French Presidential election 2017: The polls opened and offered little change

The first round of the French election took place last Sunday that saw Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen, Francois Filon, and Jean-Luc Melenchon go into the election as the four clear favourites to go through to the next round with Macron and Le Pen as favourites to go through to round 2. Benoit Hamon has suffered after the Socialist Party’s significant decrease in support due to Francois Hollande’s weak tenure as president.

Briefly, the President of the French Republic candidates face a two-round election to secure a 5-year term. If a candidate fails to get over 50% of the votes after the first round, the top two face each other in a second round two weeks later.

The polls opened with little surprises

There were 11 election candidates overall but only the 4 mentioned above had a realistic chance of progressing through the next round. As it begun, the latest polls had Macron and Le Pen ahead of the pack. There was much anticipation because both favourites weren’t members of France’s two largest parties, The Republicans and the Socialist Party and the exit poll has Macron on 23% and Le Pen on 21% all but confirming that they would face each other in round 2.

The results followed the exit poll, with it predicting the outcome almost perfectly. From a 78% first round turnout, 97.43% of the votes were valid. The 4 leading candidates offered little surprises, with Macron on top with 23.86% of the votes, Le Pen following in 21.43%, Francois Fillon gaining 19.94% of the votes and the surprise candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon closely following with 19.6.2% of the votes. The turnout was slightly less than in previous elections with 79.48(2012) and 83.77 (2008) per cent.

Desire for change

The result highlights France’s desire for change after the first time in history of the 5th republic that not one of the main 2 political parties are through to the 2nd round. However, the change they have voted for won’t be the change they seek, Macron, a former banker has backing from the other candidates except Melenchon, he refused to back either and Le Pen is the leader of an openly fascist party. France flirts with fascism every so often but the country with Liberté, égalité, fraternité minted on their coins has in the past rallied to vote overwhelmingly against those ideals.

The real change candidate was there and it was in the form of Jean-Luc Melenchon, whether he had ideas that could work, he was different from the other three candidates ahead of him. Melenchon ran an impressively progressive campaign, using social media to full effect and even holding simultaneous meetings in several cities via hologram. He also ran on a left-wing platform, that included environmental protection, renegotiations of EU treaties, formation of the 6th Republic, and redistribution of wealth.

Whilst the depths of his policies may be unfeasible, he is something different and politicians like Le Pen and Macron are no different from who is in power now, in fact, Le Pen’s policies undermine France’s motto Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

If you would like to read more articles like this, please read, subscribe and share the Naturally Unnatural weekly newsletter, the latest issue is 29th April 2017 and it follows a busy week in terms of elections. If you would like to know more click this link.

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