France elects a president today amid internal and external challenges

France elects a president today amid internal and external challenges

A real danger that Le Pen could reach the Elysee


Sunday – 23 Ramadan 1443 AH – 24 April 2022 AD Issue No. [
15853]


They are waiting their turn to cast their votes in the second round of the French presidential election in Montreal (AFP) yesterday.

Paris: Michel Abou Negm

Observers are unanimous in considering the crucial second round of presidential elections, which began at seven o’clock in the morning in France, to which the 48.7 million citizens were called, by all standards, as historical, given the internal and external challenges facing the country. For the first time, there is a real danger, despite opinion polls, that Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right, will reach the presidency of the French Republic, with this transformation taking many dangerous turns, both internal and external.
Also, the outgoing president’s stay for an additional 5 years in the Elysee Palace does not mean that his path will be paved with roses due to the economic, social, internal and external political challenges that have arisen since the first day of his second term. him not waiting.
That is why the French, along with many Europeans, will be on the television screens when exactly eight o’clock tonight the image of the president (or the president) who will lead the country appears.
In the light of the French electoral law, which prohibits the publication or broadcasting of any information relating to the expectations of the results, which is gradually available to polling stations, those eager to expect it seek the help of the Belgian and Swiss media, leaking from the afternoon as the first indications.
Whatever the final outcome, the first challenge facing the winner (s) of the presidency will be to obtain a parliamentary majority that will enable him to put his election manifesto into practice. The thing is, there’s a real problem facing Emmanuel Macron, as well as Marine Le Pen.
Political analysts have traditionally called the legislative elections scheduled for this year, next June, the “third round of elections” because of their centrality and impact on the new state. It is known that the French electoral system, which makes legislative elections immediately followed by the presidential election, gives the elected president a significant political dynamic. There is a “difficult number” named Jean-Luc Melenchon this year. And the latter, who won more than 7 million voters, and almost qualified for the second round, wants the “third round” to be his ride at the head of the government, which he explicitly said. In practice, Melenchon, whose party (Rebel France) is negotiating with the left parties, hopes to form united lists that – for its part – the “Greens”, the Communists, and perhaps the Socialists, and the rest of the left formations include so that they represent the lever that will overthrow the political scene.
On the other hand, Macron wants a broad front that includes his party (France on the move) and those who join him from right and left to form a broad majority that supports him in Parliament, enabling him to implement its election promises.
As far as Le Pen is concerned, no one in France today – given the electoral law in force – is expected to have a majority if elected.
In any case, France is on the verge of – whatever the expected results today – reforming the political scene, given the weakness of historical parties, and the emergence of two largely equal blocs, the far right and the hard left. , and between them is a mediator bloc convened by Macron and his party and those who rally around it.
Therefore, the first political challenge facing the new president (s) will be to restore cohesion in French society and reduce the tensions that engulf it. There are those who have claimed since before the results that serious shocks await the country, regardless of the identity of the new president, and that all the necessary components are ready for the outbreak of protests similar to the “yellow jackets” that erupted in 2018 and 2019. If Macron decides to really go with its pension reform plan, the protesters will take to the streets as they did before. And if Le Pen decides to implement her extremist program, it will raise real social and security issues.
Economic problems pose a major obstacle for the Elysee resident, given the decline in the purchasing power of the citizen; Especially the less affluent social low, the high inflation and the high prices. To complicate matters further, economic growth will decline from 4 percent to 2 percent. A study by the “Riscod” institute indicated that inflation, which reached 4.5 percent last March, will reach record numbers this year, while French government debt has exceeded 112 percent of gross domestic product. The trade deficit reached 6.5 percent of GDP by the end of 2021.
The fact is that Le Pen’s economic program is estimated at 68 billion euros compared to Macron’s 50 billion, which means it will be difficult to provide the necessary funds for this, unless both candidates see that the only solution is more debt or new taxes. . No solution would be welcome; Not from the economic circles or from the citizens. The authorities’ great fear would be the accumulation of revenge, so that the street would immediately explode.
The promises that have flowed to the voters at the economic level over the past two weeks will in any case be difficult to implement, and will therefore lead to real disappointments.
The difficulties, however, are not only internal but also external; Especially if Le Pen is the winner.
Macron’s European policy is well known, and the only amendment he will demand is a revision of the Schengen agreement on free movement. However, Le Pen’s accession to the presidency will soon mean a crisis with the European Union, whose main car was France, in partnership with Germany. Le Pen wants to reduce Paris’ contribution to the joint budget, and also strives to change the nature of the Union by transforming it into an “alliance” of European nations, which in practice means that it is being dismantled. More importantly, the latter wants French laws to be above European laws. The fact is that the basic decisions in the union are taken unanimously, and Le Pen will find herself almost alone, and she may have the support of Hungarian President Viktor Orban or the Polish Prime Minister, thus deepening European divisions. The rise of the extreme right to power in France will be leverage for the extreme right in other member states, such as the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic; In addition, the image of France inside and outside the Union will suffer a setback.
France will hold the presidency of the European Union until the end of next June, making it one of its president’s tasks to try to preserve the unity of Europeans regarding the Russian war against Ukraine, and relations with the United States, as well as with NATO; However, European divisions have grown, and the change of leadership in France contributes to the uncertainty given Le Pen’s foreign policy program.
For the past five years, Macron has sought to play active roles in dealing with the emerging crises: (Libya, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran’s nuclear program, Ukraine, and relations with Russia and the United States …). These crises have not been extinguished; No, but borrowed. Everyone remembers that Macron defended the principle of “strategic independence” for Europe, that is, not to subordinate it to the United States and to build a defensive Europe. He tried to make the old continent part of the subsequent negotiations between Moscow and Washington regarding “security” engineering “in Europe”, then there is the special relationship between Paris and Berlin that Le Pen wants to end, France’s difficulties in the Sahel region, the war on terrorist organizations and relations with Africa in general, the combination of these elements poses serious challenges for French diplomacy, and they will undoubtedly increase if the election removes Macron from the presidential palace.


France

The election

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