How divided is France?
A far-right and a liberal candidate will face off in the second round of France's presidential elections. Commentators see the duel between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron as a sign that the traditional divides between the right and the left no longer exist, having been replaced by others.
Macron just the lesser evil
The French only voted for Macron because they felt they had no other alternative, the pro-government daily Yeni Akit concludes:
“According to the people on the street there is no winner; the loser is France. The French people have looked death in the face and chosen disease. The triumph of Macron, who was once economics minister for the ruling Socialist party and left that party to form a centrist movement, is basically a triumph of the media. From now on the election will be a reckoning between the left and the right. While the left is represented by the non-leftist Macron, a right-wing extremist, Le Pen, will represent the right.”
No longer about left and right
France is no longer split into left and right; the divides are of a different nature nowadays, Lietuvos rytas counters:
“We can console ourselves that it could have been worse. Just imagine if it had been Le Pen and Mélenchon in the second round. That would have been a choice between a stroke and a heart attack. … But the separation into left and right is obsolete. It's not that the established parties are experiencing one fiasco after another and it is not the way they reflect the classical political spectrum. The main reason is that society is no longer divided into left and right. Today's divides run between the metropolis and the periphery, between city and countryside, between optimism and disappointment, today and yesterday. Only the devil knows why this wound has started to fester precisely now.”
Inequality is the big issue
The election in France is above all about the redistribution of wealth, eldiario.es believes:
“To present the election as a duel between xenophobic extremists and centrist reformists is a convenient oversimplification for fabricating debates and headlines, but the reality is far more confusing and paradoxical. Many of Le Pen's voters are neither xenophobic nor racist but people who are convinced they're paying the price for a crisis they didn't cause. ... Many of Macron's voters are neither centrists nor reformists. They are people who believe that a decent balance can still be found between globalisation, accumulation and redistribution of wealth. ... Because this is what we are talking about when we talk of politics nowadays: about how to create wealth, whether to distribute it and how it should be distributed.”
The left to blame for right-wing extremism
According to blogger Pitsirikos the left is largely to blame for what is going on in France now:
“The same story is being told there as in other EU countries. It goes: 'Vote for the neoliberal fascists to stop the real fascists from coming to power'. … First large sections of the population are pushed into unemployment, to the brink of despair. Then, once the voters notice that 'Socialists' like Hollande are also neoliberal, they turn to the far right. In reality they don't seek out the far right themselves but are led towards it. Neoliberal politics leads them there. And why don't they turn to the left? Because the left doesn't really exist. In Greece, citizens turned to the left. And all they got was a wild austerity programme. So what does that leave? The far right.”