After a tumultuous election campaign filled with scandal and surprises, French voters will decide on Sunday whether a pro-European Union centrist or an anti-EU, anti-immigration far-rightist will lead them for the next five years.
Opinion polls indicate they will pick Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old ex-economy minister who wants to bridge the left-right divide, resisting an anti-establishment tide that has seen Britons vote to leave the EU and Americans choose Donald Trump as U.S. president. But should an upset occur and National Front candidate Marine Le Pen win, the very future of the EU could be on the line. Macron, who wants to deregulate the economy and deepen EU integration, has a 23-26 percentage point lead over Le Pen in the opinion polls.
Forecasts proved to be accurate for the presidential election’s first round last month and markets have climbed in response to Macron’s widening lead over his rival after a bitter debate on Wednesday.
In a campaign that has seen favourites drop out of the race one after the other, Le Pen, who wants to close borders, ditch the euro currency and clamp down on migration, is nevertheless closer to elected power than the far right has ever been in Western Europe since
World War Two. Even if opinion polls prove accurate and France elects its youngest president ever rather than its first female leader, Macron himself has said he expects no honeymoon period.
REUTERS, 07th MAY, 2017