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Will France have unexpected, centrist president?

Posted April. 22, 2017 07:02,   

Updated April. 22, 2017 07:07

한국어

The French presidential election will take place on Sunday. According to a poll conducted right before the terrorist attack on the Champs-Elysees, Paris, Emmanuel Macron from his own centrist party “En March” is leading Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front by a thin margin, followed by François Fillon of the center-right Republican Party and a hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon who is rapidly emerging in the race in recent days ­­— a few contenders of several who are likely to win the race.

One of the most distinctive characteristics of this year’s election in France is the surprise, unexpected weakness of the traditional powers such as the left-wing Socialist Party and the right-wing Republican Party. In the meantime, a new centrist party has rapidly advanced. Benoît Hamon of the ruling Socialist Party is taking the fifth position in the polls, lagging behind Mélenchon by a wide margin, suggesting a slim chance of Hamon making it through the first round. Fillon of the Republican Party is sitting in the third position but the outlook is cloudy for him to proceed to the second round. What’s happening in France is quite similar to political situations in Korea. As Korea is nearing its presidential election, the former ruling conservative Saenuri Party has been divided with no prospect of winning this year’s election. The centrist People’s Party, separating itself from the left-wing group, is becoming a threatening rival to the left-wing Minjoo Party. In other words, the traditional left-wing party lost its grip on voters in France, while the long-time right-wing party has almost collapsed in Korea.

In France, if no candidate wins a majority in the first round, the top two candidates proceed to the second round a week later. According to a survey, Macron is expected to win against Pen by a significant margin if Macron and Pen, who are at the top of the polls, meet in a run-off. However, the center-right Fillon and the hard-right Pen could show a stronger performance after the terror incident in the Champs-Elysees. If Macron becomes a new president, he will be the first leader in France not representing either the Republican Party or the Socialist Party. After the Second World War, a candidate from the third party has hardly won any race in major advanced countries. The French election could have some influences in Korea’s election.

While Germany focused on improving productivity of corporate activities, France has tried to tackle a shortage of jobs through job-sharing arrangements such as reducing working hours. Worse, this has become a chronic problem in the French economy. Most of the previous presidents have miserably failed to deal with near the world’s lowest youth unemployment rates in France and lost elections to win a consecutive term. The 2015 Paris terrorist attack and the 2016 Nice attack have heightened security concerns in France and the French have begun questioning government’s ability to run the nation. However, supports for a new party with high hopes, out of hatred from existing politicians, will not be a solution. Voters should analyze the essence of the problem with a keen eye and seek for a right answer though it is hard and painful. Insightful voters can only put a nation on a path to development and success.