As many of you may know, the French general election has become of recent news with the first of the general election results coming in yesterday evening. And (dare I say, unfortunately) the two remaining candidates are: Marine Le Pen, from the far right National Front party and Emmanuel Macron, candidate for the En Marche! party. Now the two candidates differ drastically in stances, policies and what they believe is best for France. To be absolutely honest, what's best for France is for neither of them to be in power, however, that of course is my humble opinion and not the point of this blog post.
Marine Le Pen
Firstly, on to probably my least favourite candidate from my least favourite party (also, warning in advance, please look elsewhere if you're looking for an unbiased summary). Marine Le Pen. Or France's petite Trumpette.
I don't know whether it's the unconsidered nationalism in her stances that ticks me off, or the similarity of her views to those of Trump and Nigel Farage (oh yes, my favourites...). In fact, they mirror them so much that a possible 'Frexit' is on the table, but that will be explained later.
NATO and EU
I'll start with the stance that irritates me the most. Le Pen's desire to leave NATO. That's right, Le Pen stated that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation exists only to 'serve Washington's objectives'. I would just love to point out at this time that NATO was in fact created BY France and other Western countries during the Cold War to form an alliance organisation of sorts. In short, If France were ever to be attacked or get in a national pickle, NATO would be there to scoop them up and defend them. But of course, we want to leave.
Like NATO, Le Pen is pro 'Frexit'. She wants out of the EU, and if she can't get that, she wants at least out of the Euro (which currently is stronger than the dollar. Yes, let's get rid of that. Great idea, Marine). Of course, this was expected from the National Front - and was done in a cliche way: in the name of sovereignty. But, I can see where Le Pen is coming from (or I can try). To be fair, the unemployment has been high in France in recent years, and economic growth has been slow. Introducing a lower value currency, 'Le Nouveau Franc' would make French exports cheaper, thus making it cheaper to buy French goods with foreign money.
As much as I hate to say this, I kind of resonate with Le Pen on this topic. Globalisation simply put, is the free spread of commerce between nations - creating a 'borderless trade' as such. I think international trade is an amazing thing - and it strengthens countries and their businesses and economy. But, I also believe that such trade and globalisation should be monitored closely. And I'll tell you why.
For example, in nearly all countries in the world, one can purchase American goods, for example a Coca Cola, or a MacDonald's hamburger (not necessarily a good thing...). This creates consistency in the worldwide market - but it also creates an extremely wealthy elite. You see, because of the spread of these companies, it has now become almost impossible to start a successful business of your own - you're constantly being outsold by these massive franchises that play the worldwide econ plus market by quashing and buying out the competition. Ah, good old capitalism back at it again. So now, most purchases are unethical and in support of these huge corporations and as a result, local businesses are not supported.
Le Pen dislikes globalisation because of this 'elite' which is created, which makes it harder for French products to thrive in their own country. However, she dislikes it to the extent of wanting to PULL OUT of the Canada and EU trade agreement. This is where I start to disagree. International trade should be present - I mean you can't expect to have ONLY French products, the market has demands. Also, international trade like this grows economies drastically and quickly. It just needs to be monitored, so that it doesn't go horribly wrong; as seen in the USA, where the top 50 richest people are also richer than the bottom 50% of the population.
She is also very anti-immigrants (but what were we to expect, after all she IS the candidate of the NF). Le Pen wants to introduce a policy that will make it harder to become a French citizen, tying in with her nationalist approach of 'make France more French'. This is all fair and well, but then things start to get slightly xenophobic and Islamaphobic. Marine states she wants to close all 'Islamist Mosques'. Awesome, now the French muslims, (YOUR people, Marine!!!), do not have a place of worship. All the recent terror attacks have only strengthened her point by reaching out to scared people. It seems like a quick fix to someone who doesn't realise that extreme Jihadism is only present within an extremely TINY population of muslims worldwide.
Her phobia of Islam is highlighted in her statement 'And all the little ones (young immigrants), who used to come home with my daughters, they went swimming together — and now they are all wearing the veil.”. To someone (with a brain...) this seems like an odd statement to make -what does wearing the veil have ANYTHING to do with France? Ah, but of course, the Hijab is a symbol of oppression to Marine and definitely not a symbol of France. So, undoubtedly, she dislikes it.
Not only this, but she also intends to make it harder for immigrants to find jobs by reducing labour taxes on companies who hire only French nationals. So, now it is no longer the most qualified person who gets the job, it's the one who is the most French. And I don't know about you, but I would rather receive medical treatment from a Syrian national with more qualification and education than a less qualified French national. But then again, I'm not sure, maybe wanting the most qualified people in jobs is a thing only I like...
Emmanuel's stances pretty much entirely contradict Marine's. As in, COMPLETELY - their stances may as well be on opposite ends of a magnet, they disagree so perfectly. This makes my points easier to explain, as most background information on the stance topics were mentioned in Le Pen's stance run down.
NATO and EU
Macron hasn't mentioned NATO as much as Le Pen has - probably because he wants France to stay a part of it. However, he has said that he does not back an expansion to NATO that is not directly wanted by, or beneficial to France. So I guess if you're situated outside the Balkans, or are Finland or Sweden, you're going to have to do some real kissing up to France if you want to join NATO. As for the EU, Macron believes that France should keep a firm FREMAIN. For him, the Euro and the European Union is what keeps France strong and sees no reason to allow Frexit to happen. Which is fair enough, since the elections, the Euro has increased in value by 2% and really, the French economy is not in enough trouble to introduce a plan B currency.
Macron is pro globalisation, and is the only French presidential candidate to have explicitly stated so. Not a fan of this policy, but it does mean he wants to keep the Candada-EU trade agreement, so I guess there is an upside to it all.
Unlike Le Pen, Macron (unsurprisingly) is not quite pro-immigration, but rather doesn't mind it. He says that no further efforts should be made to make it harder for immigrants to seek asylum in France, and job openings should be made to accommodate the surge of immigrants from the war-torn areas of the Middle East. I imagine him adopting a similar policy to that of Germany - who have proudly opened their doors as a safe haven for immigrants; as he has previously praised the efforts made by the nation. But in light of the recent terror attacks, most recently in Champs Elyssees and Paris, the frightened people of France haven't been completely convinced by this idea.
Now, since neither of the candidates won 50% or more of the votes in the 1st general election, they will go head to head in a second general election of which we will find out the results on the 7th of May. Maybe, if we shout 'vive la revolution' loud enough, neither of these candidates will gain power; but, something tells me that probably won't happen, so I guess we've just got to keep our fingers crossed for the best, and hope that all the world leaders don't gradually turn into Trump groupies...