The EU’s future could hinge on the next occupant of the Élysée

Photos: Wikimedia Commons

The result of this year’s election will determine France’s place in the world and affect the future of Europe for years to come. More than a vote, it has become a battle for the country’s soul.

France will go to the polls this spring, ending long speculation over who will succeed the unpopular President François Hollande. A vote on EU membership, the creation of a European army, better relations with Russia, an unconditional basic income, a higher minimum wage, a future without nuclear energy – this is what is at stake. But who will win the clash? Europe – and the world – has its attention fixed on this decisive election: its outcome may transform the fate of Europe.

1. Who are the candidates in the race to the Élysée and what are they pledging?

François Fillon, Republican Party

Surprisingly smashing both Nicolas Sarkozy and subsequently Allain Juppé in the primaries, François Fillon gained the sound support of 68.6% of the Republican electorate, in the second round, hence becoming the Republican candidate in the contest. Fillon, a conservative on both economic and social issues, proposed the creation of a European defence alliance aligned with NATO when presenting his vision of a Europe less reliant on the United States and in reconciliation with Russia. As for immigration, Fillon pledged a “strict administrative control of the Muslim faith” vowing to fight the “fanatics relentlessly and with no mercy”.

Emmanuel Macron, En Marche!

Emerging from the wreckage of the mainstream left comes the candidate Emmanuel Macron, who quit President François Hollande’s government after launching his own political party last April. Its name En Marche! (‘On the march!’, or ‘Forward!’) even shares the initials with his name. A self-proclaimed pro-European aiming to appeal to a large part of the electorate, ranging from the left to the right, Macron rails against what he considers France’s real establishment: a society supported by precarious employees which excludes young people from the labour market. A former investment banker, Macron also pledges to relaunch an investment policy that would see France again competing among “the big players” on the international scene.

Marine Le Pen, Front National

In the meantime, Marine Le Pen, who is running for the anti-immigration Front National (FN) has been spreading her anti-European rhetoric and patriotic values throughout her campaign. Holding strong to her pledge to quit the European Union, Le Pen has made a public appearance in Koblenz, Germany, alongside the Alternative for Germany’s leader Frauke Petry and several other far-right European leaders in a public relations effort to pledge alliance ahead of the forthcoming French elections.

The most Eurosceptic of the French presidential candidates and a MEP, Le Pen has vowed to “put an end to Brussels superpower” while she praises Donald Trump’s “common view” on “economic axes” and his apparently unconstitutional stance on migration. In addition, the far-right contender promised to nurture solid relations with Russia.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, France Insoumise

A Nordic Green Left MEP and hard-line leftist, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who joined the Socialist Party in 1976, launched his contention in February 2016 with the creation of the political movement France Insoumise (“Unsubmissive France”). His political movement heralds an ideology based on sustainable environmental policies including shutting down French nuclear plants and withdrawing from trade agreements like TTIP and CETA – which Mélenchon claims to “require us to pursue policies of austerity, without state action or public investment”.

The 65-years old defends the need to have the means to invest and change the way we produce and consume. “The energy transition is vital,” Mélenchon insists. Compared to Fidel Castro by François Fillon, the veteran leftist is also staking his cause upon a reduction of the retirement age to 60 years and a vow to increase the minimum wage to €1,300 per month.

Benoît Hamon, Socialist Party

After the incumbent President François Hollande decided not to run for a second term in the Élysée, Benoît Hamon emerged as the Socialist candidate, beating former Prime Minister Manuel Valls in a runoff ballot with 58% of the vote. His campaign was centred on the basic income, the legalisation of marijuana and taxing robots, both projected to boost the revenues of the public coffers. Moreover, Hamon has pledged to push France into an energy transition from fossil fuels to 50% renewables by 2025.

Hamon’s campaign centres on basic income, legalisation of marijuana and taxing robots.

The 49-year-old former education minister Hamon was the most left-wing of all the Socialist candidates. Indeed, the Socialist is a public admirer of Jeremy Corbyn’s and Bernie Sanders’ vision of the world.

The French Socialist party has been in decay since Hollande’s election and its fresh new candidate is likely to rank only 5th on election day, according to polls. Given the political weight distributed on the left with both Macron and Mélenchon, some had even questioned whether the Socialist Party would present a candidate at all. “It is a probability,” said the MEP, anticipating a possible fragmentation of the left vote, which could empower the FN’s Marine Le Pen. Still, it seems unlikely that Benoît Hamon will abandon the electoral race.

2. What seems likely to happen?

Le Pen vs Fillon

According to The Independent, FN leader Le Pen is the frontrunner for the first round in the latest election poll, with 25-26% of the votes, while Fillon is expected to beat the far-right figurehead with 64% in the May runoff election, to become Hollande’s successor.

Fillon — the French Margaret Thatcher?

