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France 2017
Centrist French Contender Throws in with Macron

The unpredictable French presidential election has taken a new turn, with centrist French politician François Bayrou dropping his own ambitions to ally with independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. Reuters:

The announcement by Francois Bayrou, 65, a former education minister who has run for president three times and polled 9 percent of the vote when he stood in 2012, could tip the odds in favor of Macron getting into a runoff against far-right leader Marine Le Pen. […]

“I have decided to offer Emmanuel Macron an alliance. The danger is too big we must change things,” he told a news conference, describing his decision as a “sacrifice”. […]

Opinion polls put Macron neck-and-neck with conservative Francois Fillon, a former prime minister, to get into the runoff against Le Pen, head of the anti-immigrant and anti-European Union National Front.

Bayrou’s announcement could be just the boost that Macron’s campaign needs at a time when the independent candidate’s surge had stalled over controversial remarks about France’s colonial past and his outreach to gay-marriage opponents. None of Macron’s competitors are in ideal shape at the moment: Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon has failed to gain traction and is currently polling at 5 percent, the conservative François Fillon is struggling to regain lost ground and overcome a nepotism scandal, and the National Front’s Marine Le Pen is embroiled in her own scandal involving the misuse of EU funds to pay her assistants. Today, Le Pen’s bodyguard and chief of staff were detained in connection with the affair.

This is not to say that Macron has a smooth path to victory. He is still neck-and-neck with Fillon, and polls before Bayrou’s announcement showed that Fillon was regaining the edge. Le Pen, meanwhile, has held on to recent electoral gains and remains a shoo-in to make the run-off—although polls show her losing decisively to Macron, and by slightly narrower margins to Fillon.

Barring a cataclysmic event, then, the race between Macron and Fillon is the one to watch, ahead of the first round of voting on April 23. Macron’s chances are looking up at the moment, and the jittery French bond market, which has been spooked by the prospect of a Marine Le Pen presidency, has already started rebounding after Bayrou’s announcement. But in France’s most open-ended presidential race in decades, there could still be a surprise or two in store.

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  • As I’ve stated elsewhere: If Le Pen can’t win this year, then the National Front is done as a serious threat to win the presidency. The only thing that could improve her chances beyond just simply the mediocre-to-bad cast of characters she’s running against is if Europe were hit with a major terrorist attack in the runup to the election, especially if a refugee/legal immigrant were involved.

    • Andrew Allison

      I don’t think the French care much about the rest of Europe, but terrorist attacks are occurring regularly (http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/693421/Terror-attacks-timeline-France-Brussels-Europe-ISIS-killings-Germany-dates-terrorism). I think that the political issue is whether the French will see the inevitable joining of the centrists against Le Pen for the cynical political ploy that it will be, and (pardon the pun) Trump it.

      • Disappeared4x

        Perhaps the French will still blame Germany. Or, Sarkozy.

        • Andrew Allison

          Nah, it’s all Trump’s fault! LOL. The French establishment will do exactly what the Dimocrats are doing, namely looking for any explanation other than the obvious one (what have you done for me lately?) for the election result. It’s what elites do.

          • Disappeared4x

            As long as the French do not blame Putin. 🙂
            Oh, wait. Putin is the default if Le Pen wins.
            My bet is the Boche. Cabbage heads.

          • Andrew Allison

            How come you’re so saur on the Krauts [grin]
            Putin appears to be the default explanation for any election result which is incomprehensible to the establishmentarian losers, but my money is still on Trump as the whipping boy.

          • Disappeared4x

            French election? Chicken or egg; still a superb omelet, but only if it is real butter. Shallots, not onions.

            You know why. Vol. 1 now post-Versailles, reminded of the vengeful Clemenceau. Tempted to restart Vol 2, which I stopped at the 1939 invasion of Poland when Vol. 1 arrived.

          • Andrew Allison

            Apologies in advance, but omelettes are something of a specialty of mine. It drives me crazy that a real omelette is so hard to find in the USA. Never, ever, order one at an “omelette station” — not only will there be no butter involved, but you’ll get a scramble, not an omelette. An omelette requires three steps: cook the filling, cook the eggs, and encase the filling with the eggs. Unless it’s a cheese omelette there should be no cheese involved. The unstated principle is that less is more. The onion/shallot question depends upon what else is involved. For example, although I personally wouldn’t pollute a fresh mushroom omelette with anything else, fried onion might work for philistines and/or dried mushrooms. You’ve no doubt deduced that I’m a foodie and a little passionate about omelettes.
            Once again, I’m so glad that you are enjoying The Century Trilogy! Be sure to read Pillars of the Gods when you’re done.

          • Disappeared4x

            TY. Umm, do you mean Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth”?
            Quite hungry.
            Auf wiedersehen.

          • Andrew Allison

            Yes. No idea where that came from.

    • Jon Robbins

      “If Le Pen can’t win this year, then the National Front is done as a serious threat to win the presidency.”

      On what basis do you say that? Europe has a lot of problems and they are certainly going to endure past next year. The NF has been written off many times in the past. I don’t know how successful it will be in the future, but you have no idea what will happen five or 10 years from now or how events will affect NF’s chances.

    • ljgude

      If European and French politics were normal I’d agree with you. But they are not because there are two issues that Europe is failing to address that will eventually bring about a major political shift – almost certainly to the right. One is denial that Muslim immigrant values don’t pose a threat to Western values, and the second is the refusal to face that the single currency coupled with national fiscal sovereignty is a structural flaw that threatens to destroy the European union. France stands at the intersection of northern European fiscal responsibility and Catholic southern Europe and it is neither as fiscally responsible as northern Europe nor as Catholic as southern Europe. Which way it will go and when is unclear but it could well be pivotal to the future of Europe. Therefore, I think the French right will get stronger, not weaker.

  • Andrew Allison

    Oh, please. What in heck does a former education minister who has run for president three times and polled 9 percent of the vote when he stood in 2012 matter?

  • gabrielsyme

    Macron represents the worst in status-quo stagnation for France. Pro-Euro and pro-migrant, Macron will simply tighten the straitjacket France finds itself in.

  • FriendlyGoat

    I still say that French people watching Trump in America will have more effect than any of them would want to admit on the question of: “Do we want a Trump of our own for France?” (And, of course I don’t know whether 50.1% of them do—-or not.)

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