French election showdown

The French election is seeing a lot of coverage is western news outlets lately, so I’d like to talk about France’s most infamous party

The+candidates+originally+vying+for+the+presidency.
The candidates originally vying for the presidency.

The candidates originally vying for the presidency.

The candidates originally vying for the presidency.

Evan Rocha, Staff Writer

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The upcoming French election will show the final results of a trend that has been steadily increasing in Europe for the past two years. Nationalist and anti-EU parties have been on the rise in Europe, with sizable numbers in the parliaments of Hungary, Austria, Italy, Greece, and most recently the Netherlands. Other parties in Germany, Sweden, the UK and now France have also gained a lot of political traction in recent months. These parties for the most part seek exit of their countries from the EU in a similar vein to the UK’s path over the last year. They see the EU as an anti-Democratic union (which does have some merit) and that the exit of their respective countries will bring not only political freedom, but economic growth at that. These parties started off small, but in almost every country they exist in they’ve grown massively just over the past year.

Now that same type of activity is coming to France. The National Front is a nationalist and hard Eurosceptic (the term for a party with strong anti-EU ties) party with hard views against immigration and for protectionist economic policy. They’re also trailing just behind the current leading party, En Marche. This is a party who currently has just one member in the 577-member National Assembly. Their progress is astounding.

Now, European political parties are very different from the parties we have in America. Despite the National Front’s success, they aren’t predicted to get much more than 25% of the vote. In European countries, there are a huge amount of parties, with many only getting one or two seats. There are currently seven parties in the National Assembly of France right now. The National Front will never get to a majority in the French parliament in this election (if ever). It just doesn’t happen. However, going from dead last in the parliament to potentially the largest party among many is still a huge change.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, is a political dynamo. She’s been at the forefront of European news on the French election, much more than the other candidates. She’s very similar to Donald Trump in that respect. Because of this, her popularity only grows as more and more outlets report almost exclusively on her, regardless of how positive or negative said coverage is.

The National Front is not exclusively a right-wing party, despite western media coverage of it as so. France is a very left-wing country, and what they would call right-wing we in the US would call a pretty left-leaning Democrat. The National Front is considered right-wing because there are literally Communist parties in the French parliament, and relative to them they are very right-wing.

All things said, it’s really a mystery who will win the election starting April 23 and lasting until May 7. I can’t really call anything anymore, especially since Donald Trump became president and the UK voted for Brexit. It can be safely assumed, however, that even if Le Pen’s party doesn’t win a majority, they will still become a major player in French politics.

Update: As of 24 April, the two leading candidates have been determined to be Emmanuel Macron, leader of the En Marche! Party with 24.01% of the vote, and in second place Marine Le Pen’s FN with 21.30% of the vote. A runoff election will be held on the 7th of May to determine who will win the presidential race. Results were surprising, with the Socialist Party (a long-time major party in French politics) barely squeaking out a few districts (mostly from voters in and around Paris); Macron led in much of western and central France, and Le Pen took large swaths of northern and southern France, including the cities of Nice and Calais, both of which have been in the news spotlight for a while from their association with refugees coming to those cities.

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