Cameron era of globalization.

While in a time of radical populism and unrest, Macron would have the incredibly challenging task of keeping Europe united.

However, due to the growing unpopularity of multilateral collaboration, Macron would need to market the EU and NATO with a new tone and perspective to encourage a unity among other European nations and the world.

The outcome?

Regardless of who is declared the winner on Sunday night, the next president of France will most certainly benchmark a new era of European politics.

The battle between left and right has fallen away. It is now a bid between independent liberal-centrism and populist nationalism.

France will decide which is the better choice and the world will be watching.




© 2017 State of the Nation. All Rights Reserved.

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