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France: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU

France: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU

French Elections: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU

The first round of the French presidential election is now complete, with only two candidates remaining:

Candidate% Vote (Round 1)
Emmanuel Macron23.9%
Marine Le Pen21.4%
François Fillon20.0%
Jean-Luc Mélenchon19.6%
Benoît Hamon6.4%
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan4.7%
Others4.0%

Because no candidate received a majority of votes, there will be a run-off vote on May 7 in which French voters decide between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

While the two candidates are each considered outsiders for different reasons, their key platform differences could not be more stark. The major fundamental issue they disagree on is EU membership – and as a result, French voters potentially hold the fate of the entire EU in their hands.

Head-to-head: Macron vs. Le Pen

Today’s infographic is from Swissquote, and it compares the platforms of Macron and Le Pen head-to-head.

Here are some of the key differences between the two:

Background:
Emmanuel Macron is an investment banker that was the Minister of the Economy for François Hollande’s government. He left in 2016 to start En Marche!, a centrist political movement that describes itself as “neither right nor left”.

Marine Le Pen has been the leader of the National Front since 2011, and is a lawyer by trade. She is the youngest daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, and has worked in politics since 1998. She’s also been a Member of European Parliament since 2004.

European Union:
Macron wants to remain in the European Union and to seek a common asylum policy. Meanwhile, Le Pen wants to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership, while re-instating a national currency.

Economic Policies:
Macron wants to cut government spending to 50% of GDP, to limit the wealth tax to real estate, and to cut the corporate tax rate from 33.3% to 25%.

Le Pen supports re-industrialization of France as well as “intelligent protectionism”. She wants to allow the Banque de France to print money to fund the treasury up to an annual maximum of 5% of total money supply, and also advocates a 10% cut for the lowest income tax brackets.

Security:
Macron wants to stay in the Schengen border-free zone, while Le Pen wants to exit it. Both want to hire new police officers and to add new prison spaces, though Le Pen wants to add higher amounts of each.

Le Pen also wants to cut legal immigration to France to 10,000 per year.

Military:
Both Macron and Le Pen want to re-introduce military conscription for short periods of time. Each wants to increase defense spending, as well: Macron by 2% by 2025, and Le Pen by 3% of GDP by 2022.

Labor:
Both want to keep the 35-hour work week, although with some exceptions. Macron wants to extend unemployment benefits to entrepreneurs, farmers, self-employed, and those who quit jobs voluntarily. He also wants to implement a universal pension system, and to boost training schemes for unemployed youth.

Le Pen advocates the lowering of the retirement age to 60, and for a “purchasing-power bonus” of €1,000 a year for low-wage earners and pensioners. She also wants a national plan for equal pay for women, and for overtime to be tax-free.

Environment:
Macron is opposed to the exploitation of shale gas and offshore drilling, and wants the remaining coal-fired plants in France to be closed.

Le Pen calls for a move to a “zero-carbon” economy, and to ban shale gas exploration, while setting a moratorium on windmills for power generation. Le Pen also would like to ban GMOs.

Education:
Macron says up to 5,000 new teaching jobs should be created. Le Pen wants there to be no free education for children of illegal immigrants, and to restrict the use of foreign languages in schools. She also thinks school uniforms should be mandatory.

Civil Liberties:
Macron supports same-sex marriage, while Le Pen wants to scrap the 2014 law allowing same-sex marriage and to replace it with civil unions.

Macron supports medically assisted procreation for lesbians, but opposes recourse to surrogate mothers by homosexual couples. Le Pen wants to ban surrogacy and to restrict medically-supported procreation to people with sterility problems.

Governance
Both candidates want to introduce some degree of proportional representation to the electoral system, though Le Pen wants to take it further.

Macron wants to cut 120,000 state jobs by not replacing retiring civil servants. Le Pen wants to put French flags on all public buildings, to cut the number of lawmakers in the National Assembly and Senate, and to shrink the size of local governments in half.

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