Often characterised as a French Margaret Thatcher, Fillon is an economic liberal, whereas Le Pen is a protectionist. Fillon wants to remove 500,000 jobs from the French civil service, while Le Pen favours a strong state. Yet, the recent scandal involving Fillon’s wife and the misuse of public funds has put the Frenchman at the centre of a scandal that could seriously jeopardise his candidacy. Indeed, the latest poll from Les Echos has suggested that Fillon will fail to make to the second round of the election on 7 May. Given this hypothesis, the survey puts Macron as Le Pen’s main contender.

Yet, Le Pen has also been on the spotlight after having refused to pay back €339,000 of misused EU funds, the deadline for which was 31 January. An investigation by OLAF, Europe’s anti-fraud watchdog, concluded that the FN leader leveraged her presidential campaign with public money, falsely employing parliamentary assistants in Brussels.

A poll by Kantar Sofres puts Le Pen in the lead (Illustration: Sud Ouest)


Macron could surprise

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron is polling well and beginning to close on Le Pen and Fillon, bringing a dose of extra uncertainty to the electoral result. Naturally, a race to the Élysée doesn’t come without a shower of critics. Le Pen criticised the independent candidate, when he delivered a speech in English during an official visit in Berlin. Moreover, Fillon has accused Macron of being a replica of Hollande, saying that the former economy Minister helped the outgoing president building up his political programme.

As for Mélenchon, the leftist is expected to win only 10% of the vote, according to latest polls.

The blame game is traditional in politics, particularly in times of elections, yet one thing seems certain: both Fillon and Le Pen – the highest polling contenders so far – have been using social media not only to launch their political campaign but also to denigrate their opponents. Macron, Mélenchon and Hamon, on the other hand, have stuck to a more candid campaign focused on what they are promising to achieve.

The race is on. The winner will lead the VI Republic and choose its future direction.

Marta Pacheco

Marta Pacheco studied Political Science and Media & Journalism at the Catholic University of Portugal (UCP). An independent researcher based in Brussels, she has been active in reporting EU and international affairs as a journalist contributor for media outlets in Brussels. Former Blue Book trainee in the European Commission and with a keen interest on politics and global affairs, Marta has been developing her skills and knowledge in the healthcare field, energy & environment and in the financial crisis.

Tagged: ,

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Legal note

1.    Terms and Conditions

2.    Privacy Policy

3.    Cookies Policy


1.    Terms and Conditions

Contact data for the web owner

This website has been created by KATOIKOS to promote their products and services.

– Name: Katoikos, S.L

– Co. tax Code:  B87123162

– Address:  Calle Campomanes 10, 28013  Madrid (SPAIN)

Registration details: Registered in the Commercial Register of Madrid.

Intellectual and Industrial Property

The various elements of this page, and website as a whole, are protected by Spanish legislation on intellectual and industrial property. The trademarks, trade names or logos appearing on this website are the property of the company, or, where appropriate, of third parties, and are protected by Trademarks Law, and of which KATOIKOS holds the legitimate license.

The information provided may not be used for commercial or public purposes, or modified. If the user downloads materials for personal and non-commercial use, warnings shall be kept about copyright and trademarks. To download and use the company logo that appears on the website, prior authorization is required.

Any unauthorised use of the images may violate copyright laws, trademark laws, the laws of privacy and publicity, and communications regulations and statutes.

Liability for Damage

KATOIKOS assumes no liability for damages you may suffer when browsing the web or in the use of computer applications that are part of it. Neither are warranties given as to the correction of malfunctions or updating of content.

Content you share with us

We may include features on this website that allow you to share your content with us and other users of the site. Please note that by sharing content it may become publicly accessible. You grant to Katoikos a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license, without compensation to you:

 (a) to use, reproduce, distribute, adapt (including without limitation edit, modify, translate, and reformat), derive, transmit, display and perform, publicly or otherwise, such content, in any media now known or hereafter developed, for Kaotikos’ business purposes, and

 (b) to sublicense the foregoing rights, through multiple tiers, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law. The foregoing licenses shall survive any termination of your use of the site, as further described below.

For all of the content you share through the site, you represent and warrant that you have all rights necessary for you to grant these licenses, and that such content, and your provision or creation thereof through the site, complies with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations and does not infringe or otherwise violate the copyright, trademark, trade secret, privacy or other intellectual property or other rights of any third party, and is furthermore free from viruses and other malware.

Rules of Conduct

When using this website and/or sharing content with us, you are prohibited from posting or transmitting :

1. any unlawful, threatening, defamatory, racist, obscene, scandalous, deceptive, false, fraudulent, inflammatory or profane material or any material that could constitute or encourage conduct that would be considered a criminal offence, give rise to civil liability, or otherwise violate any law.
2. Any virus, worm, Trojan horse, Easter egg, time bomb, spyware or other computer code, file, or program that is harmful or invasive or may or is intended to damage or hijack the operation of, or to monitor the use of, any hardware, software or equipment;
3. Any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, “junk mail,” “spam,” “chain letter,” “pyramid scheme” or investment opportunity, or any other form of solicitation; and
4. Any material non-public information about a person or a company without the proper authorization to do so.

