Thursday, December 2

French presidential elections: who’s who in the race to replace Macron?

The list of people hoping to create an upset and topple Emmanuel Macron is growing rapidly six months into France’s presidential elections.

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 Havre has unequivocally refused to throw his hat into the ring.

Polls, for now, point to a Macron victory, but the French presidential election is 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 competing 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 it 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 and denial 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 to build 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.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon – La France Insoumise

The 70-year-old left-wing populist leader ranked fourth in the last presidential election, with almost 20% of the first round votes. Right now, polls attribute about 10% of the votes 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 euros net currently to 1,400 euros net.

Mélenchon is a controversial figure. He was sentenced to 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 “rebuilding” of the education and health systems 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 “to put the French back 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 faltering 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.

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 around, 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 finally the climate, health, environment and social justice 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 go to infrastructure, housing and transportation projects and help the economy transition to “a virtuous circle of investment and responsible consumption.”

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

the Republicains

The main right-wing party has yet to select its candidate. Members of Les Republicains (LR) will vote for their candidate in early December.

The three favorites competing for the ticket are Xavier Bertrand, Valérie Pécresse and Michel Barnier.

Xavier Bertrand

Bertrand, 56, is president of the Hauts-De-France region. Former Minister of Health and then Labor, he is currently the one who must beat his fellow candidates for the presidency of LR.

He has presented himself as “the one who wants to make our ideas (of the right) triumph and reconcile the French”, and has developed his program of “three priority areas”: “authority, work and territories”.

Elements of his program that he has already outlined include a large “social conference” to negotiate wages, a review of the goal of reducing the share of nuclear energy in the country’s energy mix to 50%, and a ban on Salafism.

Valerie Pécresse

The head of the populous Ile-De-France region, in which Paris is located, has also twice been Minister of Higher Education and 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”.

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

Michel barnier

Yes got the ticket, Barnier, 70, I would be the oldest person in the race. Like his two LR colleagues, he has also been a minister twice (Agriculture and European Affairs), but a large part of his career was developed on the European stage. He was a two-time EU commissioner, but is perhaps better known now as “Mr. Brexit”, after leading the bloc’s divorce negotiations with the UK.

“I want to be the president of the reconciliation of the French,” he said.

His proposals include salary increases for teachers and healthcare workers, lower social benefit rates for employers and lower taxes on production, as well as a referendum on immigration. It has also challenged the “overzealousness” of the European Court of Justice.

One of his main challenges, should he be chosen to carry the party’s nomination, will be to differentiate himself from the incumbent Macron, with whom he shares many positions.

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