Round Two Rematch
French President Emanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will square off in round two of national elections on April 24.
Round two happens when no candidate gets over 50% in round one which was held this weekend.
With partial results putting Macron in first place ahead of Le Pen after Sunday's first-round voting, other major candidates admitted defeat. Except for another far-right candidate, Eric Zemmour, they all urged voters to block the far-right in two weeks' time.
Ifop pollsters predicted a very tight runoff, with 51% for Macron and 49% for Le Pen. The gap is so tight that victory either way is within the margin of error.
"Nothing is decided!," Macron told supporters, urging all voters to rally behind him on April 24th to stop the far-right from ruling the European Union's second-largest economy.
While Le Pen has ditched past ambitions for a "Frexit" or to haul France out of the euro zone's single currency, she envisages the EU as a mere alliance of sovereign states.
Conservative candidate Valerie Pecresse warned of "disastrous consequences" if Macron lost, while the Socialists' Anne Hidalgo urged supporters to vote for him "so that France does not fall into hatred."
"Not one vote for Le Pen!" added hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who, according to the estimates, placed third with around 20% of the votes.
51 Percent to 49 Percent?!
I struggle to see why the runoff will be that close given Macron is viewed as center Left while Le Pen is viewed as extreme Right.
The third place candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, is already backing Macron and so is conservative candidate Valerie Pecresse from the right.
"Emmanuel Macron played with fire," Pecresse told supporters.
On the other side, Zemmour acknowledged disagreements with Le Pen, but said Macron was a worse choice.
Zemmour only received 7 percent of the vote so an endorsement from him would not seen to matter much.
What About Frexit?
Frexit is not as dead as Reuters claims. Eurointelligence discusses Frexit in Disguise.
Marine Le Pen may come across more rounded and motherly, with a claim to guide her country through these times of heightened uncertainty. She changed her way of talking, looks presidential, and mingles with the people. People do not find the idea of a president Le Pen so frightening any more.
But a closer look at her programme reveals that even if she stays away from provocative language, the substance of her nationalistic protectionism just reappears under a new header. When she talks about preventing fraud, this turns out to be Frexit in disguise. Les Echos was digging in her programme to find that this fraud prevention comes with an increase of border controls. In fact, Le Pen plans to hire 20,000 customs officers to get back to the level of 1990, the times from before the Maastricht Treaty.
So all these agents she plans to hire are to be placed at the borders with Italy and Germany to control merchandise coming into France. Because, as her campaign booklet explains, there is the need for a re-establishment of French borders to counter the serious shortcomings in the mechanisms established by the EU.
This would question the foundations of the European single market, established in 1993. She may not call this Frexit, but this is one way of pushing for it. Fraud is now the new code word to divide the good and the bad, meaning France and the EU, allowing French companies to enjoy the benefits of the single market without granting the same to those coming into France.
By invoking the spectre of fraud coming from the EU, Le Pen is still peddling narratives to please core voters from the far-right. This is a tale of the wolf in sheep's clothing.
France 24 Video in English
Replay of 2017?
Macron vs Le Pen was a blowout last time. This rates to be much closer.
The 2017 election was 66% Macron to 34% for Le Pen. I suspect something closer, say 55% for Macron is more likely.
However, strange things can happen in elections especially if disenfranchised voters sit things out or Macron says something widely disliked in the meantime.
Regardless of who wins, the French parliament is likely to splinter making legislative agenda difficult.
This post originated at MishTalk.Com.
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