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Hullabaloo


Monday, April 24, 2017

 

Macron and Le Pen in runoff

by Tom Sullivan


Emmanuel Macron took the top spot in first round of French presidential voting Sunday.

Voters in France Sunday were of a mood to turn out mainstream politicians, CNN reports:

Voters in France have comprehensively snubbed the country's political establishment, sending far-right populist Marine Le Pen and political novice Emmanuel Macron through to the second round of the country's presidential election, early results indicate.

With 96% of polling stations declared, newcomer Macron was leading the field with 23.7%. National Front leader Le Pen was close behind on 21.8%.

The result upended traditional French politics: Neither candidate hails from the establishment parties that have dominated the country for decades.
It was as if Ross Perot defeated incumbent president George H.W. Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton in 1992, said French political scientist Olivier Duhamel.

The results Sunday night for once vindicated pollsters who correctly predicted this outcome. France now heads into "uncharted territory,"
... because whoever wins on May 7 cannot count on the backing of France's political mainstream parties. Even under a constitution that concentrates power in the president's hands, both Macron and Le Pen will need legislators in parliament to pass laws and implement much of their programs.
Those hoping to see extremist Le Pen defeated still have their chance. She is the underdog in the runoff. Defeated conservative candidate François Fillon who drew 20 percent of the vote called on his supporters to rally behind Macron the centrist and against Le Pen:
"Extremism can only bring unhappiness and division to France," defeated conservative candidate Francois Fillon said. "As such, there is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right."

The selection of Le Pen and Macron presents voters with the starkest possible choice between two diametrically opposed visions of the EU's future and France's place in it. It sets up a battle between Macron's optimistic vision of a tolerant France and a united Europe with open borders against Le Pen's darker, inward-looking "French-first" platform that calls for closed borders, tougher security, less immigration and dropping the shared euro currency to return to the French franc.
In the last days of her campaign, Le Pen touched on themes Trump supporters would find familiar, promising to immediately suspend all legal immigration until France, to use Trump's formulation, can figure out what's going on.

So the investment banker who has never run for office is set up to rescue France from the far-right nationalist called an "enemy of the Republic" by the Socialist Party's Benoît Hamon (fifth place).

For American voters, this exchange with Macron supporters brings back uncomfortable memories from last November: Should Macron win on May 7, France will preserve its open borders while an American political novice, Donald Trump, squanders tax dollars on a new Maginot Line.