France’s presidential election is gaining momentum with some clearer trends becoming more evident now. It now appears that Marine Le Pen is inching closer to the winner’s chair, at least in the first voting round. Le Pen has been making the news with her anti- establishmentarian stance, which seems to be ticking all the boxes for her voters who have been disappointed, to say the least, about the current incumbent’s policies.
Stronghold areas for Le Pen
Interestingly, Le Pen has immense support from an unexpected segment of the population- the blue collar sections from France’s northern and eastern industrial areas. Her stance also appeals to the youthful segments with limited skill sets who are currently finding it a huge challenge to find employment. The subdued pace of economic growth and the soaring unemployment rates have been posing serious obstacles for these members of the public.
Le Pen’s commitment to re- industrialize France has been received very well by these segments of the population. Of course, her promise to bring back welfare privileges has only made the picture she has painted for France even more rosy and inviting. Le Pen’s outlined programs also include a bid to get the central bank to direct finance the nation and subsidize industry across the country. By bringing in trade barriers and clamping down on immigration, and taxing foreigners Le Pen hopes to improve conditions for locals while ensuring that jobs are retained by them and not taken away from outsiders.
The independent candidate who can give Le Pen tough competition
While Le Pen seems to be holding a strong position in polls, opinion polls indicate that she may have to face some stiff competition just because she is viewed as too revolutionary by many. This is where the independent candidate Emmanuel Macron appears to gain an edge. He quit the Socialist government last year and he is also the brains behind the En Marche movement that has garnered quite some support. He has also recently gained support from Francois Bayrou, who has seen three presidential elections until now and this support is likely to swing many voters in Macron’s favor.
Mr. Macron’s main poll promises are to cut public expenditure, and also reduce civil service jobs over a five year period. He has also put forward a proposal to bring corporate tax down by nearly 8% and to keep budget deficits under control.