Europe holds its Breath: the future of France
He was virtually unknown when, aged only 38, he started his new political party in 2016. “Who is this self-proclaimed political outsider” was the first reaction from rivals. Opinion polls less than five months before the last election placed him a distant third in the Presidential race. But as leader of La République En Marche! he achieved the unthinkable: marching on to capture the Élysée Palace.
Original Macron charge – is it different now?
Emmanuel Macron had charged out of nowhere. He upset the French political equilibrium. He crushed the two mainstream parties that had governed France for decades. And he beat the far-right leader Marine Le Pen to become President of the French Republic in no time at all.
But that’s all in the past now and the race is on again in 2022.
So French voters are showing how grumpy they are. Some say the electorate is always grumpy in France, and the spotlight is back on the cost of living, unemployment, taxes, poor social services, and stagnating salaries. Désamour is being used to describe this general falling out of love and widespread disillusionment with all politicians.
The future of France: How it works — Macron versus Le Pen
To become President, a candidate who wins more than 50% of the popular vote is elected. As no candidate achieved this in the first round, both Macron and Le Pen have gone through to the run-off. They are now both desperate to capture headlines — and votes. But millions of French people, especially the young, no longer want to vote. An unprecedented level of French mistrust in institutions and policies is widespread. Pollsters report that angry voters hardly make any distinction between the candidates. “They’re all corrupt”. Disgust in politicians is running high. “We can’t believe them anymore, so what’s the point in voting
As presidential campaigning started, a vile war broke out in Ukraine. Macron’s stocks went up as he raced around Europe playing the peacemaker. He talked to Putin and other key players. At first, Le Pen slipped behind. But funding wars is easier than stopping them, and nothing came of Macron’s diplomacy.
So, after starting off a good way ahead of Le Pen, she’s caught up with him… she’s:
– softened her far-right image — critics say with a list of wild, unsustainable promises, she’s
– identified herself with hard-up families.
– She’s promising cheaper petrol and higher wages — and to increase taxes on the rich while lowering those on the poor.
But she does have her problems.
Her 2017 campaign was part-financed by a Russian bank, and she’s recently (2022) pulped a million leaflets showing her shaking hands with Mr. Putin.
It won’t be all plain sailing for Macron either. Despite his amazing rise to the Presidency, he remains a divisive figure. He’s a former banker who’s positioned himself as a centrist who understands the problems of the poor. But his first act was a huge tax break for the wealthy. He was soon known as “Président des Riches.”
What’s the least bad option here for the future of France?
Many of France’s 48 million voters — especially those on the left — are asking themselves what the least bad option is. Or would it be better to simply stay at home and ignore both candidates in the decisive second round?
Macron is calling on them to form a barrage against the far right to stop Marine Le Pen from getting into the Élysée. But she’s hoping that her less toxic image will garner some left-wing votes. Incredible as this may seem, a few polls are showing that a slice of defeated leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s votes could turn right.
So the far right is fighting back.
And Le Pen is snapping at Macron’s heels again.
European and other western leaders are looking on in various states of high anxiety, wondering what comes next.
If Le Pen wins, several omelets will need unscrambling.
She doesn’t like:
- the European Union,
- the Euro,
- Muslim women wearing veils, or
- immigrants in general, and
- she thinks the death penalty is OK.
For anyone who cares about the future of France — and Europe — it’s going to be a tense, nail-biting run-up to the final vote count. Don’t hold your breath.
What are your thoughts? Should we run a book on this? Please share your views in the comments below.
1. Macron vs Le Pen 2017 “What’s changed?” via Wikipedia
2. The race is on – first-round publicity via Wikipedia
3. Election poster via Wikipedia
4. Macron meets Putin – at a distance via Wikipedia
5. Le Pen meets Putin – via le Guardian – Photograph: Michael Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin/EPA
6. Marine Le Pen – Can she become President? via wikimedia
7. Ardent Europeanist Emmanuel Macron via Elysee.fr