In addition, you will not:

1. Use this website for any fraudulent or unlawful purpose;
2. Interfere with or disrupt the operation of the website or the servers or networks used to make the website available; or violate any requirements, procedures, policies or regulations of such networks;
3. Access or use this website through any technology or means other than those expressly designated by us.
4. Restrict or inhibit any other person from using this website (including by hacking or defacing any portion of the website);
5. Except as expressly permitted by applicable law, modify, adapt, translate, reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble any portion of this website.
6. Remove any copyright, trademark or other proprietary rights notice from this website.
7. Frame or mirror any part of the webiste without our express prior written consent;
8. Create a database by systematically downloading and storing all or any content;
9. Use any robot, spider, site search/retrieval application or other manual or automatic device to retrieve, index, “scrape,” “data mine” or in any way reproduce or circumvent the navigational structure or presentation of this website, without our express prior written consent.


Kaotikos  reserves the right to remove any messages or statements or cancel any links.

This site may include hyperlinks to other web sites that are not owned or controlled by Katoikos. Katoikos has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, privacy policies, security or practices of any third party websites.

Content may be hosted on YouTube or other social media. Those operate their own set of terms and conditions and privacy policy which are separate to the ones presented on this website. Katoikos no control over and assumes no responsibility for, the content, privacy policies, security or practices on YouTube or other social media.

 The right to terminate your access

Katoikos reserves the right to terminate your access to this website at any time if you do not comply with these Terms and Conditions or you infringe Kaotikos’ rights in the content provided on this website.

Governing Law

These Terms and Conditions are governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Spain, without regard to its choice of law provisions.  You agree to the exclusive jurisdiction by the courts of Spain.

Changes to the Terms

Katoikos reserves the right to make changes to the Terms and Conditions from time to time. You acknowledge and agree that your continued access to or use of this website will constitute your acceptance of such changes.

2.    Privacy Policy

Kaotikos takes the protection of your personal data very seriously and collects, processes and uses your data only in accordance with the standards of the legal data protection regulations.

Data is collected, processed and used with technologyes of the provider web trends for marketing and optimisation purposes and also for sending news and information you may be interested in by any electronic services, such as email or SMS.

Our website user’s database is registered at the Spanish Agency of Data Protection. You have the rights of access, rectification, deletion and opposition, regulated in articles 14 to 16 of the LOPD.

For this, please write to:

KATOIKOS (Data Protection) Calle Campomanes 10, 28013, Madrid (SPAIN)

Or send an email to Your ID will be requested for these issues.

3.    Cookies Policy

This site, like many others, uses small files called cookies to help us customise your experience. Find out more about cookies and how you can control them.

This page contains information on what ‘cookies’ are, the cookies used by the Kaotikos’ website and how to switch cookies off in your browser.

If it does not provide the information you were looking for, or you have any further questions about the use of cookies on the Katoikos’s website, please email

What are ‘cookies’?

‘Cookies’ are small text files that are stored by the browser (for example, Internet Explorer or Safari) on your computer or mobile phone. They allow websites to store things like user preferences. You can think of cookies as providing a ‘memory’ for the website, so that it can recognise you when you come back and respond appropriately.

How does the Katoikos’s website use cookies?

A visit to a page on the Kaotikos’s website may generate the following type of cookies: Anonymous analytics cookies.

This website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc., a Delaware company whose main office is at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View (California), CA 94043, USA (“Google”).

Google Analytics uses “cookies”, which are text files placed on your computer, to help the website analyze how users use the site. The information generated by the cookie about your use of the website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States. Google will use this information on our behalf in order to track your use of the website, compiling reports on website activity and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage. Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google’s behalf. Google will not associate your IP address with any other data held by Google.

Anonymous analytics cookies

Cookier Name Origin Aim End
__utma Google Analysis 2 years since set –up or update
__utmb Google Analysis 30 minutes since set –up or update
__utmc Google Analysis When browser sesión ends
_utmt Google Analysis 10 minutes since set –up or update
__utmz Google Analysis 6 months since set –up or update

How do I turn cookies off?

It is usually possible to stop your browser accepting cookies, or to stop it accepting cookies from a particular website. All modern browsers allow you to change your cookie settings. You can usually find these settings in the ‘options’ or ‘preferences’ menu of your browser. To understand these settings, the following links may be helpful, or you can use the ‘Help’ option in your browser for more details.

Cookie settings in Internet Explorer
Cookie settings in Firefox
Cookie settings in Chrome
Cookie settings in Safari web and iOS.


© 2020 Katoikos, all rights are reserved. Developed by eMutation | New Media

Become a
Being up to date with Europe only takes a few seconds.
Your information will never shared with a third party.
Get our periodical newsletter sent to your inbox!
I have read and agreed the Privacy Policy (required)
Become a
Being up to date with Europe only takes a few seconds.
Get our periodical newsletter sent to your inbox!
Your information will never shared with a third party.
I have read and agreed the Privacy Policy (required)