Last night (23/04) marked triumph for two political “outsiders” as centrist Emmanuel Macron and nationalist Marine Le Pen advanced to the second round of the French Presidential election. In an election that is being billed as the most significant in Europe so far this decade, no candidate came close to reaching the 50% of the vote required to win outright in the first round.
In actual fact, there was little to choose between the top 4 candidates, 3 of whom are considered to be not a part of the mainstream ‘establishment’. Here are the results in full for all eleven first round candidates, in order of percentage achieved:
- Emmanuel Macron (En Marche!) – 23.86%
- Marine Le Pen (FN) – 21.43%
- François Fillon (LR) – 19.94%
- Jean-Luc Mélenchon (FI) – 19.62%
- Benoît Hamon (PS) – 6.35%
- Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (FA) – 4.73%
- Jean Lassalle (R) – 1.21%
- Philippe Poutou (NAP) – 1.10%
- François Asselineau (PRU) – 0.92%
- Nathalie Arthaud (LO) – 0.65%
- Jacques Cheminade (S&P) – 0.18%
From these results, we can get a sense of what the key issues are for the French electorate.
Clearly, economics is a hot topic right now. The current socialist party (PS) administration have ran the French economy into the ground, with the last four years a plethora of labour disputes, and high levels of youth unemployment. Three of the four top candidates are offering radically different economic visions to what has been the consensus in France for the last 5 years. However, they are not unified in what the alternate approach should look like. The three candidates offering radical economic change are offering three very different plans; Fillon the Thactherite, Mélenchon the far-left candidate and Marine Le Pen’s brand of patriotic socialism.
Only Emmanuel Macron, who previously held the position of Finance Minister in the socialist administration, is offering continuity in the economic sense, therefore we can assume that the 3 in 4 French voters who did not vote for Macron in this French Presidential election are seeking change.
Then, of course, there is the issue of Europe. The European establishment are hailing Macron’s progression to the second round as a resounding endorsement of European Union integration, but both the far-left candidate Mélenchon and the nationalist Le Pen (who took over 40% of the vote between them) have explicitly stated their wish to withdraw France from many EU treaties, if not the entire organisation.
Those who think the second round is a foregone conclusion must accept that a large proportion of the French electorate do not buy into Macron’s obsessively Europhilic stance.
What is also interesting about this first round result is the geographic differences between the electorates of each candidate. Marine Le Pen (dark grey) found most of her core support in the east of the country, winning 8 regions in all, mostly in the north-east and south-east of the country. It is in these rural areas that tend to be socially conservative and affected most by the economic problems of the socialist government where Le Pen finds most of her support.
Contrast that with Emmanuel Macron (yellow) who won 6 of the 18 regions (including overseas territories) of France. These are mostly large population centres such as Paris, with a high percentage of migrants amongst their populations, as well as financially well-off liberals. Below is a breakdown of the French Presidential Election by regions won by the two primary candidates:
Regions won by Emmanuel Macron:
- Pays de la Loire
- Île-de-France (Paris)
- Guadeloupe (French Overseas Territory)
Regions won by Marine Le Pen:
- Centre-Val de Loire
- Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (Marseille)
As usual, the liberal centrist candidate is being propelled to victory by an awkward coalition of immigrants and wealthy, native liberals. Those in the communities that are most affected financially by globalisation and open-borders immigration policies are the ones who are suffering as a result of consensus politics, therefore they have swung more strongly towards the Front National and Marine Le Pen.
It is, of course, no mystery that rural areas also tend to be more patriotic. Those living in the midst of toxic city life are often “citizens of the world”, therefore citizens of nowhere, thus have little cause to vote for what’s in the best interest of their nation and their national comrades.
However, what is to happen in the second round of this French Presidential Election is yet to be discovered. Current polling suggests Emmanuel Macron is on course for victory, gathering about 60% of the popular vote (Ifop-Fiducial), but as we all know, polls can change very rapidly, particularly in the event of major incidents occurring at home or abroad.
For now, all we can do is wait.
Good luck, Marine Le Pen!