How Will France Vote in the Second Round?

 How Will France Vote in the Second Round?

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Editor’s Remarks:
For the first time in the Fifth Republic’s 59-year history, France must choose between candidates from outside the mainstream Socialist and Republican parties (though Marine Le Pen has built on years of steady growth in the far-right National Front’s support, and Emmanuel Macron came out of Francois Hollande’s Socialist government and a classic career path through France’s political class). Several major polls put centrist Macron comfortably ahead of his rival, ranging from a 21% lead to a 30% lead depending on the poll. Europe’s financial markets rallied in response, with the euro soaring to its highest level against the dollar in five months and prices in French banks’ shares and French government bonds swelling too. Many have been quick to point to last year’s Brexit and Trump surprises as reason enough to be sceptical of the latest predictions, however. Yet it is difficult to see how Marine Le Pen could make up such a huge deficit even with a significant shy voter effect, and her decision to stand down as the FN’s leader in order to focus on her candidacy could come across as desperate more than it attracts Macron opponents uneasy to cast their vote for a party with an extremist image.

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