The 2017 French Presidential Election

Alexa Austin, Staff Writer

After a tough fight, Emmanuel Macron won the 2017 French Presidential Election with 66.1% of the vote. His competitor, Marine Le Pen, who garnered 33.9% of the vote, suffered a hard loss after her second attempt to win the French presidency ended in failure. Back in April, the French people went through their first round of voting for their next president. It narrowed down the whopping 11 candidates to 2: Macron and Le Pen. Leading up to the final round of voting, the candidates had been campaigning as much as they could to garner support for their cause. Finally, on May 7th, Macron was voted the next president of France. When hearing about these results, I was overjoyed because of each candidate’s stances on economic and social reforms.

First, I am going to talk about Marine Le Pen’s planned policies, and her role as the leader of the far-right political party, the National Front. Founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le pen, in the late 1970s, the party became known as a racist, anti-Semitic party largely due to Jean-Marie Le Pen’s downplaying of the Holocaust. Since Marine Le Pen took over in 2011, she has been rapidly trying to change the perception of the group. However, her campaign took an uncharted course when she denied that France was responsible for the Vel d’Hiv Roundup in which French officers rounded up Jews and brought them to Paris to be sent off to Nazi concentration camps. This contradicts the statement made by French President Jacques Chirac in 1995 in which France claimed responsibility for the ordeal. Since then, many protests have been organized, and pictures of Marine and Jean-Marie Le Pen are hung around France with Swastikas and red x’s marking their faces. As for reform, many of Marine Le Pen’s ideals fall in line with her “France for France” maxim. This includes her lack of support for globalization and opposition of the E.U., as well as her plans to radically reduce the number of immigrants and ban the Hijab, because they do not fall in line with her specific vision for France.

As for Emmanuel Macron, I think he is a wonderful candidate with many policies that one would not typically see from French politicians, some of which include plans for liberalization in the French economy. In 2016, he even created his own political party, En Marche!, that is fairly neutral. Before I go into specific proposed policies, I am going to briefly explain France’s current economic problems, so you can better understand why I support the Macron’s ideas.

As of 2017, France’s public debt was almost 90% of their GDP, despite the fact that France is the second economic powerhouse in the European Union. This is largely due to the fact that the country’s economy and government have been closely intertwined since the end of WWII. A recent example took place in 2005 when Pepsi tried to buy Danone, a French food company, and the French labor minister and finance minister both pledged they would do “all they could” in order to prevent the buyout of the company. This exemplifies the fact that the French economy and its government are so interconnected.

Not only is the French government fighting to be involved in the economy, but they also lack innovative ideas. Although France was one of the leading nations when it came to new technology, the exportation of these goods has greatly decreased in recent years. Unlike the United States, China, and Korea, France does not have large companies mass-manufacturing goods that are in demand, such as Apple products. This has contributed to a slow growing economy. Coupled with unemployment rates and massive public debt, the French economy is facing a downward spiral.

In order to change this, Macron has proposed a retirement of 120,000 civil servants, lowering taxes, strict budget cuts, and keeping many trade policies open in order to restore the French economy. A shocking statistic from The Local, a French magazine, states that roughly 1 in 5 French people, approximately 5.5 million, are employed by their government. With the government and Macron looking to cut the government budget by €50 billion, laying off these civil servants is a necessity to repair the economy.

Overall, I believe that Emmanuel Macron is the best bet for the French republic. Unlike Le Pen, who wants to withdraw from the E.U. and stop globalization, Macron wants to expand trade, which is what the French people need to repair their economy. I also believe that Macron has more open ideas when it comes to the freedoms of the people. Therefore, I am very happy with the results of the election and the new French president, Emmanuel Macron.