Only One Way to 'Stave Off Disaster' in French Election

Country votes on Sunday
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2017 11:55 AM CDT
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
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(Newser) – France votes Sunday in a presidential election further roiled by the fatal shooting of a police officer in an attack claimed by ISIS. On Friday, President Trump tweeted that the shooting would "have a big effect" on the vote, without offering specifics. But the Washington Post points out that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has espoused anti-immigration sentiments similar to Trump's, and she doubled down Friday by calling for the reinstatement of border checks and the deportation of foreigners being monitored by intelligence agencies. A look at election coverage:

  • Eleven candidates are running, but four are neck-and-neck: Le Pen; Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker who says he's neither left nor right; the scandal-plagued Francois Fillon, the only establishment candidate in the running; and Jean-Luc Melenchon, known as the "French Bernie Sanders." See NPR for quick bios on each.
  • Assuming no candidate gets 50%, the top two finishers go to a runoff on May 7, explains a primer at the Globe and Mail.

  • The Guardian has a profile of Le Pen, who has tried to distance herself from her Holocaust-denying father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front Party she now leads. (She is regularly accused of anti-Semitism herself, however.) Their relationship imploded when she kicked him out of the party; he disowned her and they no longer speak. An analysis at the Atlantic says she specializes in demonizing Jews and Muslims while pitting them against each other.
  • At 39, the centrist Macron would be France's youngest leader since Napoleon, per a profile at RTE. In its own profile, the BBC notes an unusual aspect of his life that has made headlines: His wife, 24 years his senior and married with kids when they met, was his drama teacher when he was a teenager.
  • Former President Obama, popular in France, made a point to call Macron on Thursday, notes Time.
  • There's much talk of a "Frexit," meaning the exit of France from the European Union. Le Pen and Melenchon in particular have raised the prospect. The New York Times has a look at that and other factors at play.
  • John Oliver thinks the stakes are huge for Europe and the world, and he explains why here.
  • One person likely to be happy with the outcome? Vladimir Putin. That's because Melenchon, Le Pen, and Fillon are "unabashed pro-Putin populists," per Quartz.
  • At Slate, Yascha Mounk makes the case that a victory by Macron "is the only realistic way to stave off disaster," given the alternatives.
(Read more France stories.)

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