Macron VS Le Pen – The Battle over Europe

Published: 2017/05/02

After a closely-fought election battle, France is now faced with the choice between a centrist, political newcomer and a far-right firebrand as its next president. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are both promising a renewal of France and a break from traditional politics. But what could Sunday’s vote mean for the outside world?



The choice facing the French electorate is being pitched as a vote for Europe or a vote against it, with the rivals standing in sharp contrast to one another.


The focus of Le Pen’s campaign has been her firm anti-EU position and rallying cry to restore sovereignty to France. She has capitalised on the nationalist, anti-establishment sentiment growing on the continent after the UK voted to leave, winning support from rural and former industrial regions.

She has an ambitious list of negotiating targets with the EU, including turning the block in to a loose coalition of countries, as well as pulling France out of the Schengen zone, the Eurozone and ending the pre-eminence of EU law. If the deal was to fail, which it almost certainly would, she has promised a “Frexit” referendum. It’s a policy that could drastically change the future of France, as well as the European Union.

Emmanuel Macron, who won the support of big cities in France, is considered the safe option for Europe. The 39-year-old is a keen defender of the European Union project and is in favour of closer integration.

He wants to promote free-trade deals and create a separate Eurozone budget. However, he has also raised concerns about the efficiency of the bloc and insisted the EU must reform in a bid to keep the support of the public and keep Frexit calls at bay.



Regaining control of the country’s borders from the EU and reducing immigration has been a key mantra of Le Pen’s campaign. Her closed-door policy would see France leave the Schengen zone, the open borders system which allows people to move freely around the EU without passport checks.

She would limit immigration to 10,000 and make companies pay a tax for hiring foreign workers. Asylum rules would be restricted and foreign criminals or foreigners with links to Islamic terrorism would be automatically deported.

While Macron instead favours strong external EU borders, to relieve countries such as a Greece from the burden of the migration crisis. In a bid to improve integration in France, he wants to make fluency in French the main condition of obtaining French citizenship. He also wants to give all religious leaders training in France’s secular values.



Macron wants to bolster international military cooperation by creating an EU defence fund to promote joint military projects. While Le Pen wants to boost France’s own defence spending and take France out of Nato’s command structure.


What’s next?

In Lyon, a city led by a socialist mayor, Emmanuel Macron obtained 30.31% of the votes in the first round. He was ahead of the conservative candidate François Fillon (23.35%) and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon (22,87%). Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon (9.13%) was in fourth place, with Marine Le Pen well behind with 8.86% of the votes.

Overall, Macron won the first round with 23.5% of the votes, slightly ahead of Le Pen with 21.53%. The vote was a clear rejection of traditional politics in France, which has been dominated by the left and right ruling parties in modern history. Macron, who is running as an independent after launching his movement En Marche! (Onwards!), is the clear favourite to win Sunday’s run-off vote, having been endorsed by the defeated candidates Fillon and Hamon.