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International Laws - European Security

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Name: Nguyen Thi Yen Nhi

Class: 4Q15

ID: 1506080098

Subject: European Security

Topic: Analyze the campaign for the French Presidential election: Who are the main competitors for making it to the Second Round of the Presidential election. What would a victory of Marine Le Pen from the Front National mean for the European Integration.You are also strongly encouraged to focus on the historical cooperation between French and German political leaders and its importance for the European Integration process! Which candidate do you think will win the Presidential election and why? (maximum of 2000 words)

The first step is to analyze the two most important candidates besides Marie Le Pen in the race for the French Presidential election. What parties do these candidates represent? The second step is to focus on Marie Le Pen from the Front National. Describe her policy goals and what impacts it would have for European Integration. Use the course textbooks to read about the impact of the French- German bilateral relation on European integration. What is similar or what is different when you compare the current French- German relationship with the historical one? Please be aware that the first round of the French Presidential election will be held on 23rd April with the final Second round following on 7th May.


France is one of the largest and most significant economies in the European Union. As one of the founding members of the EU, France is also a central player in European politics, strongly influencing the region’s economic and social policy decisions. Given its significant weight, a change in the country’s presidency in the 2017 election will no doubt have a strong impact on the euro, influencing whether it continues its long-running weakening trend or whether it stages a reversal toward greater strength in the coming years, especially European integration process. The French Presidential election will be held on the 23rd April and last until 7th May.

The French president is elected directly by the citizens. In the first round, a candidate is elected if he wins an absolute majority of votes. If no candidate has achieved this -what  happened to all presidential elections since 1965 so far, a second round between two candidates will be held, two of whom received the most votes in the first election. The right to vote is any French citizen who is 18 years old on election day and registered on the electoral roll. Being eligible to stand as candidates can prove that there are 500 signatures supported by elected representatives (basically European, state, regional or provincial parliamentarians as well as mayors and elected president of senior bodies).

First of all, it is necessary to summarize some general information about each major candidate as well as their policies if they are elected. It can be started with one of the most potential electors for the presidential position, Emmanuel Macron, a 40-year-old-former economy minister, was one of the main drivers behind the socialist government’s shift toward more pro-business economic policies. Last year 2016, he left the government and started his own political movement called “En Marche” (On the move). He has pitched himself as forward-looking and socially progressive and is running on a free-market, pro-Europe platform. Macron is considered to be the youngest candidate in the history of France and the one having the least political experience. When he finally did go public with his political program, it was ridiculed for being too vague, too general - a charge that has followed him right through to the last days of the campaign. In the economic field, Emmanuel Macron plan to revive the French economy with various reforms and strengthen the country’s European position. His plans for a new growth are an investment plan of €50 billion, a “more just” fiscal policy, and a cut in public spending. He is the only one among the presidential candidates to truly push for deepening European integration; he also supports the idea of a multi-speed Europe, in which the most willing candidates would lead the integrationist approach. The core of his European project is the deeper integration of the Eurozone. Macron proposes creating a Eurozone budget of which the purpose is not only to stimulate future investments within the Euro areas, but also to more effectively react to financial crises. Besides, Macron’s program for employment and social policy is to take aimed at the 35-hour work week, call for flexible retirement ages and allowances for some workers. He is currently leading in the first round with 26 percent of the vote and would make it to the run-up.

The second candidate mentioned is Besides, Francois Fillon, who representatives for the centre-right party, Les Republicans. He has taken the place of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he defeated in the party’s primaries. Fillon is perceived as a centrist, or center-right candidate. Having served as Economy Minister in Sarkozy’s administration, Fillon is familiar with the workings of the country’s finances. During his tenure in government, he gained a reputation for austerity, cutting budgets and government spending. As part of his campaign, Fillon has pledged to reform French and European labor codes with the increase to the 35-hour work week; cut more than €100 billion from the budget while slashing the federal payroll by 500,000 government employees; improve the employment rate and cap unemployment benefits. His plans for employment and social policy are to raise the retirement age to 65 and cut taxes on companies and the wealthy, along with taxes on the middle class over a period of five years. Furthermore, he promises to raise security and defense spending as a response to growing security threats , diminish the size of the state and  institute greater immigration controls. Presently, François Fillon ranks only third in the
polls for the first round, behind Le Pen and Macron.

Last but not at least, an important candidate having huge influence on France recently is Marine Le Pen. She is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of National Front, a a right-wing populist and nationalist  political party in France, an anti-EU and anti- immigration party. Like her father, she is considered to be a hardline nationalist and populist candidate. Marie Le Pen’s campaign slogan is “In the name of the people”.  In her electoral campaign, the far-right candidate is lashing out against the EU and globalization, urges protectionist measures and strict limits on what she calls “massive immigration”. She said that a country needs an independence, one language and one culture essential as human digity within one national community. Her anti-EU stance is underlined by her promise to withdraw France not only from the Eurozone and to introduce a national currency, to end the Schengen agreement and reintroduce border controls, but also eventually hold a referendum on France’s EU membership in order to withdraw the country from the union altogether. In her manifesto, Le Pen promises to strengthen the protective role of the state, shielding French workers and companies from competition. For example, she would no longer apply the EU Posted Workers Directive. She also puts forward several measures to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises, through a reduced “fiscal and administrative complexity” of the labour code as applied to them as well as via lower social security contributions.  To employment and social policy, Le Pen has harshly criticized the labour market reforms under Hollande’s presidency and would scrap the Loi El Khomri. While keeping the 35-hour working week as a general rule, she would allow certain branches to negotiate 37 or 39 working hours a week which would have to be fully paid. She also wants to set the entry to retirement at 60 years or after 40 years of contribution payments. Le Pen further proposes to introduce a “national employment priority”, by which she would introduce “a tax on every new contract with a foreign employee” – which would be incompatible with the EU rules governing the Single Market. Her main strategy against high unemployment is that state intervention in the economy with greater control of policies aimed at stimulating national industry. In addition, she intends to privilege French companies for all public procurement. In terms of tax policy, Le Pen is committed to lowering taxes for low and middle incomes. The tax cuts would target smaller and medium enterprises for which the relevant tax rate would be cut to 24 percent. Similarly, she intends to lower income taxes for the three lowest tax brackets by 10 percent. The expected revenue shortfall would supposedly be offset by savings to the tune of €60 billion over five years. These are to come from lower spending on policies supporting immigration and from renegotiating on payments to the EU budget. Besides, Le Pen has adopted a critical and protectionist stance towards free trade and is strictly against any free trade agreement, including CETA and TTIP. She wants to put in place an “intelligent protectionism” that would protect French companies against dumping. Imports of all goods not conforming to French standards would be prohibited. She also wants to adopt a control mechanism for foreign direct investment into France so as to protect the national interest. It can be said that Marine Le Pen may be a far-right politician in the eyes of people outside France. But Le Pen who also turned the party National Front for the full spirit of xenophobia and racism - the remains of the father Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the party - became moderate and closer to election French voters. This allows her to win a larger electorate and she is having polls in the second position (21,3%) after Emmanuel Macron. (with 23,5%).



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