‘Imagine!’ Emmanuel or Marine leading the Republic
By Paul Jacobs in Paris
Imagine national elections with neither Labour or National having a chance of winning. The French presidential elections, which kick off today, are a little like that, for the first time in memory.
The two main parliamentary parties are down in the polls, the Socialists are no longer contenders, while the Republicans on the right are beset with scandal involving their candidate, François Fillon. He is formally under investigation for having paid a fictitious salary to his Welsh wife, Penelope, for a number of years.
Current rankings put Emmanuel Macron a young 39 (in France that is young), in the lead with 24% of the votes for the first of the two rounds of voting.
Just behind him is Marine Le Pen with 23% followed by François Fillon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Left on 19% each.
‘Don’t forget the Socialists’
We must not forget the Socialists whose candidate, Benoît Hamon, trails at 7.5%. In fact, yes he would be best forgotten.
Meanwhile, in spite of the investigation taking place into Fillon’s spending of government funds, he has been creeping up in the polls these past few weeks.
Apart from Penelope he has been challenged about “work” given to his two children and, more recently, two expensive suits he accepted as a present, something he would never have done if he had been a New Zealand politician, n’est-ce pas?
But this is France which is starting to smarten up, or shall we say improve its act. Soon we will see no more parliamentary assistant jobs given to wives or other family members. Fillon employed his wife, which is legal, but no one ever saw her walking the corridors of parliament.
If Emmanuel Macron is one of the two successful candidates to compete in the second and final round two weeks later, he will have a very good chance of becoming president.
Opposite him, most certainly, will be Marine Le Pen of the Far Right. But, as everyone in France knows, votes for her in the first round will play musical chairs in the second and, despite her popularity and ever growing and more respectable political party – a far cry from what it was previously under her father – she will most certainly lose to Macron.
Uncommitteds and the second round
And the uncommitted voters would most likely put their votes in the Macron camp in the second round.
In fact, whoever the candidate opposite Le Pen in the second round is, Le Pen is predicted to lose.
She has an anti-Europe and anti-immigrant position, wants France to return to the Franc and yearns to pull the country out of Europe, rather like that small country across La Manche.