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France: Why the French presidential election is both so scary and so important - by Brunello Rosa,

On the threshold of a populist revolution?
Following the first presidential debate on March 20, the race for the French presidency is now in full swing. My research firm MacroGeo is following these elections very closely.

At the end of last year we published a travel journal from Paris where we noted the risk of underestimating Marine Le Pen's chances of winning, and more recently our friend Pascal Gauchon, editor-in-chief of the French geopolitical magazine "Conflits," declared that the French are experiencing their most bizarre election campaign since 1848.

[France will hold its first round election on April 23. The two candidates with the most votes will then face off for the presidency on May 7. The five candidates still in the race are Emmanuel Macron (Onward!, centrist), Marine Le Pen (Nationalist Front, far right), Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Unsubmissive France, far left), François Fillon (The Republicans, right), and Benoît Hamon (Socialist Party, left).]

There are many reasons why the stage was set for the farce that is now playing out.

Hamon and Fillon have been overtaken by Emmanuel Macron, of his independent centrist movement Onward!, and Marine Le Pen, of the far right National Front party. Jean-Luc Mélanchon of the far-left Unsubmissive France movement will likely place third.

 The Republican and Socialist parties are the only ones with candidates still in the race that held primaries. And in both cases, party members did not choose the most moderate candidate with the highest chance of winning, but the candidate who was speaking to the most radical elements of his party's base [without being as radical as the outsider candidates].

It is no coincidence that the candidates who will qualify for the second ballot on May 7 will probably be those who did not take part in the primaries.

If either Macron or Le Pen win, it is unlikely they would enjoy a parliamentary majority that would allow them to implement the reforms they have in mind.

 The battle between Macron and Le Pen is a clash between an open and European France and an inward-looking country.

The two candidate's electoral campaigns are diametrically opposed. While Macron is openly pro-European, Le Pen wants France to leave the European Union and abandon the euro.

Le Pen is still underestimated and Macron is overestimated.

Due to the manner in which polls are conducted and because of the reference sample, it is probable that Macron is currently receive a higher approval rating than the ballots will show.

And Le Pen will probably be able to attract voters who are not included in surveys, as well as those who do not publicly endorse her due to the stigma still attached to National Front.

The class struggle has only just begun and will continue regardless of who wins.  

Read more: Why the French presidential election is both so scary and so important - Business Insider

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