An election for a new president of France takes place on April 23, 2017. To win, the candidate must get more than half the votes. If no one wins, the two top candidates will go to the second round on May 7, 2017. The winner of that election will be the new president. The current president is François Hollande. He is not running again. This is the easy part.
There are five candidates for the office. One leading candidate is François Fillon. He is a member of the conservative Republican Party. He wants to cut public spending. He takes a hard line on immigrants. He has major problems. He is accused of embezzling public funds. He put his wife and children on the public payroll. This is the big controversy in the campaign.
Many are urging him to drop out of the raced. He has refused to do so. He may no longer be a strong candidate.
This opens the door for the candidate on his political right. She is Marine Le Pen. She is The “Donald Trump candidate” in this election. She is to the political right of Trump.
Le Pen is a member of the National Front Party. Her victory would be a victory for ultra-nationalists all over Europe. If she wins, she wants to give people the right to vote France out of the European Union (EU). Just as British voters took Britain out of the EU.
There is a good chance Le Pen will get enough votes to reach the final round. Experts say if this happens, the other French political parties may form a coalition to vote against her. This sounds like the American “stop Trump” movement. That movement was not successful.
The centrist candidate is Emmanuel Macron. He is a member of the Onward Party. He says he is a forward-looking progressive. His strength is that he has wide support from political moderates. Experts say he could finish a close second to Le Pen.
The political left candidate is Jean-Luc Mélenchon. He is a member of the Rebellious France Party. He wants to work with Russia. He wants to increase public spending.
The fifth candidate is Benoît Hamon. He is a member of the Socialist Party. He favors traditional left-wing values. His party is divided, with many members favoring Mélenchon.
Right now, all the talk in France is about the François Fillon scandal. And the threat posed by Marine Le Pen.
Source: The New York Times March 6, 2017