Macron v Le Pen: France’s two tribes face off

Showdown: The winner will replace François Hollande, who did not take part in this election.

France will elect a new president on May 7th. Emmanuel Macron, who wants an open France, is expected to beat Marine Le Pen, whose attitude is more closed. Is this a sign of something bigger?

The first round of France’s election is over. Emmanuel Macron has finished first and Marine Le Pen second. They will face each other in May’s run-off. The one with more than half the votes will become president.

Macron likes the EU and the euro. He says he will “rebuild the European dream”. He wants businesses to pay less tax. He wants to make it easier to work longer hours. He wants to keep welcoming immigrants into France.

Le Pen wants to take France out of the EU and euro. She says workers should retire at 60 and keep a strict 35-hour week. She wants less immigration into France.

Macron is an optimist. Last night he said he wanted to carry the “voice of hope for our country and Europe”. Le Pen thinks France is doing badly. She said she would “free French people” from those in charge.

Lots of successful people in towns support Macron. Workers in northern France and middle class people in the south are more likely to vote for Le Pen.

In 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU and Donald Trump became US president. Le Pen agreed with a lot of the ideas behind these movements. Some said it was a sign, and she would win too.

But last night’s polls suggest Macron will win easily. He became the heavy favourite. Most of the losing candidates yesterday asked voters to elect Macron. Is this a sign that things are changing?

Le Pen is mightier?

Yes, say some. Le Pen will lose by a long way, like her father in 2002. Macron is fresh and young. He will make France feel good about itself again. And politicians around the world will learn from him.

Not at all, others reply. Le Pen will do well in the second round. She is just 48, so she will stand for president again. Macron’s policies will fail. And France is divided by terrorist attacks and riots. Soon enough people will agree with Le Pen.

You Decide

  1. Would you vote for Emmanuel Macron?


  1. Work in pairs. You are in charge of a debate between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen this week. Write down 10 questions you would ask them and explain your choices.

Some People Say...

“Election results depend more on people’s mood than what politicians believe.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Macron will face Le Pen on Sunday May 7th. Whoever gets more than 50% of the vote will become president. Lots of polls said Le Pen would finish top in the first round, but yesterday Macron finished slightly ahead of her.
What do we not know?
What the final result will be, and what it will mean for the future of France and the world.

Word Watch

The European Union, a group of 28 countries who work together on questions of policy.
The currency (type of money) used in 19 of the EU countries.
The latest survey by Ipsos says Macron will get 62% of the vote and Le Pen 38%.
Benoît Hamon and François Fillon asked people to vote for Macron. But the extreme left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon refused to do so.
In 2002 Marine Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie, creator of the party she leads, came second in the first round. He was heavily beaten by Jacques Chirac in the second round.

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