Sunday, April 23, 2017

Why the French Elections Matter

The French people today are going to the polls, and the results could have profound impact on the U.S., Europe and the world.  Indeed, I would argue that these elections are even more consequential than the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.  We have four major candidates that are basically running neck and neck.  Two candidates--those on the far left and right-- are hostile to both NATO and the EU, and if those two candidates are in the runoff, it is hard to see how the EU survives.  And it will also have a profound impact on European unity in the face of an aggressive Russia.

The extremist candidate are Maine LePen from the ultra-nationalist, anti-EU and anti-immigrant Natioanl Front, and Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is running far to the left, with an agenda that is hostile to both NATO and the United States.  The "mainstream" candidates are Francois Fillon, who is a social conservative focused on the Catholic vote, and Emmanuel Macron, who is running as a Centrist.  Interestingly, despite the unpopularity of the EU in France, Macron is unabashed in his support of the EU and of the need for economic reform.

What has been fascinating about this election is that only one of France's leading parties, The Republicans, has survived.  The Socialist party is largely out of the picture.  Both Melenchon and Macron are effectively independent candidates.  This largely reflects a big desire for change, and the results of this election--no matter who wins--will have a profound effect on the future of Frane.

The most likely result today is a Le Pen/Macron runoff, what in a normal election year would be won by Macron.  The nightmare scenario for stability in Europe would be a contest between Le Pen and Melenchon.

I for one, am rooting for Macron.

You can read more about the election here.  The first results will come in around 2 pm Eastern time.

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