04 May 2017, The Tablet

France’s leap in the dark: the sudden rise of the mysterious Monsieur Macron


A leading commentator on French affairs reflects on the sudden and astonishing rise of the mysterious Monsieur Macron

Whoever wins the second round of the presidential election tomorrow, France will be taking a leap in the dark. Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, expelled her father from the party he founded, while Emmanuel Macron married his school teacher (who is 24 years older than he is): one sardonic voter describes the situation as “a Freudian contest – between a woman who killed her father and a man who has married his mother”.

For her opponents, the election of Marine Le Pen is seen as a disaster for the republic and its fundamental values, and political leaders from both Left and Right have been calling for a united movement to ensure that she loses. But Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate of En marche! (“Let’s Go!”), represents almost as great a gamble.

Macron’s original appeal was to those who have lost faith in the country’s political system. When he says that the last two presidents, François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, “have tarnished the presidential image”, or that “‘Right’ and ‘Left’ are outdated concepts and that the real battle is between ‘progressives’ and ‘nationalists’”, he strikes a popular – almost a populist – note.

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