The choices are between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. As the French go to the pols today, May 7, to elect their new president, here is what they face. One candidate is the daughter of a fascist gadfly. She has been the leader of the National Front, a party whose history has been marked by what many French view as violence and ignorance. The other is a “cipher” whose only political claim is serving under the most unpopular president in modern French history. The editors of NRO lay out the unmitigated disaster of this presidential election.
Le Pen is a statist of the most destructive kind. Economically, she sounds exactly as you would expect a politician to sound if her party had recently absorbed a few hundred thousand former-communist voters: She is against entitlement reform in a nation that is creaking under the weight of its unfulfillable promises; she hopes to expand, not limit, welfare payments; she favors reducing the retirement age, despite an obvious aging crisis; she opposes the privatization of failing public industries; and she wishes to leave untouched the country’s destructive 35-hour work week. Whatever anger she is channeling, France’s sclerotic growth would be worse, not better, under her agenda. In comparison, Donald Trump looks like F. A. Hayek.
Emmanuel Macron, who, while clearly preferable to Le Pen, represents a missed opportunity in his own right. Economically, Macron has made a few cursory nods toward retrenchment — he hopes to cut the bureaucracy and lower corporate taxes, and has pledged to reduce France’s deficit — but he remains a socialist at heart. Under a Macron presidency, the welfare state will be expanded rather than limited; the 35-hour work week will at best be tinkered with; and, give or a take a few details, the status quo he helped President Hollande put in place will be left well alone.
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