Emmanuel Macron will face Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election runoff on April 24. 

Mabel Berezin is a comparative sociologist at Cornell University whose work explores fascist, nationalist and populist movements in Europe and associated threats to democracy. Berezin says the second round will be close. 

Berezin says:

“At the moment, the race is what analysts assumed would take place – with a few important differences. The first and most obvious is that it will be a tighter race than in 2017. Most importantly, the central political division in France and elsewhere is between the globalists and the nationalists – the ‘somewhere’ people who do not have the options of geographical mobility in pursuit of opportunities and the ‘anywhere’ people who have broad market options. 

“Aside from the fact that this division is now embedded in the political discourse – both Macron and Le Pen invoked it in their acceptance speeches – it is reflected in geographical and demographic voting patterns. Le Pen’s support was solid in the Northeast; the Eastern border and Province – solidifying her traditional strongholds. Macron took everything else – except for a Red Belt around Paris. 

“Macron drew the bulk of his support from voters 60 years old and above. Le Pen and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon split the youth vote. The younger you were, the more likely you were to vote at the political extremes. A probable reason for this demographic divide is that youth are more likely to suffer from economic stagnation and lack of opportunities than those facing retirement. Both Le Pen and Melenchon ran on the economy.

“As France enters the next two weeks, there is still an assumption that Macron will win but with tighter margins than in 2017. But the world has changed since then and so have the factors that determine who votes for which candidate. On April 24, we will see how much it has changed.”