Elections_France_52017 is really turning out to be the year of European elections. Germany, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and now Britain has joined the fray with Prime Minister Theresa May calling a surprise general election for June. Ahead of that, however, will be the first round of the French presidential elections, which takes place on Sunday 23 April.

The campaign so far has been astonishing. What began as a shoe-in for the centre-right candidate, François Fillon, has turned into a surprisingly close four-way race between Fillon, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the current front-runner: Emmanuel Macron.

We had a comment from Keith arguing that all four candidates represent “real change” for France. In particular, however, he is hoping for a Macron win. But is he right that the “political outsider” Macron genuinely represents change? And, if so, what sort of change does he stand for?

To get a reply, we spoke to Philippe Marlière, Professor of French and European Politics at University College London. You can read more of his thinking on the upcoming French elections on his blog (in French) or in The Guardian (in English). What would he say?

MarliereWell, Emmanuel Macron is indeed a new political proposition in this campaign. Why? I think essentially because he stands allegedly above left and right, which is in France a very important, enduring dichotomy… Is he a centrist? That’s a bit difficult to answer, because a lot of political commentators in France argue that there is no political centre – you either lean a little to the left or the right. Macron is certainly a very untested politician, because let’s remember that only five years ago he wasn’t in politics. So, he’s a newcomer to politics – first as a political adviser to François Hollande, then for about two years in a senior role as Minister of the Economy. So, he was part of a Socialist-led government which, as you know, is not finishing its term very well. Hollande has not been able to run again because he’s so unpopular, and Macron is closely associated with his government. So, that’s the first point to nuance things slightly…

Would he do something radically different? I think he seems to be setting the bar very high. However, his programme seems to be a mix of things done by the current government, of which he was a member, and also his own policies which seem to be very liberal. He seems to be working on the two legs of liberalism: economic and social. He is economically liberal, which means he is not a statist; he’s not a person who talks very much about state intervention. On the contrary, his whole programme is about making the economy more flexible; it’s about really ditching a number of the social protections which exist… But he’s also politically and culturally liberal, and in France it’s quite unusual for one candidate to embrace both economic and social liberalism…

To get another perspective, we also spoke to Paul Smith, Associate Professor in French and Francophone Studies at the University of Nottingham. What would he say in response to Keith’s comment?

smithI would say to Keith that, under Macron’s leadership there will be a refocusing on Europe. I think that’s quite clear with Macron, who sees Europe as a vehicle for taking France forward. I think he has a critique of Hollande’s performance in Europe, which is that there hasn’t been enough positive emphasis on what the EU does and what France’s place is in Europe.

Nevertheless, Macron is principally focusing on a social democratic / social centrist message which is in some ways a continuation of Hollande’s position. He is also looking at, for example, tackling unemployment by taking the whole unemployment system back under control of the state; things like unemployment benefits and job centres in France are controlled by a combination of employers and trade unions, and Macron feels that this system hasn’t succeeded and so the state needs to take back control. He’s also talking about simplifying legislation; there’s a very complicated tax system, for example, and he’s focusing on trying to simplify that. Also making regulations more flexible to encourage business, and particularly small businesses. So, in some ways it would be a continuation of what he did when he was Minister of the Economy. Also I think he’s keen to emphasise the role of Europe in that equation.

Is Emmanuel Macron the right person to lead France? Will he bring radical change to France, or will it be more of the same? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Mutualité Française

154 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Gustaaf Van den Boeynants

    No ! He is the continuition of the disastrous economical pokicy of Hollande. The law-El Khomri, law-Macron and the passing by force of the parliament by 49.4 is him ! Aalso the sale of french industry to foreigh companies comes from him.

    Nothing but misery for the working class, less social justice and plenty of money for the wealthy and big corporations. Neoliberalsm quoi…

  2. Ek Ie

    I don’t get, how such a Country can on one hand give a person like LePen a serious chance of winning and on the other hand, is doing Germanybashing before elections, instead of questioning their own mistakes. I don’t want to defend the bad things in Germany, but Germanybashing is always coming up before election almost all over Europe. That’s sad and shows, that instead of own critics, it is always easier to blame others.

    • Arielle Becco

      Ms que faites-vous sur une page européenne? Maso?

