On April 10, after weeks of waiting and speculating, the two winners of the first round of the French presidential elections were announced: Emmanuel Macron (candidate for “La République En Marche!” (The Republic on the Move!), centrist) and Marine Le Pen (“Rassemblement National” (National Rally), far-right). These two candidates will be facing off on April 24 to determine the next French president. In this first round, incumbent President Macron won 27.6% of the vote, while Le Pen won 23%. Right behind them comes Jean-Luc Mélenchon (far-left candidate), with 22.2%. Meanwhile, Eric Zemmour, who just created his own far-right political party, comes in fourth with 7.2%. Two candidates, leaders of the traditional right and left-wing parties, did not perform as well as expected. Since the creation of the French Fifth Republic (1958), either Valérie Pécresse or Anne Hidalgo made it to the second round, if not both. This tradition stopped in the last election (2017), and continued this year, with Pécresse only winning 4.8% of the votes, and Hidalgo winning 1.7%. These numbers show a trend of increasing support for newer or more extremist parties in France. Furthermore, it symbolizes the French people’s disillusionment towards the “traditional” politicians; a feeling that pushes them to turn to “outsiders.”
Since the results have been revealed, candidates Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Valérie Pécresse, Anne Hidalgo, Fabien Roussel, Yannick Jadot, and Philippe Poutou have all asked their electorate to vote for Macron in the second round. These candidates, ranging from the center-right to the far-left, have effectively unified to prevent far-right LePen from coming to power.
No matter who wins on April 24, France’s semi-presidential system makes it so presidents do not automatically have complete control of the government once elected. In order to achieve that, this year’s candidates would need their party to win the parliamentary elections, which will take place on June 12. Failing to do so would result in “cohabitation,” or a prime minister from one party and a president from another. This situation could have far-reaching effects, as governmental policies are often negotiated into compromise.
Featured image by: POLITICO.