Three of the top four contenders in the French presidential election on Sunday come from outside the country’s two major political parties. The Socialists’ Benoît Hamon isn’t even in contention anymore while the Republicans’ François Fillon may not qualify for the runoff in May.
The frontrunner, Emmanuel Macron, left the Socialist Party last year to start his own progressive movement.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen lead the far left and the far right, respectively, which have so far played a minor role in French politics.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s late surge in the French presidential election has invited comparison with the unexpected success of Bernie Sanders in last year’s Democratic primary in the United States.
The comparison is not altogether off in the sense that Mélenchon’s rise is largely due to the unpopularity of technocratic socialism under the incumbent president, François Hollande. Sanders’ candidacy similarly reflected a disillusionment in the centrist incrementalism of Hillary Clinton.
Their presidential elections used to be a battle for the center between the mainstream left and the mainstream right. Now there are five candidates with a reasonable chance of qualifying for the second voting round in May, including a big-government socialist, a small-government conservative, a nationalist of the left and a nationalist of the right.
Our sympathies lie with the fifth man in the middle: Emmanuel Macron. Comfortable with neither the statist inclinations of the Socialist Party nor the social conservatism of the Republicans, he launched his own progressive movement last year for the rejuvenation of France. It represents the best alternative to the anti-globalism of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen. Read more “Elect Macron to Move France Forward”
Former French prime minister Manuel Valls has thrown his support behind the presidential candidacy of Emmanuel Macron, his former economy minister.
“I don’t think we should take any risk for the republic and so I will vote for Emmanuel Macron,” the Spanish-born social democrat said.
Valls sought the presidential nomination of his own Socialist Party but was defeated in January by the far-left Benoît Hamon. His center-left policies are closer to Macron’s, who served together with Valls in François Hollande’s government for two years. The two men cut taxes for employers and loosened labor laws. Read more “Macron Wins Support of Former French Prime Minister Valls”
And why is it so critical? Nothing less than the European Union is at stake — and with it, the geopolitical contract that has bound Germany and France together since World War II.
After the defeat of anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders early this month in the Netherlands, it is reasonable to ask if populism as shaped by the alt-right has hit its limit. Europeans have watched the confusion in Britain over Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump. Now they are revisiting both their Euroskepticism and their willingness to gamble on ideologies not yet fully tested.
Yet France is subject to powerful forces quite different than the Netherlands, which has only a fraction of its population and international obligations. A large, unassimilated Muslim and African population simmers; an aging, conservative voter base roils; a discredited, weakened left wavers; and nobody knows what to do with the neoliberal threads that hold together the European Union yet impoverish just about anyone not in the upper classes. Read more “The Forces Shaping the French Election: Populism, Pride and Prejudice”