This year, 5 candidates are vying for the chance to lead the French nation. The first round of the presidential election will take place on 23rd April 2017. Unless one candidate wins an overwhelming majority vote, which is highly unlikely, the two leading candidates after this first round will face off on May 7th in a second contest.
Who are the candidates?
Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen has certainly made a name for herself in global politics. Daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, whose nationalistic leadership of the Front National earned him fame but ultimately an eviction from the party, new leader Marine Le Pen moves forward with the aim to soften the racist rhetoric of her father’s politics. However, she has dubbed herself “Madame Frexit” due to her desire to follow Britain out of the EU. Le Pen finished 3rd behind Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 elections, and is leading the pack with 25% of the vote in this year’s first round polls.
Former investment banker Emmanuel Macron served as economy minister under the unpopular presidency of Francois Hollande. Now leading his own, “En Marche!” (On the Move!) campaign, Macron represents a pro-NATO, pro-EU, pro-refugee political ideology in an increasingly nationalistic leaning France. Although Macron trails Le Pen in the polls, it is thought he will triumph over the Front National candidate when the vote really matters.
Hamon leads the French Socialist Party in the upcoming election. He served as Francois Hollande’s education minister in 2014 but later resigned over his conflicting socialist ideals with the then president. He goes into the 2017 election as an underdog and is currently placed 4th in the polls. This poor form could be down to his unusual policies: the robot tax intending to tax employers using automotive workers and the reduction in hours of the French working week.
This far-left candidate, who quit the socialist party in 2013, has policies most resembling Le Pen’s. His anti-globalisation and anti-austerity stance define his campaign and bring him close in thinking to the leader of the FN. Melenchon currently is polling around 10%, so his chances of progressing to the second round seem slim. There has been talk of a Hamon-Melenchon partnership, which would make this combined candidate a serious contender. However, it is thought political ambition and antagonism over the years would deem such a coalition impossible.
Francois Fillon’s centre-right campaign for Les Republicains was going well, that was until news broke that he had kept his wife on the public payroll for work she had not done. Up until about 2 weeks ago, Fillon was the favourite in the presidential race. It was thought his policies, resembling the FN candidate’s in their pro-Russia alliance tendencies whilst maintaining a pro-EU stance, would grant him universal French popularity. However, this latest knock to his reputation sees him dwindling in the polls.