French Elections: Macron in ’17, Le Pen in ’22?

Should Macron stumble badly in office, then Le Pen in 2022 would be well-positioned at the natural opponent to Macron in her third bid for the presidency. By then, depending on the economic conditions in France and Europe her promises to take France out of the European Union and expel all illegal immigrants may not seem so outlandish.

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By John Gizzi l May 1, 2017

It has been just a week since the primary election in France in which Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen placed one and two respectively, and thus are in the run-off for president May 7.

As the duo prepare for their only televised debate Wednesday evening (May 3), all signs point to a fairly strong win for first-time candidate Macron. Most polls show the centrist hopeful—a former Rothschild banker who served less than two years as economy minister under retiring President Francois Hollande—beating the fiery nationalist Le Pen by a margin of 3-to-2.

But what many observers of the most-internationally-watched French election in 36 years fail to mention or even notice is what happens next: that with a “President Macron” in the Elysee Palace, Le Pen—age 48, a vigorous foe of the European Union and illegal immigration—would almost surely emerge as the face of the loyal opposition for the next five years.

Should Macron stumble badly in office, then Le Pen in 2022 would be well-positioned as the natural opponent to Macron in her third bid for the presidency. By then, depending on the economic conditions in France and Europe her promises to take France out of the European Union and expel all illegal immigrants may not seem so outlandish.

The prospect of Le Pen as the premier opposition leader to a “President Macron” is very likely because of a fact little reported internationally. In putting Macron and Le Pen in the final round, French voters almost effectively destroyed their country’s two major parties.

Now called “The Republicans” the center-right party of past Presidents Jacque Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy barely placed third with 19 percent of the vote. Moreover, the Socialist Party of Hollande and the late (and revered) President Francois Mitterrand drew an anemic 10 percent.

Both parties are now holding “autopsies” on their presidential performances and vow to come back. But given their showings and the current French revulsion with traditional politicians, this is unlikely.

The other argument for an enhanced standing by Le Pen over the next five years is Macron himself. A vigorous Europeanist, he has called for vague “reforms” in fiscal and labor policy and then seeking Germany’s cooperation to create a “pro-growth movement.” He speaks of reforming France’s large state bureaucracy and yet is a product of the elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration that supplies much of the current French political establishment.

Macron’s new “En Marche!” (Forward!) group is not a party but a movement that, by all accounts, is disorganized. It is almost out of the question that in the elections for the National Assembly (parliament) that follow the presidential election, “En Marche!” will be anywhere near a majority. This means that a “President Macron” will be forced to barter, bargain and compromise with the traditional politicians in the Assembly that he differed from as a candidate.

“I get the sense Mr. Macron may just get blown away by the first crisis that comes along,” Wolfgang Munchau wrote in the “FT” recently, “I hope I am wrong, because the alternatives in France are dire.”

It doesn’t take long to guess to whom he was referring.


John Gizzi is the White House correspondent and chief political columnist for Newsmax. He is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the conservative-online-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research..