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Why Le Pen will be the next French President

While polls are showing Macron in the lead, the most likely outcome will see the leader of France’s Front National, Le Pen as the winner of the election this spring

May 4

0:00
2017

London , United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland - 4 May 2017 -

The Macron-Le Pen duel an ultimate clash between France’s bobos (bourgeois bohemians) and la plèbe, the fast-expanding, marginalized masses who live in a “peripheral France.”

From the moment the British people opted to leave the European Union last summer, and continuing on through Donald Trump’s election several months later, there has been a sense that right-wing populism is on an inevitable rise.

This proposition was tested last Sunday, when France voted for its next president. Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader who has been applauded by Trump, finished in second place. Because no candidate received 50 percent of the vote (or even half that), Le Pen will now face Emmanuel Macron, the first-place finisher. Macron, a centrist who left the Socialist Party, formed a new “movement,” En Marche! This allowed him to run as an outsider, which the former banker and government minister most certainly is not.

He leads Le Pen by a large margin in polls, but for obvious reasons no one is taking anything for granted anymore. Le Pen’s success in merely reaching the runoff has much of French society frightened. When Jean-Marie Le Pen, the far-right National Front (FN) candidate, came in second place in the first round of France’s presidential election in 2002, earning a coveted spot to the runoff against then President Jacques Chirac, he was met with outright rejection. His shocking advance, the first time a member of the far right had advanced that far in a French election since World War II, prompted French voters on the left and right to rally in Chirac’s favor, handing him an unprecedented 82 percent of votes in the runoff, and sending a defiant “non” to Le Pen and the vision for France his party represented.

Fifteen years later, and for the second time in FN history, a Le Pen has once again made it to the presidential runoff. But it’s no longer Jean-Marie on the ballot, nor has there been the same kind of uproar the party faced the last time it made it this close to the Élysée Palace.

If you were reassured by all polls on the French Presidential election that showed independent young radical Emmanuel Macron is in the lead and that he will challenge the far-right firebrand Marine Le Pen, then you may be in for a surprise. Here is why the leader of France’s Front National, Le Pen, is probably going to win the election this spring.

We know anti-establishment populism is on the rise in Europe and that it is hard to measure until it is too late. Le Pen represents a chance to stick it to the EU elites and give a voice to those feeling disregarded and disgruntled by the march of globalisation and multiculturalism.

Usually a candidate from the left would provide an antidote, but this year the Socialists will be nothing more than a footnote. It is almost certain that the final round presidential run-off will feature Macron against Le Pen, with no left-wingers in sight.

Another thing in Le Pen's favour is voter abstention. French physicist Serge Galam has said the National Front leader could benefit from her hard-core following who will ensure they turn out to back her.

By contrast, a substantial number of people who said they would vote for her rival may not actually go to the polls, he claimed. At the same time many conservative voters might refrain from voting for Macron because they regard him as a natural heir to President Francois Hollande.

Only a third of voters said they were certain to go to the polls and had also definitively chosen their candidate. A third of voters aimed to abstain or were considering doing so, according to a Cevopof poll in Le Monde. In recent presidential elections abstention has been about one fifth. As Ms Le Pen’s voters are the most motivated, it is assumed that she will benefit from a low turnout.

The latest poll by Ipsos Sopra Steria said Le Pen would have the most votes in the first round - at 25 per cent - compared to 24 per cent for Macron and 18 per cent for Fillon.

The fact that Macron He has strong backing from key political figures: outgoing Socialist President François Hollande and candidate Benoît Hamon on the left and defeated Republican candidate François Fillon and ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy on the right cannot be regarded as a strength. Quite the contrary, voters are sick and tired of the same old faces that have brought the world economy to its knees while pursuing pointless policies that seem to favour the 1% while systematically ignoring the majority of the population. The French political elite is as discredited as it appears to be in the minds of voters and the sense of her being besieged by the entire establishment will play into her hands.

Le Pen knows she has a real shot, and she is doing all she can to extricate herself from the toxic legacy of her father and disassociate herself from accusations of xenophobia and fascism. She is even softening her uncompromising EU-hatred. Most French voters, especially those who have investments and pensions, don’t want France to face the instability of leaving the Euro. So in her first interview of the new year, Le Pen backed away from outright withdrawal, and promised compromise.

She also reframed a question about whether she supported France leaving the EU into a call for a renegotiation and referendum - a sharp about-turn for the leader of a party that has opposed the EU since its creation. Her target is no longer just the EU, but the multicultural elites whose tolerance, liberalism and relaxed immigration policies have put the fundamentals of French society at risk.

This is the rhetoric of Trump, with one key difference: Le Pen actually believes what she says. Trump promised a wall to keep out immigrants and a ban Muslims from entering the country because he thought it sounded good at rallies. Le Pen vows to deport immigrants and de-Islamify France because that is the ideology she has been raised to believe since childhood (albeit it with Muslims switched in to replace Jews). Trump is already back-peddling. If elected, Le Pen will not.

Despite all that’s happened, from the clobbering of main-party candidates to the normalization of the National Front and the rise of the Ni-Nis, the elite is still in denial.

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