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  • Writer's pictureCATHERINE DIECKMAN '17

The French and Their Search for President

As newspaper headlines in the United States continue to focus on the results of the presidential election in November and President Trump’s first few months in office, the French presidential election has been underway. The French people will vote on April 23, 2017 for their next president, and a secondary round will occur if a single candidate does not claim the majority of the original votes.

For this 2017 election, there are four political parties that are battling for the presidential seat. This is different from the typical fight between Les Republicains (the conservatives) and Les Socialistes (the left-wing party). François Fillon is representing Les Republicains, Benoît Hamon is representing Les Socialistes, Marine Le Pen is representing Le Front National, and Emmanuel Macron is representing the Independent Party.

François Fillon – Les Republicains

Presidential candidate François Fillon at a press conference.

Monsieur Fillon had a great start to his presidential campaign. His numbers were high, and he was a favored candidate to win. His love for Margaret Thatcher also gained him popularity because he will rid the French public sector of unnecessary civil servant jobs. Yet, his name has become questionable as scandal has surrounded his campaign recently. A French newspaper accused Fillon of paying his wife, Penelope, to do a job that did not exist. French officials are investigating the situation, and because of it, Monsieur Fillon’s approval ratings are plummeting.

Benoît Hamon – Les Socialistes

Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon singing the French national anthem.

Under the current president, the French government is run as a Socialist government. It would be expected that another Socialist president would be elected in this presidential election, yet François Hollande created a mess of his Socialist party. Benoît Hamon is trying to change the structure of his Socialist party so that French people will vote for his end of the political spectrum. Monsieur Hamon worked in education as a education minister before becoming involved in politics. He wishes to cut the hours of a work week as well as provide a basic income for all. Though he has these hopes in mind for France, his poll numbers are extremely low. During the first round of the election, Hamon is expected to be eliminated.

Marine Le Pen – Le Front National

Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in the middle of a debate.

A former lawyer, Madame Marine Le Pen is a strong nationalist who wishes to place France’s needs above other international issues in France. She has reworked France’s nationalist party and created it to have a less toxic image. Madame Le Pen is a candidate that is often compared to President Trump because she is a nationalist, a person who came from a non-political background, and has gained popularity in the polls significantly. In fact, many French polls have coined the term “Trump Effect,” meaning that millions of French voters who usually are right-wingers may choose Le Pen over Fillon.

Emmanuel Macron – Independent Party

Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron viewing poll numbers.

As many French people, like Americans, struggle between following party lines, Monsieur Macron is determined to be the most moderate choice in this presidential election. Macron worked for current president François Hollande, advising him on economic reform and policies. Yet, he does not follow the socialist tendencies of his superior; he wishes to form a new party in France, “En Marche,” defined as “On the Move.” Macron’s political standings are similar to Le Pen’s in this way because both candidates are running for France and for no other country.

Mr. Icsman, French teacher at SUA, states that “there is a distinct correlation between both the French and American elections. Easy parallels can be drawn between Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, and many more.” After the first round of the French election, Mr. Icsman predicts that the two final candidates running against each other will be Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen; ultimately, he believes “Emmanuel Macron will end up being president of France.” In early May, Mr. Icsman’s prediction will be tested to see who will hold one of the most powerful positions in the world of international politics.


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