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Another domino stays upright (2)

07/05/2017

Two weeks after the first round of the French presidential elections, Marine Le Pen has gained barely 35% of the national vote against her middle-of-the-road opponent Emmanuel Macron, who will now be France’s president for the next five years.

The more pessimistic predictions were that Le Pen would come closer to 40% of the total, or even more, pulling in votes from supporters of both Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s likewise anti-globalist but left-wing La France insoumise (‘Unbowed France’) and François Fillon’s right-of-centre party,  and that abstentions on both sides would give her the margin she needed.

Instead, just as in Holland two months ago, the populist candidate has failed to break through – and another domino that was predicted to fall has stayed upright.

Various factors seem to have played a part in this perhaps surprising result. In a last-minute television debate with her opponent, Ms Le Pen came across as a mud-slinging populist who was little better than her openly fascist father, with few clear ideas about how to run the country she claimed to defend with her rabble-rousing slogan Choisir la France (‘Choose France’), a frighteningly un-European echo of Donald Trump’s America first. Her pre-election visit to Russia’s no less rabble-rousing president Vladimir Putin cannot have helped, since Putin, like Turkey’s president Erdoğan, is now seen in much of Western Europe as a disruptively antidemocratic influence. Would a France run by Le Pen have sought a rapprochement with Russia? Whatever her ‘France-first’ supporters were looking for, this was surely not it.

Whether a France run by Macron will make more sense to the French people remains to be seen – but today two thirds of them chose this clearly pro-EU candidate rather than his no less clearly anti-EU opponent.

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From → Media, Politics

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