Voilà! France officially has its two final candidates for the 2017 presidential election. On May 7th, Front National leader Marine Le Pen and left-wing candidate Emmanuel Macron will face off to see who will come the next president of France.
Mid-afternoon on Sunday, it became increasingly clear that Le Pen and Macron would come out on top, although France remained vigilant to see by what margin. For most of the day, the candidates were neck and neck, both hovering around 21%. With 97% of votes now recorded, tallies shows that the advantage ultimately went to Macron, with 23.9% of the vote. Le Pen came up just behind with 21.4% of the vote. Conservative candidate François Fillon and Socialist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon both received around 19% of the vote behind the two front-runners.
Six months ago, the chance of Macron advancing to the final round of these elections was practically impossible. He is a novice politician who has run a platform which seems to contradict his past professional experience. Macron once worked under the socialist administration of current President François Hollande. He is now campaigning on a moderate platform. Secondly, Macron’s slogan, “En Marche,” or “forward,” aims to appeal to progressives. However, the newcomer is a former investment banker and has vocalized support for military intervention in Syria, two qualities that don’t jive well with the liberal base.
Le Pen on the other hand was projected to win from the get-go. Although she has tried to amend the tarnished legacy of her father Jean-Marie Le Pen by moving more center, she has remained more or less faithful to her base. Le Pen rode the contemporary wave of anti-immigration and anti-establishment sentiment all the way to the final two as expected.
As it stands, liberal underdog Macron maintains an edge over the ultra-conservative Le Pen. However, the sporadic opinion polls leading up to the first round are evidence that in this race, things can change in a moment’s notice. A rising stock market suggests that investors are confident that Macron will ultimately come out on top, but there are still a couple weeks of campaigning to go. Stay tuned!