With two-thirds of the French public disapproving of Socialist President François Hollande’s market reforms, M. Hollande has the lowest approval rating of any Western leader since the end of WWII. So how is it, Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, economics minister and protégé of Hollande’s, has surged in popularity? Enough so to win, along with Marine Le Pen, the first round of voting in France’s presidential election?
Macron, 39 years old, left the Socialist Party last year to run as head of En Marche (on the march), a new movement. Rather than leave the 28-country European Union, which lays down the rules for the continent, Macron would strengthen it, unlike Le Pen, who would pull out the EU entirely.
A major complaint we often hear is how the EU has eroded French culture. Citizens feel less free and increasingly defenseless against mass migration. Unlike Brexit, which has remained half in and half out of the EU (Britain still maintains its own currency), France is an integral part of the EU, providing what Christopher Caldwell calls “the project’s brains and vision.” The EU would likely collapse without France, he maintains.
By all accounts, Emmanuel Macron, who loves acting, is “intelligent, eloquent, and seductive. … He woos crowds, “ writes Mr. Caldwell.
The most unusual thing about Mr. Macron is his marriage. He is not yet 40, while his wife is in her 60s. (He met her at age 15, when she was running the drama club at his high school.) In ordinary times, this might strike voters as weird; in today’s troubled climate, it seems to strike them as bracingly transgressive.
Mr. Macron is the candidate of money, of power, of the EU. The economist Jean-Luc Gréau goes so far as to call him the candidate of “a Third World France subordinated to Germany.”
People hear what they want to hear. In recent days, the onetime Le Monde editor Luc Rosenzweig announced that he would vote for Mr. Macron because the candidate believes in nuclear power and thus in the future. Meanwhile, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who represents the Green Party in the European Parliament, said that he is backing Mr. Macron in part because of his promise to cut nuclear power.
The politically correct Macron has called colonization by France of Algeria a “crime against humanity.” Mr. Caldwell explains:
(Macon) uses bi-gendered pronouns (celles et ceux instead of the more usual ceux). And he neatly ties together cultural and economic issues, praising the Uber economy to the skies as a means of upward mobility for those (mostly North African) youths whom he calls victims of prejudice. Uber is unpopular in France. Mr. Macron has attacked it too.