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France 2017
Macron Takes the Lead in French Race

The stars are aligning for Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential race, according to Reuters:

Independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron consolidated his status as favorite for the French presidency on Friday as pressure mounted on scandal-hit conservative rival Francois Fillon to pull out.

An opinion poll published by Odoxa showed Macron coming first in the first round, pushing far-right leader Marine le Pen into second place for the first time since the line-up of candidates became clear.

Macron has greatly benefitted from the nepotism scandal plaguing Francois Fillon’s campaign, which deepened this week when investigators put him under formal investigation. Fillon has pledged to fight to the bitter end, bucking calls from fellow Republicans to drop out amid plummeting poll numbers and mass defections. Most recently, the centrist Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI) withdrew their support, lending renewed urgency to talks among party insiders about grooming a replacement candidate. If Fillon does drop out—a big if—early signs suggest that former prime minister Alain Juppe would be chosen to replace him, posing a more formidable challenge for Macron.

For now, though, with the right in disarray, Macron is seizing the initiative to unroll a detailed policy platform. So far, the Macron agenda has plenty to offer both Right and Left, with belt-tightening fiscal reforms, corporate tax cuts, and deregulation co-existing with proposals to raise disability allowances, hire more teachers, and boost training programs for at-risk youth. On the foreign policy front, Macron remains an outspoken proponent of the EU, although his insistence on reforms and a common Eurozone budget is likely to rankle Germany. Meanwhile, Macron is  seeking to shore up votes on the Right by playing to their security concerns, with proposals to hire 10,000 more cops and bolster a network of French field agents to combat Islamic radicalization.

It remains to be seen whether this policy mix will prove a winning formula, but the latest polls indicate something is resonating with voters. And in an era of anti-establishment anger, Macron’s main asset may be his carefully cultivated image as an outsider; he has lately been pushing an anti-nepotism agenda in a clear effort to distinguish himself from elite politicos like Fillon. The race is far from over, and a Fillon dropout could shake things up once again. But for the moment Macron’s star is on the rise.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    A slight majority of the French people either want to be “Trumped” or they don’t—–now that they can hear from this side of the pond about what it entails.

    • Proverbs1618

      Rising stock market, rising confidence in the economy, deregulation, lower taxes. In other words, everything you hate.

      • FriendlyGoat

        We’re going to have to let the French do the elections in France, okay? They’ll let us know what they want—–with benefit of American goings-on for their review.

        • Proverbs1618

          I just described what electing somebody like Trump entails. If people would rather have a slow economy and constant attacks by feral Muslims, well, that’s on them.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I don’t know how French elections will go. I do know they have something to look at in America which they have not seen before and I suspect it will be a factor.

          • Proverbs1618

            Agreed. Let’s see how it plays out.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Okay. After all, we have no other choice about events.

        • Angel Martin

          Population of France: 88 percent (!) say the country is on the wrong track.

          I find it hard to believe that Le Pen will not get elected against such a backdrop, regardless of what current “Presidential Polls” claim.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Great chart. But always a bad poll question.

          • Angel Martin

            right track / wrong track is maybe the best question for determining if an incumbent (or someone seen as the incumbent) has the advantage, or if the “change” candidate has the advantage. eg 2012, right track barely 50%, Obama barely won. vs 80% wrong track in 2008 when Obama won easily.

            Wrong track in 2016 had a lot better predictive power for the 2016 election than Obama’s approval rating – which most of the media supporters of Hillary thought was more important.

            Also, when there is a social stigma for supporting a candidate (like Le Pen) it i easier to get people to admit that France is on the “wrong track” than if they are going to vote for Le Pen.

  • Beauceron

    Macron isn’t a centrist.
    He’s a Leftists who’s just not as socialist as most of the Leftwing politicians in France. While that puts Macron to the right of most French Leftists, it does not make him centrist.

    • Andrew Allison

      You raise an important point. “Centrism” means different things in Western Europe, where the center is really center-left, and the USA where it is center-right.

  • Given Macron’s decidedly pro-market policies (for France), I’d be much surprised if he actually won the election, even if he were facing Le Pen in the runoff. The left-right argument (i.e., how much state do we want) in France isn’t really between left and right, it’s between two different strains of leftists, both of which favor a lot of state intervention in the economy. Running as a pro-market reformer in France is almost equivalent to running as an atheist in America.

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