The second round of French elections will determine which presidential candidate, Pro-European Emmanuel Macron or far-right Marine Le Pen, will govern the country for the next five years. The office is being contested for rather competitively and while opinion polls favour Macron, one cannot say with certainty that he will win and even if he does, it is expected to be with a small margin. Voter disillusionment is clear to see from the initial low voter turnout as both candidates have attracted immense criticism because of their short-sighted policies.

There are a few distinct problems that the people of France need a solution for; rising inflation has led the cost of living to skyrocket. Gas and electricity prices have reached rates that are unaffordable by many and Macron’s policies like cutting housing aid to low earners and abolishing the wealth tax have gained him a reputation of being a president for the rich. Meanwhile, Le Pen has capitalised on these irritants and has directed her campaign towards these issues alone. Just the fact that Macron’s popularity has dropped and Le Pen’s has increased signals to the fact that there are significant portions of the disillusioned citizens that have been swayed. However, the candidate’s extremist far-right policies like restricting immigration and banning headscarves have prevented many from pledging their support to her. In each case, there are bound to be countless protests that will push the new government into a corner, forcing them to let go of their leftist or far-right visions.

Le Pen has successfully banked the votes of those completely disenchanted with Macron’s government and he, in turn, has emphasised the problems that come from an authoritarian right-wing government which stigmatises the Muslims.

It is the faction in the middle—the undecided voters—that will determine the hands in which the reigns fall. One cannot determine whether France will survive the continuation of a pro-business government or the radical shift towards the right but what remains to be clear is that whoever succeeds in securing the five-year term will have their work cut out for them.