24th April 2017

AmCham France: French Presidential Elections: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will compete in the final round, after a defeat of mainstream parties

Following yesterday's vote, Emmanuel Macron, who describes himself as liberal and centrist, came first (23,86%) and will face off against the runner-up, Marine Le Pen (21,43%) of the far right. This is the first time in the Fifth Republic that the candidates of France’s established parties (the Socialists and Republicans) have not reached the run-off. Following the results, the Republican candidate Fillon (19.9%) and the Socialist Hamon (with only 6.3% of votes) both called to vote Macron. However, the party lines are not fully determined yet. The Socialists have been especially weakened by the rise of Mélenchon, the far left candidate, with almost the same result as Fillon (19.6%). 

The total voter turnout was 78.69%. The official results can be found here.

Emmanuel Macron
In the face of what initially seemed to be a polarized political landscape, Macron — a former investment banker who became Secretary General of the Presidency and then France’s Economy Minister under François Hollande’s administration — has managed to become the voice of “radical centrism.” The 39-year-old is hoping to become the youngest president in French history, and he aims to do so without the backing of a major party.

Key policy proposals: 

•    Europe : Further integrate the Eurozone, through creating a common budget and finance minister. Establish a joint EU control over foreign investment to defend strategic companies. Push for a “Buy European Act.”
•    Budget: Cut € 60 billion in public spending and reduce the number of public servants by 120,000 over 5 years.
•    Economy: Invest € 50 bn in modernization, reduce the burden of social charges and work-related taxes for employers, lower the corporate tax and push for its harmonization at EU level.

Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen, 48,  leads the “Front National”, a far-right party founded by her father Jean-Marie. She has engaged in a strategy to move her party past its far-right core. The party had some success in the European parliamentary elections in 2014 and regional elections in 2015. It is the second time that a candidate of the Front National makes it to the 2nd round of the presidential election - the last time was in 2002.

Key policy proposals: 

•    Europe : Hold a referendum on France’s membership to the EU, leave the Schengen agreement on free movement of goods and people.  Leave the integrated military command of NATO.
•    Budget: Lower the retirement age back to 60.
•    Immigration: Reduce legal immigration to an annual balance of 10 000.
•    Economy: Leave the Eurozone. Support industries through “intelligent protectionism." Introduce lower payroll taxes for SMEs.
Next steps 
•    7 May 2017 Second round of the presidential election. Polls suggest that the most likely outcome is a clear victory for Macron.
•    14 May 2017 (at the latest) Inauguration of the newly elected President
•    11 - 18 June 2017 France holds two rounds of legislative elections. These will truly define the political color of the parliamentary majority for the upcoming 5 years. The ability of the elected President to pass legislation and implement his/her program will largely depend on whether he/she can achieve a parliamentary majority. Should different parties gain control of the presidency and parliament, the resulting political friction could complicate policymaking. 

Further reading
IPSOS polling 
POLITICO analysis 
NYT analysis


Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic