Far-right extremist Marine Le Pen will challenge centrist Emmanuel Macron for the presidency of France, with the outcome expected to dictate whether the country will break from the European Union. The final showdown will take place on May 7.
Early returns in a tight race place Macron ahead of Le Pen, with projections estimating that Macron will receive 24 percent of the vote, with Le Pen trailing at 22 percent. Neither candidate belongs to one of France’s traditional mainstream parties, but then again, neither candidate is typical of a traditional French candidate. From the New York Times:
Mr. Macron, a former investment banker, abandoned traditional parties a year ago to form his own movement with an eclectic blend of left and right views. He campaigned on a pro-European Union platform, coupled with calls to overhaul the rules governing the French economy.
And Le Pen...well, Le Pen is unusual for France, but her hateful policies certainly sound familiar. From Al Jazeera:
The leader of France’s far-right National Front (FN) party hopes that she will be a leading figure in this radical reordering of the global elite, which already counts the election of US President Donald Trump and the British vote to leave the EU among its successes.
Once considered an unrealistic prospect, Le Pen would cause shockwaves just as large as Brexit or the Trump victory if she were successful in the upcoming presidential vote.
Former front-runner Francois Fillon, a center-right candidate, conceded ahead of the exit polls, calling on the people of France to throw their weight behind Macron. Le Pen’s party, he said, was known for “violence and intolerance.”
The left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon is remaining in the running for now, despite being projected to receive only 19 percent of the vote. The Socialist Party’s Benoit Hamon, who belongs to the same battered party as President François Hollande, will likely finish with around 6 percent of the vote. “I encourage everyone to fight as hard as they can to fight the extreme right, and to fight for Macron,” he said.
“What is at stake in this election is a referendum for or against lawless globalization,” Le Pen said to cheers. “Either you choose in favor of a total lack of rules, without borders, with unlawful competition, the free circulation of terrorists, or you make the choice of a France that protects.
“This is truly what is at stake. It is the survival of France,” she said.
This story will be updated.