    • Rémi Martin

      Ivan, look at UPR from Asselineau, it wants to get out directly, without referendum like the two jokes presented by the medias!

    • George Smith

      Hey Ivan you still there? The same pain in the as as usual. Are you Russian or paid by Trump to do such comments? Well, without people like you it could be boring.

    • Ivan Burrows

      Rémi Martin

      The French people freedom from the dictatorship of Brussels is at hand, Here’s hoping they take it. :)

  3. Didier Bruneton

    He is the prostitute of the bankers after all Goldman Sachs gave money to him. The only way to save France is the FREXIT so Asselineau is the right choice.

    • Arielle Becco

      Same for you. Why following an european page if you hate it? Nothing better to do?

    • Didier Bruneton

      Arielle Becco It did just pop on my page

    • Rémi Martin

      This page is debating Europe, and Didier, like France, are in Europe, so they’ve got the same place here as you Arielle!

  4. Svetislav Meandzija

    silver spoon brats are always welcomed! Especially when disguised as pro-european. This guy NEVER held a real job in his life. Has no clues how French actually live. For the reason – he is the best candidate – for banksters.

  5. Manuel Meier

    He talk about the right problems and I think he will make a good job for France. I hope he will win.

    • Romain Gibs

      He talks non-sense everyday, says something and the contrary the following day

    • Manuel Meier

      I’m sorry, in my opinion everybody has the right of his own opinion, but what you say is for me the exactly definition of “non-sense”. If not… Could you say me what he exactly says yesterday, what he says contrary about it today?

  6. Georges Athanassopoulos

    If I’m not mistaken debating Europe asked only for 2 candidats of France . So why it didn’t ask for Mélanchon, Hamon or Fillon ? Are they less interesting than Macron and Lepen ? That’s a strange way of debating, especially 4 days before the elections .

  7. Takis Karpoutzoglou

    Well he looks French alright. Last name btwn a Big Mac and a macaron, cool for play-on-words pour les deux p’tites “filles”…what’s the big deal?

  8. Nicolas Serge

    Well! It belongs to the French people to vote for their president! And I’m sure that will make a good choice and we’ll respect their choice. I particularly don’t know Emmanuel Macron. I heard that he was a socialist. He was a former minister of economy of the current socialist president Francois Holland and decided to create his movement in order to run as president.

    • Marc Morel

      À socialist ???? 😂😂😂😂

  9. Nicolas Serge

    So first, I can try to understand what he’s doing throughout the actions of the President Francois Holland. Even if I disagree with Him, I think that he was misunderstood. He came from the left side of the socialism, became president with a center-left agenda and ended his presidency with a center-right initiatives and programs.

  10. Nicolas Serge

    As a result he did move from the pacte social (social pact (deal)) to the pacte de responsibility (entrepreneurial deal) to the pacte de security where France became a police state.

  11. Nicolas Serge

    He was right to do so because the major challenge of France is not a Demand challenge but a Supply one. France needs to upgrade in value chains in order to be competitive. in this context of globalization by supply, France needs a Supply agenda not a demand one. And a socialist can’t implement any further supply agenda in an effective manner compare to the capitalist.

  12. Nicolas Serge

    I think that voting for the socialists in 2012 in France has been a huge mistake. But President Holland made effort to adjust the situation even he did lose his supporters. Now the socialism is in decline and it’ll be hard to rebuild it without learning from their experience.

  13. Nicolas Serge

    For Emmanuel Macron, he has his chance but he needs a clear positioning. And this confusion could affect his presidency if he wins. I also don’t know if he’ll have all the capacity and experience to implement effective center-right policies?

  14. Nicolas Serge

    His movement is unclear on several issues. The same stakes in US are also back in France: Competitiveness-Security and identity and he has few days to clarify is position.

    • Binez Blafla

      He has done so quite clearly, getting standing ovations on all three points at rallies, well beyond crowd orchestration, and getting high approval ratings for presidential behaviour post TV appearances.

  15. Nicolas Serge

    Me I support President Trump. I did work on the theoretical and empirical evidence of His agenda and I’m sure that We’ll lead the USA till 2034.

    • Vitaliy Markov

      Education system sucks in Georgia, clearly. But we all already knew that.

    • Vitaliy Markov

      Education system sucks in Georgia, clearly. But we all already knew that.

