Irrespective of political opinion or ideological outlook, most would agree that the last five years have not been the most glorious half-decade in France’s long history.
Crushing inefficiency, record unemployment, personal scandal and a terror-epidemic, ensured the least popular President since records began would be the first since the war not to stand for re-election.
If France is to flourish once more, something must change in a country that yearns and groans for real radicalism.
Instead, the next five years will be defined by a President who personifies the ‘business as usual’ establishment. The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in typically humble and politically nuanced style, scorned that Macron was: ‘A pretty obvious choice’.
And, of course, for the European political establishment and French economic elites he is not only the ‘obvious choice,’ but a godsend at a time in which their self-aggrandising personal interest and plans for a federal Europe are under more scrutiny than ever before.
The former philosophy student and Rothschild investment banker has openly insisted that only a ‘sovereign Europe,’ can protect its citizens from outside threats. Simultaneously, he has heaped praise on Angela Merkel’s call to refugees as the genius that saved ‘Europe’s dignity’.
On the face of it, Le Pen could scarcely conjure a candidate more proudly antithetical to the interests of Front National and their working and lower-middle class voter base.
Nonetheless, while the establishment stubbornly clings to strategic ignorance and short-term comfort – the election of the shiny, eloquent and substantively hollow Macron gives the FN a once in a lifetime opportunity, to go one step further in 2022 and win the Presidency outright.
Crucial to this will be the outcome of the much-overlooked Parliamentary elections in June. Visions of Presidential glory led Macron to ditch his former socialist party in favour of ‘his movement’ which, excluding the obvious, has never fielded a single candidate for election at any level. What looks likely, is that Finlon’s conservative Les Républicains will win a comfortable majority. This will create a similar parliamentary deadlock to the current scenario, which Hollande has blamed for his inability to get things done and his subsequent unpopularity.
However, it won’t be Parliamentary frustration that will hand FN victory in 2022 as much as the increasingly regular social unrest and the death of more French citizens, on French streets at the hands of Extremist Islamic Terror. Indeed, ever the shrewd strategist, Macron has already sought to manage any expectation that he might be able to keep his people safe. Unfortunately, he declared, terrorism ‘will be a fact of daily life in the coming years’.
This defeatist mantra may be enough for some, but it will over the next five years, satisfy ever fewer, particularly France’s youth. In this year’s first round of voting, FN claimed an impressive victory among 18-34 year-olds.
In five years’ time, the French electoral system means FN will, as usual, face a united establishment determine to stifle them. Nonetheless, with every day that passes, FN and Le Pen grow in political acumen and the average Frenchman and Frenchwoman grow in despair at the decline of their nation.
Le Pen and FN are far from perfect. Elements of their secular social liberalism and willingness to infringe civil and religious liberties show a lack of consistent ideological conservatism.
Nevertheless, despite shallow promises of European reform, with Macron at the helm, nothing will change.
Who would bet against Front National in 2022? Not me.
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