If I was British, I would vote resolutely ‘remain’ because it’s in the U.K.’s interest
- Emmanuel Macron
If Marine Le Pen feared something worrisome in a run off, it could not have been any worse than this. A dashing 39-year-old centralist, a la Bill Clinton with a proven track record is the last thing the far right wing Le Pen would have wanted as her rival at the second round of the French presidential elections on May 7.
The run off no doubt will sharply polarize the nation as never before. The suave, sophisticated third way politician Emmanuel Macron is everything that Le Pen, who cloaked herself in ‘soft’ nationalist garb for polls, is not.
However there’s no denying the fact that the Nationalist Party candidate has virtually pulled a coup of sorts by emerging second in the preliminary round. She well deserves the accolades for this feat. However her achievement on Sunday has already rung alarm bells across the country as a move towards turning the otherwise liberal French nation into a right wing fortress. The result -- supporters of the nine other preliminary round candidates are now vowing to put their weight behind young Macron.
France that way is a lot different from many other global powers. While self-interest remains the key concern in several first world nations, the citizens of France, the home of liberalism, often think they have a duty towards the greater good of humanity even at polls. Although there’s a plethora of reasons that would tempt the French to elect a right wing President given the domestic compulsions including rising terrorism, the French are unlikely to do so. Chances are that they would rise above parochial interests to uphold the principles that the land is better known for.
As a result, a Macron who stands for the greater good of Europe and the world stands a strong chance of clinching victory over a right wing Le Pen. A replication of the Trump victory in France therefore is quite remote as things stand, at least for the time being. On the other hand the British Prime Minister Theresa May must be congratulating herself for hosting Macron at Downing Street in February despite her knowledge of his anti-Brexit stand. She refused to offer Le Pen the same honour.
As Macron is gearing to be the youngest President ever in French history, one cannot help but draw a few parallels between former US President Bill Clinton and the young French presidential candidate. The charismatic Clinton who became President at the age of 46 brought home the need to reconcile the left with the right from his first election campaign, though it was peppered with a few nationalist slogans too. His ‘globalist’ yet practical slogans are found echoed and re-echoed in Macron’s campaign. Besides, Macron’s attack on the status quo as regards non-delivery of promises by politicians reminds one of Clinton’s apathy towards politicians of the day irrespective of party affiliations.
“No wonder Americans hate politics when, year in and year out, they hear politicians make promises that won’t come true because they don’t even mean them -- campaign fantasies that win elections but don’t get nations moving again” Clinton said during his maiden election campaign. Toeing the line Macron insists that, “When politics is no longer a mission but a profession, politicians become more self-serving than public servants.”
Though many analysts have likened Macron to Tony Blair with both being centrist political parachutes, it is however evident that Macron has got more to do with Clinton than Blair ideologically. On the other hand Tony Blair who is hitting rock bottom of popularity for his gaffes these days on Brexit and many other subjects may at least be right on one account. “I think it’s too soon to say the centre has been defeated. Ultimately, I don’t think it will,” Blair was quoted as saying last year.
While the British general elections on June 8 will give a verdict on this on British soil, the results of the French presidential elections on May 7 are likely to make Tony Blair more optimistic.