I’m inspired by the French vote for liberalism over extremism, protectionism & racism.
As I was away on holidays last week I didn’t get a chance to write about Emmanuel Macron’s impressive victory in last Sunday’s presidential elections. Despite fears many had that Le Pen would hoover up considerable support from disgruntled French voters, the 39-year old centrist won 66% of the vote.
Mind you, Le Pen still managed to get the highest vote so far for a far-right presidential candidate. And as I’ve said in a previous posting, the reasons behind people’s growing support for Le Pen won’t disappear once Macron takes office on Sunday. It’s hard to see how his policies will properly tackle the deep-seated discontent in France that echoes the same anger that led to Trump’s win in the US and Brexit in the UK.
But I’m not going to get into a deep political analysis of the French political state of play today because this blog is about what’s inspiring me this week. And it’s the fact that so many French voters opted for a candidate espousing liberalism and openness over one advocating a mean mix of protectionism, nativism, Euroscepticism and xenophobia.
Last Sunday the French turned their backs on the nasty populism that’s been spreading through Europe and the United States like a noxious virus. For the moment the tide of intolerance has receded. But that’s not to say it won’t rear its ugly head again soon. Right now Macron is the man of the moment and Le Pen is back in her box. He’s an appealing breath of fresh air not to mention his super-cool wife who at 64 could be an inspirational icon for women looking for more mature female role-models with a bit of experience under their belts.
But I have to also admit that my admiration for French common sense displayed last Sunday, is tempered with scepticism about Macron’s ability to deliver on his election promises. It’s easy to appeal when you’ve never really been tested in office. And he won’t have much of a honeymoon with French parliamentary elections around the corner. Macron could end up being a bit of a damp squib with his promised reforms scuppered by a hostile parliament.
He’s already under pressure with his party la REM (La République en March) struggling to get enough candidates to contest the 576 out of the 577 political constituencies in next month’s assembly elections. If he fails to elect enough candidates, he’ll find it difficult to garner strong support to push through his reforms. And if ends up stumbling through an emasculated presidency, then Marine Le Pen will be ready to pounce on the inevitable wave of disappointment and anger that will come with such a failure.
So, many more chapters to unfold in this story.
In the meantime, “vive La France!”