It appears certain from various reports coming out of France on Sunday, that the two top vote getters in France’s national election are Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
It is expected that the two will face each other in a runoff in May to decide which of them will lead France as President.
The pollster, unidentified by Reuters, estimated that the vote differential between Mr. Macron and Ms. Le Pen, is one half a percentage point – with Macron at 23 percent and Le Pen close behind at 22.5. A third contender, conservative Francois Fillon is close behind at 20 percent. Another poll prediction showed these results:
39 year old Macron, in this election, is considered the political outsider having never run for or held public office, although he has served by appointment, as Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs and if he were to win the next round of elections, he would become France’s youngest national leader since Napoleon.
Macron, until recently, was a member of France’s Socialist Party, but has declared that he is not a member presently, but instead regards himself as an independent. He has spearheaded a political movement known as En Marche!
Curiously, Wikipedia reports that during a visit to the Vendée in August 2016, Macron stated, “Honesty compels me to say that I am not a socialist.”
The major policy differences between the two candidates have to do with Ms. Le Pen’s proposals to stage a crackdown on what some citizens regard as France’s liberalized immigration laws and her pledge to bring forth a national referendum to leave the European Union, in similar fashion to the U.K.’s recent move to do so, nicknamed ‘Brexit’.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, according to an aide, Margaritis Schinas, “congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his result in the first round and wished him all the best for the next round.”
Ms. Le Pen has made a consistent body of statements that argue for a change in the status quo concerning immigrants, such as, “If you come to our country, don’t expect to be taken care of, to be looked after, that your children will be educated without charge,” she said in a speech in Paris. And, more threateningly, “playtime is over”.
And following the infamous ‘Charlie Hebdo’ attacks, Le Pen said that if elected she would “expel foreigners who preach hatred on our soil” and bring an end to the dual-nationality status of Muslims with extremist views
At present, though opinion polls show Macron winning decisively, much can happen in the space of a month and some observers have noted that if yet another terror event takes place in France between now and the election, the numbers could shift towards Ms. Le Pen.