Macron to face Le Pen in second round of France's presidential election

Macron to face Le Pen in second round of France's presidential election

The leader of the En Marche! movement, Emmanuel Macron, has topped the first round of the French presidential election and will face the far-right Front National’s Marine Le Pen.

Macron topped Sunday’s first round with 23.75% of votes, slightly ahead of Le Pen with 21.53%, according to final results from the interior ministry. Macron, 39, a political novice, now becomes the favourite to be elected as France’s next president. He is the youngest ever French presidential hopeful and has never run for election before.

Francois Fillon (The Republicans) is third with 19.91%, followed by Jean-Luc Melenchon (La France insoumise) with 19.64%. Socialist Benoît Hamon finished on 6.35%.

Macron and Le Pen will meet in the runoff vote, scheduled May 7.

According to the Ipsos poll for France Television, Macron would take 62% of the vote, compared with 38% for Le Pen.

Meanwhile, a Harris Interactive poll for M6 television found that 64% of those surveyed would vote for Macron while 36% were seen voting for Le Pen.

A senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Olenchenko, told Vestnik Kavkaza, commenting on the results of the first round, that at the election there were the candidates without a serious political potential, except Marine Le Pen, therefore, it was clear from the beginning that the president will be elected only in the second round.

According to him, the whole campaign was directly organized in such a way to unite everyone against Le Pen. "It was obvious that Hamon and Fillon would lose to Macron, but nevertheless they participated. Moreover, Fillon spoke in favor of Russia in order to draw back some of the votes which Le Pen could have received. Melenchon, who joined the campaign at the last moment, and whose slogans and behavior almost completely duplicate those of the Front National’s candidate, played the same role. There was an artificial dispersion of the votes that Le Pen could receive, now she got 21%, and Melenchon has 19%. That is, if it was not for Melenchon, she would have at least 40% of the votes," Olenchenko noted.

The expert noted that the results of the second round are difficult to predict: it is impossible to expect with certainty that all those who voted for Fillon and Melenchon yesterday will give their votes to Macron. "For two weeks, there will be a serious anti-lepen campaign. Fillon and Hamon already called on their supporters to vote for Macron yesterday. But if Melenchon has the courage to call on his voters to vote for Le Pen, then she may receive an equal number of votes with Macron," he declared.

The socio-economic life of France in the next five years would depend on who wins the elections, the political scientist said. "Le Pen believes that there are opportunities for improvement, she is not going to change France's socio-economic landmark, she is looking for sources, one of which is the growing economic ties with Russia. She opposes the view of Macron, the leader of the liberal social party, who wants to move to the liberal model of the economy, giving maximum rights to business and minimum - to the state and the population," the senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences concluded.

According to the deputy dean of the Faculty of Global Economics and International Affairs of the Higher School of Economics of the National Research University, Andrei Suzdaltsev, stressed that vote dispersion shows the absence of a unified national idea, which was thrown into a European-wide idea under Hollande, leading to a high fragmentation of French society.

The expert believes that the results of the second round may turn out to be unexpected for analysts and make Le Pen president - just as unexpectedly, as the UK voted for Brexit, and the Americans chose Donald Trump as President. "Usually French voters demonstrate their preferences very clearly in polls and exit polls. And now the Front National’s reputation, which has been positioned in media as a marginal structure for decades, played a role. But there are a huge mass of supporters of the Front National, who simply do not talk about it.  Yesterday, about 60% came to polling stations, and another 30% are a silent reserve, which choice can be unexpected for those who are confident in Macron's victory," the deputy dean of the Faculty of Global Economics and International Affairs of the Higher School of Economics of the National Research University said.

According to him, Macron's victory for France would mean the continuation of Hollande's policy toward strict coordination with the European Union, turning it into a second-rate power, which would be completely subordinated to the intra-union and political course of Germany, and, accordingly, the deterioration of relations with Russia. Le Pen's victory would lead to the development of Brexit, since there is almost complete certainty that if she gets support in the parliamentary elections, France will immediately leave the European zone, close the borders, abolish the Schengen, and, apparently, begin the process of withdrawing from the EU. "It is likely that France will be subject to a peculiar structure, which is formed by the US, Canada and the UK," Andrei Suzdaltsev concluded.

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