Can Emmanuel Macron win the French Election? [Jon Henley/Guardian]
[updated with see-also link at bottom]
With French elections now 3 months off (1st round April, 2nd round May), time to give it some attention.
As with the pattern throughout the western world in 2016, both the traditional left (Socialist) and traditional right (UMP/Republican) are looking weak for various reasons. At this moment, the 2-round election of the French system is looking like it will end up with a runoff between nationalist Marine Le Pen, and centrist economic-liberal Emmanuel Macron.
Macron was Hollande’s economic minister – pretty standard pro business, deregulation, pro euro integration (the dreaded fiscal union), and socially moderate. Basically the standard status-quo liberal candidate, but with more charm and less baggage than, say, Hillary Clinton.
A decent looking young guy, Macron has not run for elected office and has not had consistent party affiliations – so he is hoped to be the unifying candidate able to save the French political system from the fate of the US, UK, etc. All polls suggest Macron (as well as Fillon) would beat Le Pen in the second round, but after upsets of 2016 there is concern.
If Le Pen should unexpectedly win, it would probably tip the scales for the character of Europe’s government to nationalism, which I do not want to see at all. That said, there is a reason this is even a possibility, the same reason throughout the west — the Thacher-Reagan-Clinton-Bush-Blair etc train of policy has created too much inequality (continent-wide… due to EU/EMU/global integration, even countries with excellent social support go down with the ship). And on top of that, unwise international choices, and consistently undermining relatively benign socialist or social-democratic political alternatives to deregulationism – leaving only more extremist “alternatives” in an unintentional but very unfortunate (and honestly, very forseeable) elimination process.