  16. Franck Néo Legon

    No, he is just a pupet for big money shareholders, he would sell everything for quick profit and leave, just like they do with our industries.

  17. Jeanne Kerbellec

    aucun des deux universitaires n’a dit clairement qu’il soutenait ou non le candidat Macron, cependant on peut noter qu’ils n’ont pas d’arguments vraiment négatifs, nagent plutôt dans l’inconnu du fait de sa récente implication près du gouvernement Hollande…le blog par contre est une misère…comme les deux zozos qui ont répondu ici…

  18. Jean Pierre Chevrier

    Nous voulons un président jeune réaliste et ambitieux pour la France nous ne voulons pas un hologramme haineux ! non au démagos d’extrême gauche et d’extrême droite avec des programmes irréalistes et dangereux pour la France !

    • Rémi Martin

      Tu parles au nom de ses quelques fans? Qu’il se présente à une élection avant de se la ramener le blanc bec!

    • Remi Tout-doux Tout-gentil

      Tu parles de l’hologramme haineux qui propose la paix, l’éradication de la pauvreté, une meilleure façon de traiter notre planète et les animaux, qui parle d’amour et de bonheur ?

  19. Léon Fleur

    On remarque vite ceux qui mettent des sommes dans facebook pour augmenter la portée de leurs publications. Merci le sponsoring de nous laisser réfléchir par nous même.

  20. Acsai György

    Will you guys run analyses on the other candidates or will it be enough to push only one or two of them?

  21. Aditya Sameer Guduru

    I ll leave France whoever maybe the president. If leftists win, I ll get killed by Jehadis and if right wins, I ll be killed by white supremacists! Au revoir France!

    • Rémi Martin

      Au revoir! Les rats abandonnent toujours le navire les premiers!

    • Dimit Basse

      Ahahaha, the most funny comment about french elections

    • Anirudh Pammi

      Aditya Sameer Guduru : I never understood why people comment on random Facebook posts expressing their hatred and rarely their appreciation for people and news and then get into argument in the comments section, if you really want to have a quality discussion about this subject go talk to a person you know and if you already did that, good god for you, what’s the point of commenting on Facebook threads?
      PS: I am just curious and by no way am I asking you to do or not to do a certain thing. I just want to know what motivates you to do this.

  22. Jules Calcet

    Debating Europe Hello Debating Europe, I’ve sent you a private message

    The director i’m working with took the bet to make Europe attractive and aesthetic in its diversity during the french election thanks to a high viral potential very short film called “Voices for Europe”. It’s a strong message of hope.


    One big media per european country will spread the message this week and they gave us the authorization to let “pages” like yours communicate about it. If you think it’s worth it, feel free to share.

    Subtitles are available in english and 6 other languages. If you want any other other informations, it would be pleasure to talk about it with you. History is playing a weird game right now. We need to be clever & united.

    I wish you a nice day,

  23. capt ned ludd

    i wasnt convinced by the first page of his manifesto, but as i read on i found i was becoming quite impressed by the concrete proposals he was making. the great hope with macron is that by freeing himself from party ties he can call on talent from across the political spectrum.

  24. Patrick Bréjon

    It is good not to leave Europe and Europe, just decentralize decision-making and organizations; For this purpose, a small ministry or secretariat for European affairs is needed in each country, to entrust the vote on each point to the national assemblies, to apply coefficients according to the representation of each nation and each party, to the proportional one, Management, at least in each country
    In order to build national democracy, there are many ways: as I explained giving more institutional representation and powers to the defenders of the present rights, formalize this; They will have to collect grievances in all fields and to manage them and transmit them to mayors, judges, local chambers or even higher level ministries as at present; There are other ways but this one is the most transparent, the most direct and local, with good traceability With Mélenchon

  25. Keith Tidbury

    I live and work in France, and Macron is just another Muslim appeasing twat ! He is no different to Hollande, he won’t shut the borders and let even more Muslim migrants and Isis infiltrators in. Marine Le Pen will shut the borders and sort out the Muslim migrants and Islamic extremists. Which will help Britain , because they won’t be able to get to Calais. Vive Le Pen !!

