Why the French dodged a bullet by electing Macron and not LaPen


On May 7, 2017, France dodged a major bullet with the election of Emmanuel Macron, the centrist socialist candidate who worked as an investment banker under Hollande’s administration as the Ministry of the Economy, Industry, and Digital Affairs.
Even though Macron had no experience holding public office, if his opponent, Marine Le Pen, the leader of Front National, would have won, it would signify an enormous loss not just for the French democratic ideals of liberté, égalité, fraternité but of the future of the European Union.
To understand the dangers of a Le Pen presidency, let us backtrack to the formation Front National under Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean Marie Le Pen.
During the creation of the European Union in 1991 (after the Soviet Empire officially fractionalized into multiple nation-states), Le Pen was one of the most outspoken opponents of the Maastricht Treaty, seeing the “free-movement” clause as an impetus for crime and economic instability, and a threat to Europe’s socially cohesive identity.
Even though Marine Le Pen disavowed her father from the party when she became the leader of the Front National in 2011, many of Jean Marie Le Pen’s harsh racialist, demagogic and nativist tones still remains in his daughter’s political rhetoric. For example, like her father, Marine Le Pen sees the European Union as a threat to France’s ethnic identity.
The Le Pen family believes that France should be not apart of the European Union, which would be disastrous as France is one of the leading proponents of European integration after World-War II, but that France should also implement a “national preference” clause that prioritizes employment, housing, welfare, and healthcare benefits to white, French ancestors (Marcus 100-108, 1995).
Even though Le Pen was defeated by Macron by a large portion, we shall not disregard the politically existential threat the Front National still poses on French society.
According to French political analyst from the Observatory of Radical Politics, Jean-Yves Camus, The Front National is not finished [since] We have no reason to believe that the negative impact of globalization will stop during the years to come.
So there might be a drop in the Front National vote, but if the situation is bad in 2022 [at the time of the next presidential election], they could rise again” (Chrisafis 2017).
Not only did Marine Le Pen bring her party (which had been historically ostracized since its creation in 1972), but also she was able to effectively able to the win the hearts of the French working class. Throughout her campaign, Le Pen capitalized on the anxieties of blue-collar workers, using the failures of globalization (particularly within the EU) and immigrants as a scapegoat for many of their economic and sociopolitical problems.
To Le Pen’s supporters, Macron is a machine of the global elites where Le Pen was the “candidate of [the] workers.” Although Le Pen mostly gained support through fear-mongering and xenophobic rhetoric, there is some truth to that evaluation of Macron.
Not only did Macron work at an investment banker at Rothschild & Co, a bank that has received consider criticism for its immense power influencing global politics but he has also worked under the administration of President Hollande, who according to recent statistics has a 4% approval rate. Although Europe had breathed a sigh of relief upon Macron’s victory, Le Pen was still able to receive votes from 45 per cent of blue-collar workers and 38 per cent of unemployed people or youngsters according to a Cevipof statistic (Hond and Leicester 2017). France’s current unemployment rate is at 10 percent while the unemployment rate among the youth is a whopping 23.9 percent (Eurostat, March 2017).
Although Le Pen only received 34% of the electoral vote, but if terrorist attacks in France increase and if Macron implements similar social and economic policies as Hollande, the French people may have more incentive to reject the EU and support global trends tend of populism. In conclusion, Macron may have won the 2017 French presidential elections, but the ideological battle between globalism and nationalism is only on the rise.


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