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Election Extremism: French Edition

In case you didn't notice, there is a strong wave of dissolution sweeping the world. Ok, that might be an exaggeration. But, as we saw with Brexit (the UK's vote to leave the EU, and the fast-tracking of the process by Theresa May), efforts for more state sovereignty are well underway. 

WHAT'S UP WITH FRANCE?

I ask myself that daily. Turns out that besides amazing bread, there is a lot to be said about French politics. Currently, there is a highly publicized and highly concerning presidential election taking place. Two candidates - Marine Le Pen (previously of the National Front) and Emmanuel Macron (En Marche) - have advanced to the second and final round of voting. Le Pen is infamously known for being the daughter of politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, and for kicking her father out of the party in 2015.

Of course, after making through the first round, Le Pen shirked her extremist right-winged party affiliation by stepping down as leader in the hopes of appealing to more middle-of-the-road and swing voters.

THE ISSUES

European Union membership: A significant problem facing European countries today is the idea that the EU provides little in favor of bigger countries, and exists to support the weak. There is economic unity but no development towards political alignment or unity per se. 

Russian political interference: Russian hackers have laid claims to interferences in the French elections, as they did in the U.S. 2016 election. Generally we should be concerned about Russian election hacking. Ever since Russia annexed Crimea, the EU has coordinated with the US to implement sanctions against Russia. Russia is interested in breaking solidarity of EU member states. It is also worthwhile to note that Le Pen has a close relationship to Russia, so it is predicted that Russia will double down in efforts to help Le Pen. 

Syrian refugee crisis: Germany is the last standing EU member state to continue accepting Syrian refugees. Le Pen wants to leave the EU because she says France can't control their own borders if they remain. However, she mischaracterizes this point and begs the question. Perhaps it is time to consider comprehensive policies to manage external EU borders. 

    HOW DOES THIS IMPACT ME?

    Such an important question. In your determination, it is useful for you to know that 45's administration itself threatens the relationship between the U.S. and the EU. People in the administration - like Steve Bannon - have expressed their disdain for the EU, and 45 himself publicly supported Brexit. If France leaves the EU, the euro will be significantly weakened. France is the eurozone's second-largest economy.

    Thus, even if Macron wins that doesn't mean everything is ok. The extremes have been very popular in recent election cycles (see: U.S. and Brexit). For example, Le Pen's party has moved from 20% in the second round (2002 election) to a predicted 40% in this year's presidential second round. How do we reconcile this extremist threat to democratic institutions and unions as they stand? Should we be concerned? 

    READ MORE

    • BBC News - "Brexit: All You Need to Know About the UK Leaving the EU"
    • BBC News - "Le Pen Steps Aside as National Front Leader"
    • European Commission - "Schengen Area"
    • The Guardian - "Marine Le Pen: Britain has shown France how to leave the EU"
    • CNN - "5 Reasons Why Americans Should Care About Brexit"
    Photo from Politico Europe.

    Photo from Politico Europe.

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