Will the French people re-elect Emmanuel Macron for a second five-year term, or send Marine Le Pen to the Elysee Palace?
The first round of the French elections, held last Sunday, did not settle the race. Although Macron won all opinion polls, the gap between him and the right-wing candidate, Marine Le Pen, is shrinking, and her popularity is increasing. The figures were alarming for Macron’s campaign, as he won 53% of the vote, compared to 47% for his opponent.
This election is taking place during the Russia-Ukraine war, whose repercussions will affect Europe politically, socially, and economically, while the ghosts of a world war are hanging over.
France, like the rest of the European countries, is experiencing economic crises, some of which were caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and others from the Ukraine war. This is in addition to fears of possible halt of Russian gas and oil supply.
Macron, who is considered by some to be representing the wealthy, is the one who called for the awakening of Europe, and the formation of a united European army, far from the control of the United States.
The first days of the war in Ukraine came as a boost to Macron’s candidacy, as he was active on the international stage as the only Western leader to have had contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It looked as if the 2017 election would be repeated, when Macron won 66% of the vote.
This crisis may help Macron remain in the French presidential palace, especially after his position against the Russian military operation. At the same time, Le Pen paid for her support to Russian President Putin, which prompted her to adjust her ideas and distance herself from the Kremlin at this critical time.
Several observers agree that Le Pen may be the “winning horse” in the second round of the French elections, which will take place on 24 April, provided that Le Pen adjusts her economic vision and reduces her hostility toward immigrants.
If Le Pen won, will the new Elysee lady change her economic and political vision, and reunite the French people who have been exhausted by the pandemic and on their toes because of the Russian-Ukraine war?