TThe French presidential elections, scheduled for April 2022, are less than a year away. Although outgoing President Emmanuel Macron is in the lead, that does not guarantee that he will have an easy chance of winning reelection in the second round next year. Although the opposition has yet to recover from the defeat suffered in 2017 when Macron shattered the political establishment, Marine Le Pen, a far-right leader who was Macron’s most powerful challenger, is now in the process of breaking down the political establishment. to vote well. The French have also shown in the last two elections that being the outgoing president is not always advantageous for a candidate.
President Macron will face a lot of pressure to keep his seat at the Elysee Palace due to the coronavirus crisis and the recent resurgence of Islamist fundamentalism. Even after winning, President Macron is expected to prove himself by taking on various responsibilities, such as getting the vaccination campaign back on track, as France’s vaccination efforts have started badly compared to other EU countries, and if the French government under Macron administration is unable to fight the coronavirus crisis, discontent will inevitably mount against the Macron administration.
Another major obstacle to maintaining the presidency is doing well in the upcoming regional elections in June. The elections, which will determine the leaders of the 26 regions of France, will be a decisive moment in politics one year before the presidential election. President Macron’s party, which was created from scratch in 2017, did not do well in the recent local and mayoral elections, where its opponents had a strong party structure.
Beyond these two challenges, the current French president should revive the economy. The French economy has declined dramatically, affecting many industries due to the ongoing pandemic, and unemployment has increased dramatically. Macron’s popularity is said to be influenced by the success of his government’s revival strategy in tackling the crisis. Besides these hurdles, the Macron administration may face tensions over the security bill, the battle against radical Islam, social unrest after nearly a year of back-to-back lockdowns and bleak economic prospects, or the emergence of an anti-system candidate outside the conventional political ranks.
The battle against radical Islam is an easy goal for the French president as well as for his rival Marine Le Pen, as this delicate issue would strengthen their voting banks by enlisting help from the far-right French population after a flood of terrible assaults in the fall. . President Macron is ready to miss this plan to strengthen his aid base among French residents by intentionally focusing on revolutionary Islam. After an unexpected spike in fear-mongering assaults in the fall, President Macron has vowed to fight psychological oppression and revolutionary Islam with restored power, which is an important decent procedure for winning the party’s help. dominant, which will ultimately give him the triumph in the country. imminent official decisions.
The National Assembly of France recently adopted a bill entitled “Supporting respect for the principles of the Republic”, which aims to improve government surveillance of mosques and religious schools, a crackdown on polygamy and forced marriages and other measures aimed at combating Islamic radicalism. The bill has long been part of Emmanuel Macron’s broader counter-extremism agenda, which gained new urgency following a spate of terrorist attacks in the fall of last year in during which a French teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded by radical Islamists for showing cartoons of The Prophet Mohammed and three people were killed in a knife attack in the basilica in Nice.
President Macron says efforts are also needed to defend French ideals such as gender equality and secularism against the encroachment on fundamentalism. However, the majority of French Muslims believe that there are already enough laws in place to fight terrorism and that the proposed legislation restricts their religious freedom and unfairly targets their religion. These bills can be interpreted as a political maneuver to gain support from conservative and far-right voters ahead of next year’s presidential election.
A difficult challenge
Despite losing two elections, Marine Le Pen, a longtime far-right opponent of President Macron, has never looked away from the presidency. Ms Marine is causing a sensation in the polls ahead of next year’s presidential election, and she has never been closer to seizing power in France than she is now. Even though she has kept a low profile in recent months, she has reason to be optimistic due to the divisive-rule tactics she used to gain the support of the far-right electorate, which constitutes the majority. Population.
Since the French government has occupied much of the political room due to the coronavirus crisis, Le Pen has struggled to find a voice in recent months. Despite this, early polls show that she not only participated in the 2022 runoff election against President Emmanuel Macron, but also secured a larger share of the vote than ever before. The strategy of combating radical Islam has served him extremely well, but it also raised the level of rivalry in the 2022 election. However, this can be seen as a drawback for President Macron and his supporters, who are wary of now the tactical vote that has always served to keep Ms. Marine out of power.
Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin accused Marine Le Pen of being lenient towards radical Islam when she was a far-right leader. The statement explicitly aims to portray the government as harsher on Islamic extremism than the far-right leader. In response to this claim, Le Pen criticized the bill as being too weak and according to Jordan Bardella, vice-president of the National Rally, the legislation does not mention either the Muslim name or Islam and thus loses its purpose because it does not not very successful in directly combating radical Islamist ideology. As a result, fighting radical Islam has become a soft target for broadening support in the upcoming elections, as religion has always been a controversial topic in politics, and President Macron and Ms Marine Le Pen use the same divisive strategy to to reign. , and it will be interesting to see who can win this second round on religious issues.
Aditya Mishra received his Masters and BA from Amity University and Delhi University respectively. The opinions and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
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