Single Status Update
Some thoughts on the election in France.
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen managed to secure the most votes and get to the final round of voting. One of these two people will become the next president of France. That means that it could be the extreme right-wing candidate Le Pen that wins in the final round – thus echoing the result of the US election in which Trump, an incompetent racist buffoon with no political or governing experience, managed to beat all the odds (and polls) and become president and commander-in-chief.
But I really doubt that will happen in France, and not just because all the polls show that the fascist party Front National is unlikely to win. Because despite all the recent ISIS attacks in France, Le Pen and her brown shirts only managed to get a meagre five percent of the vote in Paris. That brings me hope that the honest people of France are strong enough to dismiss Le Pen in the final round. And yet, a fascist managed to get to the second round. A few years back that would be unthinkable, but today it’s the new “normal”. The world truly is a crazy and scary place today.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the left made a truly historical and amazing election campaign. Mélenchon’s surge from nowhere was astonishing and I’m sure his campaign will inspire other leftists around Europe. In the end Mélenchon managed to secure nearly 20 percent of the votes. That is truly amazing in a historically conservative country like France where the “radical left” hasn’t done that good in an election since the late 1960’s. Despite this, Mélenchon’s surge was unfortunately insufficient to beat Le Pen. Much of this, I believe, could be blamed on Benoit Hamon’s voters who did not care or realise that Hamon was a lost cause and therefore failed to tactically vote for Mélenchon. If they had, Le Pen would probably not have been able to get to the second round.
The election also shows that the collapse of centrist social democratic parties and the rise of the extreme far-right continues unabated in Europe. In France, for the social democrats, that should come to no surprise. Their catastrophic election result is mainly their own doing. Partly because of sheer incompetence during their time in power, but also, and more importantly in my opinion, is that they won the previous elections on economic left-wing politics which they then completely failed (unwillingly or not) to materialise. We can see the same social democratic failure around Europe.
Another one that did not make it to the second round was Francois Fillon. This failure is probably because Fillon and the right devoted their election campaign to approach and mimic Le Pen's political ideas and policies. On election day, many of his voters clearly rejected this tactic and many others decided to vote for the original instead of the copy. This is a lesson for other right-wing parties around Europe that are contemplating how to deal with the rising far-right parties in their own countries.
Emmanuel Macron will probably become the next president. But the danger here is that the populist policies and proposals in his election manifesto could be hard to finance. If Macron fails to live up to his promises he might just make a Le Pen victory that much more likely in the next election.