French voters have been toying for years with alternative parties and their leaders, but it appears that the love affair with outsider candidates may be over. Jonathan Miller writes in Spectator:
Five years ago, Emmanuel Macron was ‘en marche’ to his improbable ascent to the presidency of France. Last night, having united France against him, the certitude that he will be reelected in 270 days has evaporated.
Results of the second round of regional elections can only be described as a disaster for the president. His bespoke political party, La République en Marche, has collapsed. And worse, his preferred presidential opponent, Marine Le Pen, lost any remaining credibility as a serious alternative. That could leave him facing a traditional conservative next year – one who might not be eliminated in advance, as François Fillon was last time, by a convenient criminal investigation.
The message is loud and clear. French voters are weary of the sight of both Macron and Le Pen. Macron has failed to deliver any substantial element of his reform program, has demonstrated an inability to come to grips with a deteriorating security problem, fumbled the COVID crisis and is obsessed with a European ideology that does not resonate at all with voters.
Le Pen’s failure to present anything resembling a coherent plan to extract France from its social and economic crisis, and her flailing efforts to present herself as a moderate, produced not a single regional or departmental victory. It’s difficult to choose which one is more disagreeable to the electorate.
Although nothing is ever clear in French politics, voters now seem highly unlikely to support a rerun of the duel between her and Macron in the presidential elections. Macron has tried to shrug off yesterday’s results but he must be chewing the carpets in the Elysée this morning. Even if he makes it to the second round, his reelection is no longer a foregone conclusion. The opportunistic politicians and journalists who supported him are considering their options.
Abstention in a nation that usually takes seriously the duty to vote was once again the unequivocal winner last night as the votes were counted, and they didn’t take long to count as only one third of voters showed up.
Absurd opinion polls have recently been claiming 40 percent support for Macron. That might be true among the political elite but is unequivocal nonsense outside the huppée arrondissements of Paris. In la France profonde, support for him is invisible. The pollsters at best are asking the wrong questions.
What these polls indicate is that Macron might still win in a second round against Le Pen. But not in a contest pitting the president against whoever emerges as next April’s Républicain candidate, either Xavier Bertrand or Valérie Pécresse, both of them easily reelected yesterday as regional presidents of Haute France (the northern region around Calais) and Île de France (greater Paris), respectively.
Read more here.
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