Monday 24th April
The French Presidential Election is in two rounds, unless very exceptionally one candidate wins 50% of the vote, and considering that there were 11 candidates on the ballot paper, that would be very unusual. But nevertheless a Political Revolution has occurred. The two main parties which have ruled France for over 50 years, in fact since the creation by General de Gaulle of the Fifth Republic, are not in the run-off, round two will be fought by Marine Le Pen of the Front National and Emmanuel Macron of ‘En Marche’, not even a political party but a Centrist movement created only a year ago.
Thank Goodness that, although quite close there was not a choice between Le Pen and either Fillon, a very Conservative almost Thatcherite, or Melenchon, a Socialist of the Hard left, in fact far more left-wing than even Labour is now back in the U.K. Either may have handed eventual victory to Le pen. And despite predictions that Le Pen would ride the crest of the Populist wave which brought us Brexit and Trump, she has fallen far short of most people’s expectations. In fact she needed to be seen as a winner, and a good winner, getting around 35% to make that leap forward to win the second round. She actually got around 22% and came second to another but quite different Populist, Macron.
Macron in fact represents what an awful lot of people have been asking for for years, a leader who will try to run the country with the best from both Left and Right. Part of the problem all around the Western World had been party politics; too many good people have fallen foul of the Leaders of parties, which have maybe changed course or fallen victim to factional fighting. What Macron has shown is that it is possible to win without the backing of an established party. Maybe we are seeing the re-alignment of old politics, no longer will people vote for a party just because they always have; maybe we will see the emergence of far more independently-minded individuals. Who knows, it is all to play for.
And already the defeated Socialist and Repulicans have endorsed Macrom against Le Pen, whose dog-whistle patriotism is actually even more racist than UKIP was in England. Bring on round 2…