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France's election reveals a new political divide

11 May 2017

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has announced she will temporarily step down as the leader of the National Front party to focus on her presidential bid.

Ahead of a May 7 runoff against centrist Emmanuel Macron, these are some conclusions that can be drawn by plotting Le Pen's scores in France's "departments" - similar to counties - against government data on key social and economic factors. "This is the first time in the history of the French 5th Republic that neither presidential candidate advancing to the second round comes from a major political party", Jackson shared.

Analysts said Le Pen might find more support amid right-wing voters anxious by security issues and Europe's open borders, who backed either conservative Francois Fillon or nationalist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan in the first round and might balk at backing Macron, a moderate centrist.

Ms Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie, told France Inter radio that he thinks his daughter has been "too laid-back" in her campaign. It confers on me the enormous responsibility of defending the French nation, its unity, its security, its culture, its prosperity and its independence. (On The Move) banner - won 23.75% of votes in the first round, while Ms Le Pen won 21.53%. "Francois Hollande is going to speak against Le Pen and certainly call for voting for Macron", Stephane Le Foll was quoted as saying by the CNews channel. Their positions could not be more polarized, yet it already seems clear that although Le Pen commands a strong following in certain sectors Macron will carry the day on May 7 as much of France are with him. There is a part of the old left, including those who voted for the Trotskyist, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who sympathize with her objections to trade, bankers and worldwide business; there is a part of the old right, including those who voted for François Fillon, who prefer her ostentatious endorsement of "traditional values". Nothing in his programme, she said in her TV interview, suggested he had one iota of love for France; she, by contrast, is the patriot.

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Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

"In staking out the political center, Mr. Lapid has repeatedly compared himself to a fellow former finance minister, Emmanuel Macron", the newspaper wrote.

Another factor that could help her is the broad sense of dissatisfaction with all politicians.

He adds that a Macron victory would signal a "new beginning for Europe", but he says a win by Marine Le Pen would "push Europe deeper into crisis". "Macron asked me how to build a start up nation".

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Sunday's outcome was a huge defeat for the two centre-right and centre-left groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years. In view of political analysts, the European Union cannot afford the shock if France follows the suit of UK.

Mr Macron, a former economy minister, is widely expected to win the run-off vote on 7 May.

German chancellor Angela Merkel wished Mr Macron "all the best for the next two weeks".

She set a new record for her National Front party with almost eight million votes out of 37,003,546 ballots cast.

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The elimination of the Socialist and Republican candidates from the race means this election will be the first one ever in the history of the French Fifth Republic from which the leading parties of both the left and the right are absent.

France's election reveals a new political divide