At The American Conservative, Bill Wirtz explains the desperate strategy French president Emmanuel Macron is employing in European Parliamentary elections to beat his rival, Marine Le Pen, and to shut down to offer an alternative to right wing populism. Wirtz writes (abridged):
Macron’s La République En Marche (“the Republic on the move”) party presented its European election manifesto in Paris two weeks ago, then traveled to Berlin and other European capitals to rally French expat voters. It also promoted its ally parties from other countries, namely the German Free Democratic Party (FDP), the Spanish center-right Ciudadanos, the Dutch D66, the Hungarian Momentum, the Belgian liberal MR, the Austrian liberal NEOS, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD. Through this group—which is humbly called “Renaissance”—Macron is trying to win 100 seats in the European Parliament (out of 778). But getting there will be tough, because even the aforementioned parties that actively wield power haven’t won significant shares of the vote.
But Macron’s struggles ultimately start at home. His pick for lead candidate in the European elections, Nathalie Loiseau, is a diplomat and academic administrator. Utterly devoid of excitement, she used a recent speech to give voice to the standard “dangers” of Donald Trump’s politics and liken her political project to the spirit of Gutenberg and Picasso. The address was probably supposed to fit with the “Renaissance” theme. That a considerable part of the country was still putting on yellow traffic vests and screaming their lungs out against the government in Paris doesn’t seem to bother her. They’re probably all populists anyway.
Marine Le Pen doesn’t need to do much ahead of the elections. She leads Macron’s movement by half a point, which would have been considered unfathomable just a year ago. And the more Le Pen gathers steam, the more Macron will lose ground.
Not that we should have expected more from one of the most unpopular presidents in French history.
In his manifesto he writes: “Freedom, protection and progress. We need to build European renewal on these pillars. We cannot let nationalists without solutions exploit the people’s anger. We cannot sleepwalk through a diminished Europe.”
The parties currently represented by the Renaissance alliance include:
- La République En Marche (Macron’s French party)
- German Free Democratic Party (FDP)
- Spanish center-right Ciudadanos
- Dutch D66
- Hungarian Momentum
- Belgian liberal MR
- Austrian liberal NEOS
- Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD
- Belgium’s Open VLD
- Mouvement Radical
His immediate goal is to win at least 100 seats across the alliance of parties in the European Parliament. He figures that with that many seats, he’ll be able to play kingmaker among the two major party coalitions in the EU parliament today. A few his main platform goals of his alliance are:
- Force Schengen area countries to comply with strict border controls and to accept aslyees
- Create a social shield for all workers guaranteeing the same pay in the same workplace, and a minimum European wage appropriate to each country and discussed collectively every year.
- A world-oriented Europe needs to look towards Africa, with which we should enter into a covenant for the future, taking the same road and ambitiously and non-defensively supporting African development with such measures as investment, academic partnerships and education for girls.
Read more from Wirtz here.