Sunday, February 5

Elections in France: who’s who in the race to topple Macron?


The list of people hoping to create unrest and topple Emmanuel Macron is growing rapidly with only four months to go before France’s presidential election.

Macron has not yet announced that he will run for a second term, but is expected to do so. His main rival within the centrist La Republique en Marche party was thought to be former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, but the mayor of Le Havre has unequivocally refused to throw his hat into the ring.

For now, all the polls point to a Macron victory, but the French presidential elections are notoriously unpredictable. Macron himself is the perfect example of launching a political movement just months before the 2017 elections that he won.

Key issues for the elections include work and the cost of living, a debate sparked by the 2018 Gilets Jaunes protests, as well as the environment, immigration and security.

Euronews takes a closer look at those vying to challenge Macron.

Marine Le Pen – National Meeting

Seen as Macron’s main rival and projected to join him in the second round of the plebiscite is Marine Le Pen.

The 53-year-old far-right leader sticks to her favorite themes, namely immigration and security.

Among the measures he has outlined is the end of naturalization by marriage and automatic citizenship for people born on French soil.

It also plans to restrict access to family allowances to French exclusively with a five-year waiting period for foreigners.

He also wants to abolish subsidies for “intermittent energy”, including wind and photovoltaic energy.

However, he has abandoned the idea of ​​removing France from the European Union, the Schengen area or the euro.

Le Pen has tried to soften the image of his party since he replaced his father, who was sentenced multiple times for his anti-Semitic remarks. This has made the party more conventional, but she now he runs the risk of being flanked on the right by a new personality, Eric Zemmour.

Your main challenge will be building your credibility on issues other than immigration and security. Her lack of economic knowledge and experience led Macron to gut her during a televised debate in 2017.

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Jean-Luc Mélenchon – La France Insoumise

The 70-year-old left-wing populist leader came fourth in the last presidential election, with almost 20% of the votes in the first round. Right now, polls attribute around 10% of the vote to him.

So far, his proposals have been solidly on social issues and the cost of living.

For example, it has announced that it plans to create a “social emergency law” that would allow freezing the price of basic necessities, including fuel, gas, electricity and some food.

He also wants to increase the monthly minimum wage from € 1,258 net currently to € 1,400 net.

Mélenchon is a controversial figure. He was given a three-month conditional prison term and a € 8,000 fine in December 2019 for intimidating officials who were conducting a search at his office in an investigation into funding irregularities.

Anne Hidalgo – Socialist Party

The 62-year-old is the current mayor of Paris, after winning a second term in 2020.

He has called for the education and health systems to be “rebuilt” and has said that “the issue of work must once again become a central issue.”

Like Melenchon, he plans to raise wages. She has said that one of her first acts as president would be to call negotiations with the unions “so that the French can once again be in a position where they can live with dignity from their work.”

He is also positioning himself as an environmentalist. Among the measures it has implemented in the French capital are restrictions on car traffic in parts of the city and more bike lanes. His new mandate foresees the planting of 170,000 trees, the energy renovation of buildings and the end of plastic in school canteens.

She faces two great challenges. The first is that it is seen as a local politics, tied to Paris. The second is that she is the candidate of a reeling party. The candidate of the Socialists in 2017 obtained only 6.2% of the votes, a record low for the party. This was followed by heavy defeats in the European legislative and parliamentary elections.

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Polls currently attribute between 4 and 7% of the votes to him.

Yannick Jadot – Green Party

Jadot, 54, is a MEP who has already won the Green Party’s candidacy for the 2017 presidential elections, just to support the socialist candidate.

This time, such an alliance seems unlikely despite the two left-wing parties joining forces to win mayoral elections in Paris and Marseille.

His program includes commitments to end intensive livestock farming and weaken lobbies, which he said “swallow subsidies and public policies so that climate, health, environment and social justice finally take priority.”

“Each euro of public money will be conditioned to the protection of the environment. Not a single euro for Total until Total breaks with its logic of always looking for more oil and more gas on the ground,” he said.

He also plans to restore a wealth tax and further tax financial assets that invest in fossil fuels.

Finally, he has presented a plan to inject 50 billion euros a year over the five-year term to “repair” the country and “rebuild” the economy. The funds would be used for infrastructure, housing and transportation projects and would help the economy transition to “a virtuous cycle of investment and responsible consumption.”

Polls give you between 6 and 9% of the votes.

Valérie Pécresse – The Republicans

Valérie Pécresse was chosen by members of the right-wing Les Républicains party to be her first candidate in the French presidential elections.

The head of the populous Ile-De-France region, in which Paris is located, is also a two-time Minister of Higher Education and the Budget.

He has pledged to review plans to shut down nuclear reactors, admitting, however, that nuclear power will not be enough and that renewables need to be boosted. Other proposals include a carbon tax at the borders of Europe and a “European preference in public procurement”.

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He also called for increased wages and reforms of the unemployment and pension systems and promised to reduce public debt.

To win the nomination, Pécresse beat out several high-profile candidates from his party, including Eric Ciotti, a hardline MP from Nice; Xavier Bertrand, President of the Hauts-De-France region; Michel Barnier, former EU Brexit negotiator; and Philippe Juvin, a mayor who gained prominence amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eric Zemmour – Reconquest

Controversial columnist, television commentator and author Eric Zemmour has also entered the fray for the French presidency.

Zemmour, 63, is famous for his provocations against Islam, immigration and women who have seen him sued multiple times. He was convicted of provoking racial discrimination in 2011 and provoking hatred towards Muslims in 2018.

He argues that France is in decline both geopolitically and economically, which he attributes to immigration and the “Islamization” and “feminization” of society.

The television expert created a media frenzy in France, prompting France’s media regulator to rule that he should be viewed as a politician, not a journalist, and that his airtime should be subject to limitations..

Zemmour’s bet on the Elysee could hurt Marine Le Pen, as the two have similar positions. Several prominent figures in her party have already called for Zemmour to join her.

It could also lead the Les Republicains candidate to veer to the right on certain issues, such as immigration and security, to stem a possible exodus of votes.

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