  26. Keith Tidbury

    I live and work in France, and Macron is just another Muslim appeasing twat ! He is no different to Hollande, he won’t shut the borders and let even more Muslim migrants and Isis infiltrators in. Marine Le Pen will shut the borders and sort out the Muslim migrants and Islamic extremists. Which will help Britain , because they won’t be able to get to Calais. Vive Le Pen !!

    • Paul Moulin

      Hhooowwww… you’re serious? This guy is certainly the most hilarous… but not for good reason! 😂

  27. Roland Rabier

    I will vote for Marine le Pen, she is the only one who can protect us against growing Islam.

  28. Roland Rabier

    I will vote for Marine le Pen, she is the only one who can protect us against growing Islam.

  29. Paul Vincent

    Probably not…but seems most likely winner….says more about paucity of choice for the French.

    • Augustin Gerard

      he’s an Hollande number 2. When he was minister, he have make lose 100 billion at the gouvernement in 3 years. Macron should die

    • Paul Moulin

      Augustin he don’t lose it… he decided to not take it it’s very différent do you know what’s the CICE?

    • Donovan Joseph Ami

      Yup, the CICE is a 41 billion waste EVERY. DAMN. YEAR. The exact amount of new dividend after the first year of the CICE, strange right ? And in the two years he was in charge of economy, we got 830 000 new unemployed.
      We don’t need someone who already failed and want to continue his “journey” with the same mistakes.

      I will vote Mélenchon : experienced, when he was at the governement under Jospin he did nothing wrong, created 3 great things (lycées des métiers, CAP and VAE) and stopped a strike. And because he is the only one who care about nature and young people.

  30. James Chater

    I like Macron because he wants to simplify things. Legal compliance costs too much time and energy and is a real drag on the system. For example, as a self-employed person who does not employ anyone (sole trader), why do I have to fill in TWO tax returns? It’s a no-brainer: time spent on paperwork takes away from time created producing wealth. I am not in favour of “liberalising” in order to get rid of social protection, but because te country needs to refocus on wealth creatiion.

    • Tim Lee-Foster

      Absolutely James. I’ve heard Macron speak live and he is certainly talking about the sort of things that will wake up the French economy. If Le Pen wins, France will be bankrupt in six months. If Mélenchon wins, France will be bankrupt in six days. Buy shares in Eurostar and Thalys as the entrepreneurs run abroad.

    • Freed Hewik

      how can you do such a stupid move like this ? Even before talking political views or program, Fillon is a goddamn cheater and has been for the last 30 years !

    • Andrew Lucas

      Freed Hewik Fillon may be not be the most likable character but he has more than 40 years of experience in politics whereas Macron almost has no political experience. He was part of Hollande’s government (the worst President ever) for 2 years. He is only 39 years old. Would you rather have me vote for someone who has little to no political experience? That sounds stupid to me.

    • Akos Tarkanyi

      Macron is outdated. He is not transsexual – yet…

    • Andrew Lucas

      Akos Tarkanyi I am sorry but if you are not going to contribute positively to this discussion, I invite you to fuck off.

    • Eve Tsirigotaki

      I understand that you are willing to bypass all the scandals that he is involved in, but from what I know he was also an ineffective and terrible MP under Sarkozy!

    • David Antonio GJ

      Andrew Lucas You mean 40 years of political corruption experience. I don’t understand how someone consider to vote for a very corrupt politician like Fillon. Fillon and Le Pen should not even have the right to be candidates for president!

    • Andrew Lucas

      Eve Tsirigotaki You mean Prime Minister (Premier Ministre). He was not excellent, he did what he could. Sarkozy was definitely a horrible President, just as bad as Hollande, but I am willing to consider Fillon due to his good program and 41 years of political experience. I really don’t see for whom else I could vote for, considering Macron is my second choice.

    • Andrew Lucas

      David Antonio GJ Macron and Hamon have also been suspected of breaking the law.

    • Freed Hewik

      Andrew Lucas actually you are right : Fillon is so experimented that he knows exactly how to use the system to it’s own benefit. By the way, we can all check his work during Nicolas Sarkozy’s “Reign” … I played music for the last 10 years and it doesn’t necessarily make me the best bass player around !
      Think about it…

    • Andrew Lucas

      Freed Hewik I am not saying Fillon is perfect, I am just saying he is better than the other 10 candidates. I want to congratulate you on your music talent. After playing music for 10 years, you must be an expert. (or close)

  31. Neil Snape

    Macron has already gone too far with his reforms. He’s introduced Sunday trading which was never needed, it’s a false economy to believe that trading on Sundays makes a significant difference. Then, I noticed the supermarkets open all day Monday, too. Give people a break, maintain the right traditions.

