Anti or Pro-EU - The French Choice
On April 24, media projections from the first round of voting in the French Presidential election put Emmanuel Macron (En Marche!) and Marine Le Pen (Front National) into the second round. As to who was in first or second place that would have to wait until official results were released a day later. What is clear, though, is that French voters are now faced with a stark choice between a pro and anti-EU vision for the future on May 7th. Let us take a brief look at what the two candidates have had to say about the EU and how they react to the EU.
1. Macron - happy to hold aloft the EU flag during the campaign; support for a ‘multi-speed’ EU; support for transnational lists for the European elections (where a limited number of seats in the European Parliament are elected by a pan-European electorate); and support for greater solidarity amongst EU member states i.e. an end to the spectacle where national leaders agree to things during meetings of the European Council and then return home to their national capitals blaming the EU.
“The French-German axis is the core of the reactor, both in the eurozone and the EU. It is a pre-requisite for any progress,” he said. “I propose to restore the credibility of France in the eyes of Germany, to convince Berlin in the next six months to adopt an active investment policy and move towards greater solidarity in Europe. We need it because the future of Europe is at stake.”
“Since 2008 we have failed to build Europe. Since 2008 we have had a lost generation that has seen only a vacuum of plans. Our duty is to rebuild the European dream,” Macron added, stressing the need for a multi-speed Europe.’ [‘Macron outline plans for multi-speed Europe’, EurActiv, March 3, 2017. https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/macron-outlines-plans-for-multi-speed-europe/]
2. Le Pen – determined to ensure that the EU flag is not part of her backdrop, a constant emphasis on the national dimension and a belief that the European project is dead and buried.
"The European Union will die because the people do not want it anymore ... arrogant and hegemonic empires are destined to perish," Le Pen said to loud cheers and applause. "The time has come to defeat globalists," she said, accusing her main rivals, centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon, of "treason" for their pro-EU, pro-market policies.’ Quoted in Reuters ‘France’s Le Pen says EU will die , globalist will be defeated’, Reuters, March 27, 2017. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-le-pen-euro-idUSKBN16X0FO
As for the next step, will the electoral base of Francois Fillon (Les Républicains) follow his appeal to vote Macron? Will Hamon’s (Parti socialiste) supporters follow his call to vote Macron? Where will the Melenchon’s (La France insoumise) voters, given that he did not endorse any candidate, go? Two weeks of excitement and uncertainty await despite all of the polls pointing to a Macron win in a two-horse race with Le Pen.