Even here in Scotland, French voters were able to cast their ballots at one of three polling stations across the country: Glasgow, Aberdeen and, of course, in the heart of our Capital of Edinburgh at the French Consulate.
As France’s “silence électoral”, a period of reflection before a vote void of polls, rallies or political media coverage, lifted at 7pm local time, there was a lot to digest. France’s far-right has never been closer to taking the presidency.
In the run-off on April 24, two familiar names will go head-to-head: incumbent president Emmanuel Macron and his 2017 rival, Marine Le Pen. Two candidates who will take France on very different paths. Two candidates with very divergent views on Europe.
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In their concession speeches, candidates from across the political divide called on France to shun the far-right. Third-place candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon pleaded with his supporters, who will be decisive in the run-off: “Do not give a single vote to Marine Le Pen.”
As the votes of former powerhouse political parties collapsed further still, their candidates, Anne Hidalgo of the Socialist Party and Valérie Pécresse of the right-of-centre Republicans, warned of the consequences if Le Pen were to take power and withdraw France from the European and international stages.
In Scotland, we are seeing in real-time the consequences of our forced withdrawal from the European Union. One day, Scotland will rejoin. Until then, Europe must see off this existential threat. And I’m confident France and the rest of Europe will indeed see off the threat from populist, Putin-supporting right-wingers like Le Pen.