Measure for Measureby Ana Pouvreau , Mark Porter / May 5, 2017 / Leave a comment
Terrorism is a key factor in Sunday’s final round of the French presidential election. How the T word is handled by centrist Emmanuel Macron and the National Front candidate Marine Le Pen could decide who next occupies the Elysée Palace. Both are offering radical solutions in the hope that they will counterbalance the other hitherto negative aspects of their electoral programmes.
The fact that neither belongs to the two parties who have ruled since 1958, and that Macron’s En Marche! party is less than a year old, seems to have encouraged a disillusioned French electorate desperate for change. Between them they polled 45 per cent of the votes in the first round, with another 40 per cent going to the conservative candidate François Fillon, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the hard left.
On the domestic front Macron promises 10,000 more policemen and gendarmes over the next five years, while Le Pen has trumped him by promising 15,000. Macron will focus on fighting Islamic State outside France’s borders and will maintain the current levels of military personnel, while Le Pen pledges 50,000 more. Macron has announced a new roadmap for Syria using the experience gleaned from France’s intense involvement in the conflict since September 2015. He will also focus on the situation in Libya and on the Sahel-Saharan strip, where French troops have been trying to oust Islamic militants in recent years. His first visit abroad, if he is elected President next Sunday, will be a visit to the troops.
Le Pen has pledged to end free movement within the EU, reinstate state borders and quit the Schengen Agreement, which she considers an open door for migrants and criminals. If elected she will expel foreigners currently under surveillance. She has called for the closing of 120 Salafist mosques and other venues associated with radical Islam already identified by the Interior Ministry. She also calls for the 2004 law banning headscarves and other “ostentatious” religious symbols from the nation’s classrooms to be extended to all public spaces, including the streets. Only religious workers such as nuns, imams and rabbis would be exempt. She also plans to prohibit foreign funding of the construction of religious buildings, and of the staff occupying them.