And just like that, everyone is talking about France and whether this is going to be a “Brexit/Trump moment”.

The first round of the French presidential election takes place on Sunday, and a formality that could only have been of domestic interest is suddenly creating huge buzz. That’s thanks to a series of surveys that suggest the far-right standard bearer for more than a decade, the Marine Le Pen, could score a staggering victory over the incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

With the help of HuffPost France’s political correspondent roman hererosHere’s everything you need to know about the vote to determine who drives one of Europe’s biggest economic and military powers as war rages on the continent.

The Basics: What’s Up?

The French presidential election is to be held in two rounds on 10 and 24 April. Voting has been pointing up for weeks in a row long sign on english vowel add on from the first round Pen, both qualify for a run-off. That would mean a repeat of the 2017 election in which Macron won comfortably (66% to 34%). But this time it is going to be much closer. According to some surveys, have a pen The margin narrowed enough to be within margin of error for the win.

There are 12 official candidates. Outside Macron and Le Pen, names notable in an election where radical positions have set the tone are right-right-turned-candidate Eric Zemour and veteran leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon. While it is unlikely that either will make the final cut, their voters’ second choice could be crucial in a narrow run-off.

Le Pen’s victory would trigger a worldwide shock wave, at least given the West’s united front against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Having someone who has shown sympathy for Vladimir Putin to deal with the fallout would be less than ideal. And make no mistake of France’s importance: Brexit upended its status as the EU’s main military power and, with the exit of Angela Merkel as German chancellor, Macron has taken on a more prominent role. in Europe.

Marine Le Pen and Image Variation

The 53-year-old leader of a national rally long known for its anti-Semitism, Nazi nostalgia and anti-immigrant bigotry is running for the third time. The name “Le Pen” is notorious in France thanks to her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was the firebrand leader of the same party when it was the National Front.

Since the 2017 defeat, Pen Has worked to soften its image – emphasizing its love of cats, among other things – and changed the name of the party. He has attempted to appear as a potential Rather than anti-radical anti-system. His campaign has focused on cost of living concerns – amid a steep rise in energy prices and rising inflation – and the candidacy of Zemour, who is even further on the right. Penhas also helped His look more delicious to voters.

Herreros says many felt that another far-right candidate would reduce Le Pen’s chance to split their vote. “But, in reality, Zamour was too harsh, too radical. So Le Pen seemed softer. People are less afraid of him than Zamour. When we look at elections, we see.”

Below, the poll aggregator shows how Macron’s lead on Le Pen has narrowed in recent days. Check here for latest updates.

With Le Pen's breath down Macron's neck, is France about to have its own Brexit?

This partly explains why the reference is not to 2016. “The last election was just a year after Brexit and the election of Trump, so we were in a populist moment,” Herreros says of Macron coming to power in 2017. “Now we have seen that Brexit was not what the British people expected, and we have seen (Brazil’s populist president) Bolsonaro a nightmare in Brazil. But Le Pen is not playing a populist role – she says she is Bar doesn’t want to leave the euro, that she isn’t as extreme as Zimour. ‘Trust me, I’m not bad’.”

But, make no mistake, the core of his party’s program hasn’t changed. “That’s still a long way off,” Herreros explains. “She’s proposing the same thing on immigration as Zamour, but with different wording. It’s just a different package.”

She would abolish many welfare benefits for foreigners, prevent family reunification, give preference to the French for jobs and social housing, ban the hijab in public places and drive unemployed foreigners out of France.

Eric Zeymore, not exactly French Trump

The initial passion among the chattering classes was the rise of Zemour and his fledgling Reconquest! Team. A TV pundit who projects himself as a Donald Trump figure and patriarch of old France has proposed an airplane-equipped “migration” ministry to expedite the expulsion of what he says is an unwanted migrant. to bring.

Zemour is known as the “Great Replacement” white nationalist conspiracy theory, which argues that France and the West are being persecuted by immigrants and other people of color – especially Muslims.

Reflecting on Le Pen’s superficial changes, a group of his officers and supporters leave for Zemour. The only one Le Pen spared criticism is his niece, Marion Maréchal, a former politician who has returned to the front lines to help Zémour.

Perhaps most worrying is the fact that the two far-right candidates together are garnering more support than the centrist president. In a scenario where Le Pen inherits about 80% of Zémour’s votes in the second round — not an unreasonable prospect, analysts say — it puts him “closer to victory,” Herreros says.

Macros gone?

For Macron, Le Pen is the candidate to be defeated, and his camp is openly concerned about an “accidental” victory for Le Pen – perhaps if liberal voters fail to come to the polls.

The 44-year-old former investment banker, elected in 2017 to his centrist La République en Marche with little political experience, has seen his pristine reputation dented by The Yellow West protests and imposition of coronavirus restrictions.

His election campaign has been disrupted by the war in Ukraine, with Macron delaying his pitch to the country because of France’s central role in the West’s response. While absence from the campaign trail has its problems, wartime leadership has allowed him to deal with the bigger issues facing the world (see unusual photos of him, tired and unbearded) working nights and weekends at the Elysee castle. , appearing in jeans) and a hoodie). It may have helped boost early voting, but it seems to have fallen short.

<strong>Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will face each other for the second consecutive presidential election.</strong>” width=”720″ height=”478″ src=”https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/62505462210000befb505af1.jpg?cache=oL8QScXZCG&ops=scalefit_720_noupscale”/></picture></div>
<div class=
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are facing each other for the second consecutive presidential election.

Herreros points out that Macron is popular for this phase of his presidency – more so than predecessors François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy – but he has been untenable by two factors. “He went too late in the campaign,” Herreros says. “When Putin was attacking Ukraine, it was difficult for him to say ‘Hey, I’m the candidate.’

He even tied himself to Le Pen, thinking that France would never actually bring him to power. “He always thought he would automatically be re-elected against Marine Le Pen. During his presidency he ‘blinked’ to right-wing voters, some of his ministers spoke in a way that Le Pen could use Now people are saying that you played with fire, now we have got the result of what you did.

then what will happen?

Neck-and-neck voting doesn’t tell the whole story, says Hereros. A low turnout could ruin all pre-election hopes because Le Pen is heavily dependent on the working class vote to come to support. Le Pen’s party is still reeling from his party’s failure in last summer’s regional vote, with only 33% of voters voting for it in the first round.

There may also be a moment of clarity. “In France, when the far-right are close to power, people wake up,” Herreros says. “And they lose every time.”

In 2015, Le Pen, who was on the verge of winning the northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardy, lost in the second round, and his aforementioned niece, was considered one of the party’s best hopes in the regional elections. , also lost in southern Provence-Alpes-Cte d’Azur.

“They lost,” Herreros says. “But who knows how voters will react? Le Pen would say, ‘Macron is the system, vote for me. You are from the left and don’t like macros, vote for me. This is what we saw with Brexit. Maybe people will think… let’s try.”