France goes to the polls on Sunday for the first round of a dramatically polarized presidential election, crucial to the future of the European Union, and the destiny of the continent.
Nearly 47 million voters will choose between a pro-EU centrist newcomer breaking away from the incumbent Socialist government, a scandal-ridden veteran conservative eager to slash public spending, while accused in indulging himself in public funds spending for private gains, a far-left eurosceptic, exercising a classic repertoire to blame all the misery of the world to the rich, or France’s first woman president, promising a U-turn from globalism to nation-state.
The latest polls indicated the two major contestants: Emmanuel Macron et Marine Le Pen, with a real battle promised at the second round of elections, while struggling to attract the electorate of the other candidates, fallen out of the race.
The rivary for the crown of the French ‘elected king/queen’ will be for the senior electorate, increasingly numerous in aging France. Remarkably seniors vote more than average, and subsequently are over-represented among voters. The attraction of the older generation of the voters, who are characterized by specific political choices, will become a real challenge for both Le Pen and Macron. However it would not be easy for the latter, as the senior citizens have an inclination to vote a conservative political programme, and are closer to traditional values.
So far Marine Le Pen showed more understanding for the needs of the senior citizens; on the strong side of Macron is contact with the youth, and diasporats/ immigration, especially from Muslim countries, who see in him a solid ally.
However any chosen candidate will face the need to conquer the parliament – Assemblée National, and the mega-challenge of dealing with French syndicates – powerful trade-unions, who keep under control economic development in the country, and the endeavours of presidents, irrespective their political convictions.