The French elections will be one more test for the European Union.
France has its turn, finally. The EU is now being subjected to another test of alliance or belligerence by the French elections
In this round, it is likely that France will have to witness the strongest of the lot – Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. Since smaller parties call their voters to support their favourite in the second round, who may or may not willingly support, uncertainty may be the rim of the glass for the election-season. The new President of France is at the end of the long path of selection.
The two candidates seem almost diametrically opposite this time. Emmanuel Macron, a pro-European centrist candidate, stands for the innovation-friendly form of progressive politics quite opposite to Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the National Front, who stands for the overhaul of the European Union with the expunging of the common currency and the border-free area, so that the EU remains a kind of loose cooperation. She is even prepared to call a referendum, modeled on the UK. However, Le Pen is nevertheless committed to reducing taxes and increase welfare, but is also campaigning strong on greater restrictions on immigrants. It might be even naively concluded that her program may be moving towards social justice, rather than towards right-wing nationalism.
It is interesting to see similarities in candidates across economies. Macron is often compared with Barack Obama, while Marine Le Pen supports Trump, whom sees as a salvation in the battle against globalization. These similarities call for closer inspection, as well as apprehension, to see where they would lead France if one wins the election.
The build-up to the election points out logical consequences. Although Macron could gather all parties that do not support the conservative populist Eurosceptic nationalism, if these two candidates face off in the second round, the far-right leaders, united under the slogan “Freedom for Europe”, would be stronger. It is also for us to understand that the threat of the right-wing parties across the EU has existed for a long time. What would happen if they prevail, is evident, and definitely is not in favor of the EU. If France follows the steps of Britain, the next to emulate would be Germany and Italy, and nothing may be the same anymore. Although the EU brings many advantages to all, especially the free trade zone, citizens of financially strong countries are definitely tired of helping smaller and weaker members of the EU and these countries are, on the other hand, exposed to too much pressure to follow the countries too strong for them. The flame was slowly smouldering for a long time, but the spark that led to the explosion was definitely an enormous influx of asylum seekers. This was the final straw; the rapid strength of the right-wing politics in all of the EU has been the consequence. Their strength increased with the new American President saying that others should follow the example of the UK, instead of being “a vehicle for Germany”.
Therefore, the thought of Marine Le Pen, daughter of the founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, standing at France’s forefront, cannot be excluded. For now, we may obviate the concern about the EU remaining together and united or falling apart. But with almost daily frictions on the political-economic arena and growing Eurosceptic anti-immigration political parties, it is difficult not to ponder about a disunited Europe, which would have even worse consequences. The coming times are definitely difficult ones.