Saturday, April 29, 2017

Macron will likely win in France

Emmanuel Macron - Getty Images
Though the first round seemed to be tightening towards the end, front-runners Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have advanced. The results are as follows:

Emmanuel Macron (On the Move) - 24.01%
Marine Le Pen (National Front) - 21.30%
Francois Fillon (Republicans) - 20.01%
Jean-Luc Melenchon (Unbowed France) - 19.58%
Benoit Hamon (Socialist Party) - 6.36%

It's a historic moment for the French. Neither of the two major parties, the Socialists and the Republicans, made it to the second round. In the case of Benoit Hamon, his problem was the immense baggage that came with being a member of the incumbent party. Francois Hollande's leadership has been weak, the economy is still in the tank, and the Socialist Party has suffered from constant scandals. I hope Bernie Sanders supporters watched what happened in France over the last five years. This is what you get when you elect democratic socialists.

As for my favorite of the five major candidates, Francois Fillon dropped the ball on what should have been an easy race. His problem was that he conducted himself badly in government by giving his wife and children fictitious jobs with fat salaries. Though he did receive a sort of small, last-minute momentum from people who wanted free market reforms and a powerful military (an Ifop-Fiducial poll at the beginning of April showed him at 17%, but just before voting he had climbed to 19.5%), it was not enough. France will have to wait longer to get its Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher.

The French left, dissatisfied with Hamon, decided that going from socialism to communism would make things better (hint: it wouldn't). They quickly rallied to Jean-Luc Melenchon in April. This was mainly because of his rhetorical skills. In truth, his use of holographic imagery to campaign in multiple place at once makes him the most innovative campaigner in recent history. However, you cannot win on charisma alone. That's why he fell short.

That leaves the French with the establishment's choice versus the populist insurgent. Macron was a member of the Socialist Party and part of Hollande's government as an economy minister. Many in the party did not like his centrism, so he pushed out of his office. This led him to create his own political movement called On the Move (En Marche! in French, notice that the name uses his initials).

Macron is still on the left and his reforms, though business-friendly, are nothing compared to what Fillon wanted. Then there's the refugee crisis. He has said that France is just going to have to live with the rise of terrorist attacks occurring in the country. This is a defeatist's strategy to handling the problem. Taking vast numbers of people was seen as humanitarian and was intended to help grow the labor force, but it is important to realize that these are refugees who had no intention of moving to France before ISIS and the Syrian Civil War. There are things in French culture (and western culture in general) that are simply not compatible with Arab culture. This is why so many voters are angry in France.

I do not think Marine Le Pen will win the presidential election. Unlike the election in my country, in which both candidates were generally within the margin of error, Macron's lead is huge. I could be wrong, but I just can't see a massive double-digit dip within less than two weeks. The only problems Macron seems to have is the threat of Russian hackers (which the French have prepared for) and his relationship with his old wife who he met when she was a teacher in his school.

In terms of policy, I think from a refugee standpoint Macron could be negative for France, since he's too status quo, but many of the French people can't see themselves taking as far a right turn as voting for Le Pen. Macron is also good for the United States, by wanting to say in NATO (though like Trump, I imagine the NATO skeptic Le Pen might changed her views after elected). As of now, I think Macron is in good shape to win.

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