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Tension in French Presidential Election: People Urged to Reject Le Pen in Runoff


France’s beaten political system has started to advocate against the progression of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who will compete directly against political newcomer Emmanuel Macron in the final leg of the race for the French presidency.

As Le Pen continued to commemorate the largest-ever voting count for her National Front party, current French President François Hollande proved himself to be aligned with the candidates that did not pass on to the next round, as they all voiced their support for Macron in the final phase.

Macron is a pro-European centrist who received the largest amount of votes in the first round at 24.01%. Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant, anti-EU Le Pen came in at second place with 21.30%, according to final results released by the French Interior Ministry on Monday, the day after the voting occurred.

Both have progressed to the next step in the election, which is a runoff on May 7th, after emerging at the head of a deeply divided and dissimilar pool of 11 candidates in the initial round.

The result is essentially the widespread denunciation of traditional French politics. This instance marks the first time since the establishment of the fifth French Republic in 1958 that no candidate from the two major political parties of the left and right has continued onto the second voting round of the presidential election.

Macron has passed through to the next, and final, round as the obvious leader, as the majority of the voters who initially supported the candidates that did not move on past the first round are now expected to shift their support to him. Le Pen, on the other hand, has a considerable battle to fight for the presidency.

The French stock markets rose on Monday morning, as the euro surged to highest it has been since last November against the dollar as investors wagered against the odds of Le Pen emerging victorious.

There was also a sense of relief in Europe due to such. Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, pronounced Macron a “patriot.”

The chief of staff for German Chancellor Angela Merkel opined that this result proved that France and Europe could “win together,” indicating that this is because “The center is stronger than the populists think.”

Hollande, whose ratings have been in the not been too favorable over the last several years, revealed on Monday he would vote for Macron. He continued on to justify that Macron “will allow all the French to come together, to rally around in this most precarious difficult moment of the history of France.”

He further explained his support of the candidate in asserting that voting for Macron would denote unity in the nation and a recognition of France’s global position and its function in Europe. However, according to Hollande, a vote for Le Pen would be a “risk.”

François Fillon, the most popular Republican candidate whose campaign sank following corruption accusations, rapidly accepted his defeat and moved to publically endorse Macron.

“I promise you, extremism can only bring unhappiness and division to France,” he maintained, defining the National Front as a party of “violence” and “intolerance.”

“We have to choose what is preferable for our country, and I am not going to rejoice. Abstention is not in my genes, especially when an extremist party is close to power,” he stated. “There is no other choice but to vote against the far right.”

Fillon reasoned that Le Pen’s intended economic and social policies would lead France to bankruptcy, especially if the nation changed its currency from the euro, as the far-right leader has threatened to do upon taking France out of the EU.

The Socialist Party’s candidate, Benoit Hamon, also cautioned against a Le Pen triumph. “I appeal to you in the strongest terms to beat the National Front by voting for Emmanuel Macron, even though he is not part of the Left,” Hamon pleaded to the public on Twitter.

Hamon received only 6.4% of the vote, which is a tragic representation for the Socialist Party, whose candidate Hollande won the 2012 presidency but whose popularity has suffered hard blows throughout his term.

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also turned to Twitter to publicize his support for Macron, urging voters to back him in the second round “to combat the National Front’s disastrous project to take France backward and to divide the French people.”

Contrastingly, far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has declined to manifest his support for one of the two candidates, critiquing both for having “no stance on the environment or the future of civilization, and who both challenge the welfare and social accord of the country.”

French voters undoubtedly proved on Sunday that they were prepared for change. This is concretely proven in that neither candidate chosen to progress is from the establishment parties, which have governed the country for decades.

In the following two weeks, Macron will further develop his pro-European, centrist message while Le Pen has made it evident that she intends to strengthen the nationalist, anti-Islamist rhetoric that boosted her into the second round of voting.

Le Pen, 48, informed her supporters that her opening move as president would be to enact a temporary prohibition of legal immigration to the nation. She has also promised to remove France from the EU.

“The French people must seize this opportunity, because the enormous challenge of this election is the wild globalization that puts our civilization at risk,” Le Pen asserted at Henin-Beaumont, a National Front stronghold in the north of France.

“Either we continue to disintegrate without any borders, without any controls, unfair international competition, mass immigration and the free circulation of terrorists, or you choose France with borders,” she continued.

Le Pen turned to the media of Twitter on Monday to note that she is taking a leave of absence as leader of the National Front party with the intention of focusing on the election campaign. “I am nothing other than a candidate for the French presidency,” she declared.

39-year-old Macron, leader of the “En Marche!” party which garnered over 200,000 members since September, has displayed wariness of nationalism and drawn backing from both the left and right due to his more moderate stance, vowing to stimulate the economy and better security.

“I will be the president of the patriots against the threat of the nationalists. There is only one France, France of the patriots in a protective Europe. The fight to be trustworthy to run our country starts tonight and we will win it,” he stated on Sunday night.

Le Pen’s progression to the 2nd round is not without unheard of in her family—her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, progressed to a runoff against Jacques Chirac in 2002. However, Le Pen only suffered a bitter loss with the active manifestations of anti-extremist voters against the National Front frontrunner.

Although Le Pen’s progression in 2nd place does not by any means guarantee a victory for the National Front, supporters congregated by the National Front’s headquarters to commemorate the promising outcome with songs and dancing that lasted throughout the night as they waved Le Pen flags.

“Immigrants, terrorism, killing police officers—I can’t bear it. I don’t want to see that kind of thing anymore. I want to live in a free country,” a French supported said in a statement to CNN as she commemorated the progress of Le Pen.

Similarly, there was an immense outcry of joy at Macron’s headquarters right as the results were announced; warmly welcomed by his supporters as they waved the French Tricolor flag, as well as those of the EU.

27-year-old Parisian supporter of Macron informed CNN on Monday that: “I think it’s a big great message for Europe, this is a great message for all around the world that populists are not winning.”

These results bear an eerily degree of similarity to others, like the British vote to leave the European Union and the US election of Donald Trump, where voters have opted to discard the power of the traditional elites.

Fillon was viewed as the favorite for the presidency early on, but his campaign dwindled in popularity after accusations that he paid his wife and children for work they have done. He, however, negates any wrongdoing on his part.

Far-left agitator Mélenchon, whose popularity escalated over the course of the last weeks of the presidential race following notable participations in the television debates, has refused to concede defeat as of now but has stated he would acknowledge the final results when they were released.

“We do not recognize the score announced on the basis of opinion polls,” Mélechon asserted on Facebook. He continued further to say that, “The results of the larger towns and cities are not yet known,” and advocated for “restraint” as he advised commentators to “be cautious.”

Fillon came in third with 20.01% of the votes and Melénchon came in closely after with 19.58%.

Featured Image via Wikimedia.

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