Presidential election to determine development and future of France

Sunday, 2022-04-24 08:16:07
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Election posters. (Photo: REUTERS)
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NDO - The “two-horse race” for the Elysee Palace in France between outgoing President Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally party is coming to an end. With very different political views, the choice of who to elect as the new President in the “final” on April 24 will determine the development direction and future of France in the coming years.

France is entering an important moment in choosing its leader for the next five years of the 2022-2027 term.

Right before the second round of the presidential elections, outgoing President Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen clashed in a TV debate to win the support of voters. In the final hours of the election, both candidates are still trying to attract voters who supported leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who was eliminated in the first round of the election.

Analysts say that Jean-Luc Melenchon's constituency will be the key to determine the outcome of the race between Macron and Le Pen in this second round.

The latest public opinion polls show that Macron still has the upper hand over Le Pen with an average of 55.83%, an increase of more than 1 percentage point compared to the results published on April 15.

Meanwhile, Opinionway and Ifop polls respectively show 56% and 55% support for President Macron, the highest levels since before the first round of the elections. However, Le Pen still has a chance to turn upstream to win, because the gap between the two candidates is not too large, causing this year's election in France to be tense until the last minute.

During the debate on April 20 as well as during the election process, two French presidential candidates expressed very different views on economic, political and foreign issues that will determine the future of France in the next term.

President Macron said he advocated carrying out major projects on education and health to improve people's lives. He vowed to turn France into an ecological powerhouse in the 21st century while the measures he proposed would help improve people's income more effectively than Le Pen's policy. Macron also pledged that, if re-elected, he will not raise taxes and will increase the retirement age by four months each year until the age of 65 in 2031 to create labour power for people. At the same time, he emphasised the achievements of the last term in reducing the unemployment rate to the lowest level in the past 13 years.

For her part, Le Pen refutes Macron's views. She defended the policy of determining the retirement age of workers at 60 years old and pledged to take measures to reduce people's living costs. She affirmed that she would do better than Macron in improving lives, increasing the value of jobs and boosting the purchasing power of French consumers.

On the issue of migration, Le Pen emphasised the need to hold a referendum on the reception of migrants and the necessity to tackle this migration situation, which she described as chaotic. Meanwhile, Macron said that a referendum would change nothing as the issue depended on cooperation with other countries.

The two candidates also have very different views on foreign policy. Macron highly valued the spirit of cooperation within the EU, which is evident in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines among European countries. Meanwhile, Le Pen affirmed that she still wants France to remain an EU member, but said that reforms are the needed in the bloc and that the European Commission should respect the sovereignty of countries. She emphasised that France is a world power, not just a European power.

This election in France not only attracted the attention of a large number of French voters but also the European and international public. Several European leaders have expressed support for Macron. In an article published in the daily Le Monde on April 21, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that France is facing a choice between a Democratic candidate and a far-right candidate. The leaders of Germany and Portugal have expressed hope that the French will choose a France that is a “beacon of democracy”.

The French press said that from 0:00 on April 23, the election campaigns of the two candidates stopped to give voters time to think and consider their choices for the future of France and themselves in the years to come.

The final procedures to ensure transparent, democratic and secure elections have been completed while the polling places are ready to welcome the first voters to vote on the morning of April 24.

France is ready for a presidential election in the context that the country faces many economic difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the regional and world order is changing drastically after the Russia-Ukraine conflict, requiring France and the EU in general to show their role in international affairs. Therefore, as the two presidential candidates have different and even opposing views on many of the above issues, the choice of French voters will be decisive to the future of France in particular and the EU in general.