Facing an immigrant crisis much more severe than our own, the French people will vote in the preliminary presidential election on April 23. The current leaders in the multi party, two tiered election system are Marine Le Pen of the National Front and Emmanuel Macron of the En Marche party.
Le Pen’s party, the National Front, is a conservative or far right political party that has advocated for a “Frexit,” a French version of last years Brexit, to take place following Le Pen’s victory. The party and its supporters are staunchly anti European Union (EU), and the growth in the formerly small party is seen as a response to the ever increasing amount of “refugees” or migrants that have entered France, and the rest of Europe, en mass ever since 2014. Le Pen’s views and rhetoric during the 2017 campaign is often compared to Donald Trump’s during the U.S. presidential campaign of last year.
Macron’s party, holding the same initials as his own name, are billed as a progressive centrist party, and will likely promise a continuation of the previous administration’s policies. Macron was previously a Minister of the Economy and could be likened to Hillary Clinton in the last U.S. presidential election.
Prior to April, there was a third leading candidate, François Fillon, but due to a scandal surrounding massive payments made to his family members he has since dropped in the polls. While there were rumors of him withdrawing his candidacy due to the scandal, he has stated that he will continue to run. It is not likely that he will win. Similar to the U.S. 2016 presidential election, the fight between reactionary right wingers looking for change and progressive centrists who desire a continuation of current policy is fierce and never ending. France is currently witnessing the negative aspects of open borders under the Schengen Agreement. Thousands of migrants and refugees have been pouring into the country, desperate for food, housing and jobs promised by Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Schengen Agreement is one of the basic tenets of the European Union: open borders for open commerce and employment between member states.
Since this agreement was, and is currently, in effect, it has allowed more than a million refugees or migrants into the EU. Germany, France and most recently Sweden have all experienced terror attacks perpetrated by islamic extremists; all of the nations have also enacted sexual interaction training for migrants and refugees due to the massive spike in sexual crimes such as rape, assault and in some cases murder.
The combined effect of increased terror and sexual crimes in Europe has made the right wing, anti EU political viewpoint increasingly appealing. Similar to the U.S. election, the current French election cycle has echoed the burning desire for change coming from the right.On April 23, the first round of the French elections will produce two candidates to participate in a run off election. The likely winners of the first round are Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. If these two candidates win, the French 2017 elections will mirror their 2016 counter part across the Atlantic.