Starting the race for the Elysee Palace

After months of campaigning, the 2022 French presidential candidates have officially entered the race to become the “owner of the Elysee Palace”. Security and economy are key themes in the election campaign, with the aim of bringing the eurozone's second-largest economy back with stability and prosperity.

The Elysee Palace. (Photo: Reuters)
The Elysee Palace. (Photo: Reuters)

The Constitutional Council, on the evening of March 7, announced a list of candidates who fully meet the conditions to run for the presidency. With 12 candidates, including four women, the race for the Elysee Palace officially began.

Candidates will also receive an advance of 200,000 EUR each to reimburse campaign costs, and they must submit a declaration of assets and sources of income, before March 11.

The declaration will officially be published by the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life, before March 26. As scheduled, the first round of the 2022 French presidential election will take place on April 10, and the second round is set for April 24. The new president will officially take office on May 13.

Among 12 candidates selected from 65 nominations, the outstanding face is incumbent President Emmanuel Macron. In his announcement to run for re-election, Macron said that over the past five years, France has faced many crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, terrorism, and war in Europe.

Although he acknowledged that during his term, he has not succeeded in everything, he pledged to make a difference if re-elected. President Macron said he would continue to cut taxes and reform pensions. He also promised to reform the education system, emphasising that teachers should be better paid and have more rights, in education activities.

Macron entered the “race” just a month before the presidential election. Opinion polls show he can win over potential opponents, including far-right politician Marine Le Pen and right-wing conservative politician Valerie Pecresse. In the first round of the French presidential election in 2017, Emmanuel Macron came first with 24.01% of the votes and Marine Le Pen followed with a support rate of 21.3%.

Security is a key theme in this year's French presidential campaign, with 52% of voters disagreeing with the assertion that “insecurity has been talked about too much in the debates". According to results from polls conducted by Ipsos Sopra-Steria, on the topic of security, the majority of French people do not really trust candidates in this field.

Opinion poll results also show that no candidate has won the trust over the majority of voters. Regarding the far-right party, Marine Le Pen of the National Rally party tops the rankings, but she only receives the confidence of 42% of French respondents. Regarding the far-left, candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon of the La France Insoumise, is the most trusted by voters, but only supported by 23% of the respondents.

This year's election comes as the French economy in 2021, achieved its highest growth rate in more than five decades, marking a faster-than-expected recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the National Institute of Statistical and Economic Studies (INSEE), France's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth reached 7% in 2021, the highest level since 1969. The French economy has recovered to pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter of 2021, when the government eased restrictions, thanks to progress in the vaccination programme.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, economic growth was boosted by increased consumer spending and corporate investment. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that the French economy had recovered spectacularly, but there were still some sectors affected by the pandemic, such as tourism and hotels. Overall, most sectors are recovering very strongly and creating jobs, bringing the unemployment rate in France to below pre-COVID-19 levels. The French Labour Minister called this “great news” because France had just gone through one of the worst crises in recent decades.

According to analysts, optimistic data on French economic growth in 2021, will likely be an important fulcrum for President Emmanuel Macron, to gain an advantage in this election. However, security will also be a top concern, in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine becoming increasingly serious, threatening regional stability. Whoever becomes the owner of the Elysee Palace in the new term, the “seat of power” will only be secure when the two key issues of economic stability and security, are well solved.