While the result of the first round of presidential election in France was quite unpredictable, the runoff on May 7 between the two qualified candidates – centrist, independent pro-EU Emmanuel Macron and anti-immigration, anti-EU Marine Le Pen- is expected, according to polls and most analysts, to propel the 39-year-old former banker and former Economy Minister, who launched his poltiical movement only one year ago, to the Elysée, the French presidential palace for five years.
But is this a finish game ? .
Marine Le Pen has announced that she is temporarily stepping down as head of her extyreme-right National Front party.
The move appears to be a way for her to embrace a wide range of potential voters ahead of the runoff between herself and Emmanuel Macron. Tonight, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I am the presidential candidate," she said on France 2 television.
Le Pen has said in the past that she is not a candidate of her party, and made that point when she rolled out her platform in February, saying the measures she was espousing were not her party's, but her own.
Most analysts expect Macron to win the final ballot, but Le Pen has an actual, if very slim, chance of coming out on top if hardline voters – from the right as well as the left- turn out in droves while disenchanted mainstream voters stay home.
A terror attack, like what happened last week on the Chamops Elysées, in the heart of Paris, could give her a last-minute boost as it allowed her to repeat her campaign rhetoric about banning or limiting immigration and fighting radical islam.
Moreover, some in Paris say that in the next two weeks, everything could change. ‘’Who knows who the Melenchon and Fillon supporters are going to vote for…They could vote for Le Pen?’’, they say in a reference to the candidates who reached the 3d and 4th position in the votes.
In the meantime, Francis Kalifat, head of the Jewish community in France, is relieved but still worried about the decisive round. He has called Le Pen a “candidate of hate” and urged voters to elect Macron regardless of their opinion of his policies just to make sure Le Pen does not become president.
The ‘’republican front” has been used to keep the National Front out of power.
Such a vote is “indispensable”, says Kalifat.
Marine Le Pen Marine kicked out her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen from the party in 2015 following his conviction for inciting racial hatred against Jews and she has ejected several party members for anti-Semitic rhetoric. She tried to woo Jewish voters during the campaign....
But when it comes to the election and the core of her voters, she said earlier this month that France was not responsible for its authorities’ rounding-up of Jews for the Nazis in WWII.... Just to recall that she is the daughter of her father.
When she called for banning the wearing of the kippah in public and making it illegal for the 200,000 French nationals in Israel to also have an Israeli passport, she said these she said were necessary because of the principle of equality in order to facilitate similar limitations on Muslims…..
Even the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar, intervened in the campaign when he warned French Jews that they should leave the country if Marine Le Pen is elected President.
And yesterday, during ceremonies of Yom HaShoah in Jerusalem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also took the opportunity to issue a warning against the rise of extreme right-wing parties in Europe in comments regarded as direct criticism of Marine Le Pen and her party.
Speaking at Kibbutz Lohamei HaGeta’ot, he declared: “Two weeks ago a French presidential candidate denied France’s responsibility for the deportation of its Jewish citizens to the Nazi concentration and death camps. A member of her party denied not only the French involvement in the deportation of Jews to their death, but the mass extermination itself.”
Rivlin said: “As a sovereign state that has gained national independence, we have a duty to demand from other nations and states not to evade responsibility. Denying collaboration with the Nazis seeks to annul the political and moral responsibility that must stand at the heart of memory of the Holocaust for generations to come.”
Next week the two remaining candidates will debate at the television. Will journalists unmask Marine Le Pen ?
The European Union too expressed relief at Sunday’s electoral results. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker even broke the protocol when he congratulated pro-EU Emmanuel Macron and wished him luck in the secnd round. Usually EU leaders avoid commenting on ongoing elections…. But for Juncker, a victory of Macron would mean ‘’good news’’ for Europe which has witnessed a rise of popular parties.