  32. Poulain Jean-francois

    Macron is the representative of the monetarist dictatorship that leads EU. He will give away all the French assets to his friends like Alstom to GE etc…

  33. Sarah EsEs

    He works wz algorithmes. He uses words ( studied algorithme) that touch peuple s hearts but what he will do is zero and even dangerous!

  34. Antoinette Kiss

    CE MEC EST LE PIRE DANGER QUE NOTRE FRANCE PEUT CONNAITRE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • René Steffen

      En politique vous étent pas futée MACRON PRESIDENT un CENTRE VERITABLE qui marche en Germany depuis des Année

    • Antoinette Kiss

      René Steffen CHACUN VOIT MIDI A SA PORTE …….VIVEEEEEEEEEEEEEE MARINE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Gilbert Puyau

      La bande à Macron tout en anglais et la mort de notre belle langue…

  35. Patrick Donati

    The Eurocrats have chosen their candidate ! The bankers engineered this guy , he is from the Rothschilds banking corporation ! And wonder what ? he is bankrolled by them ! This is what they call Free Market oriented politics ! Freedom for the foxes in the poultry shack !

    • Pierre Chevalier

      Yep. At this game, French chicken have never been very successful…

  36. Peter Spiers

    I personally don’t think so, I don’t think that under his leadership the necessary changes would take place, I very much think that it would be a continuation of things as they already stand

  37. Larry Lart

    most likely, yes… remember the headlines back in December 2014 “Putin Funds Far Right in France. “It’s No Secret,” says Marine Le Pen” …. so, while she gives out about EU and making such a great deal of national interest, bla bla bla … she is in bed with putin / russian mob? And way too many people vote for her! What is wrong with you people?

  38. robert dunford

    macron is part of the old establishment he will not change anything france will be another country in a few years under islamic laws .just ask any women would she like to live in a country where women have no rights islamic law.once islam takes over they take over the population .the hate of christian everybody knows this,universities have told us so muslims have told us so.france its a time for french time to have your country back your wonderful country do not give it away i

  39. robert dunford

    i for one was very shocked when i found that the european union is a A
    antichrist union THAT IS WHY THEY FLOODED EUROPE WITH THE SAME PEOPLES THINKING NO LOVE OF EUROPE OR EUROPEANS .what is islamic but antichrist .when the european union got in there was 72% christians living in europe ,and christians believe in love do not want a Dictator ,WHO WANTS TO HAVE A BIGGER ARMY THEN ROME AND CONTROL THE WORLD so must get rid of christians and have Antichrist ,do you really truly want to be aislam

  40. Julia Hadjikyriacou

    A country’s decisions shouldn’t be based on a person, they should be based on ethics and the wellbeing of its citizens.

    • Carmelita Caruana

      Off point. Asking about a person running for President includes asking about that person’s programme for the country and its citizens, and looking into his record ethnics and all. You are quibbling over a headline.

  41. Sento Pop

    Yes! I would vote for Macron for a more united and stronger European Union!

  42. Matej Mlinarič

    Don’t you get that Marine Le Pen is very likely winner. This is just stall tactics cause change is happening whether you like it or not. So you can either adapt to political interests of populations or UK won’t be last one that left. That is only real choice that you have.


  43. Azad Maruf

    It is the Nation who decides how to overcome that temporary divisions that aims to lift up someone and degrading another to under zeros….Tony Blair and his Dectating awfull decisions is a good example for that any one must not forget that…..That time when Million people asked him not to lead that illegal war by their name and the head of that country ‘s Independant body decided to stay silent at that cretical point , we have seen that how far that unwanted results and failuar could destroy Iraq and a lovely place like Paris as the longest consequences created from that illegal wars…..French as United nation with the rest of the world do understand that how wise they must to act but not blaming an elected leader alone…. However, everyone should thank you for bringing into the under lights that democratic debate but to appreciate that there are some other factors are not in anyone’s hands….

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