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Macron / Le Pen: reform and rupture

Since the 2005 referendum, a deaf fight divides French society between nonists and supporters of yes to the European Constitution. Marine Le Pen, over time, has established herself as the most credible heiress of the nonist movement alongside Jean-Luc Mélenchon. These “nonists” were able to form a contextual majority ranging from Arlette Laguiller to Philippe de Villiers, from those who want to destroy the Europe of finance to those who think that the European Union dissolves the identity of France in globalism standardizing. In fact, this majority of 2005 was never able to come together other than on the date that saw these opposites form a common front, as the members who made it up presented seemingly irreconcilable differences and political histories too dissimilar for they can, even occasionally, form a common front. It was not a question of a political majority but rather of a majority of circumstance.

In 2005, therefore, the two transpartisan camps of 1992 reconstituted themselves, again thwarting the polls. With one major difference: they won by a significant margin (54.67% of the votes cast, or 15,449,508 voters). Several factors tipped the scales in their favour. First, the surprise intervention of Laurent Fabius. The number two of the powerful Socialist Party, of social-liberal leanings, showed his political sense by condemning “merchant Europe”, anticipating the evolution of a campaign studded with numerous polemics contradicting the announced course of events. The possibility of Turkey’s entry into the Union, the unfair competition of the “Polish plumber”, relocations or the overvaluation of the single currency thus crystallized the various sovereigntist tendencies of public opinion, nourishing the most contradictory motivations. The voters of the radical left as of the national right could therefore jointly ensure the victory of the non, some for political reasons, others for social or cultural considerations, without ever renouncing their own historical themes. The left-right divide, obscured by the apparent unity of the nontherefore persisted.

However, a powerful political myth had just emerged from the ballot box: the constant gathering of opponents to the European Constitutional Treaty of 2005 could in the future constitute an electoral majority, and the basis for a reorientation of national policy. Accounting logic alone, adding up the electorates, however, pays little heed to the irreducible differences between the parties, their motivations and their voters. Be that as it may, the right-left divide has, since 2017, been contested by the two then unexpected finalists in the presidential election…confirmed in 2022, especially in the between two rounds where the two applicants compete for the electorate mélenchoniste and that of the “yellow vests”. Marine Le Pen has clearly taken the lead of the party of the “popular bloc” or “breakaway bloc” against the great party of reform, optimism and … extension of the curves of social democracy.

The major difference between this second act and the first is that Emmanuel Macron has a record to defend, quite light

The major difference between this second act and the first is that Emmanuel Macron has a record to defend, quite light, and that France, like Europe, has experienced new traumatic events of great importance. Emmanuel Macron is not the bearer of a renewal project; he is the one responsible for ensuring the survival of a reformist model which has failed in almost everything, or, at least, which has not had the expected successes. One of his main blind spots lies in the promise of horizontality and regeneration of the Fifth Republic that his movement carried in 2017, since what Gérald Darmanin described as “bobopopulism” has changed, let’s face it, into a kind of sclerosing “boboputinism” holding most of the power – apart from the local executives in which it does not dominate directly, but through the intermediary of cronies of the large traditional parties, surviving in the local political space -.

This is what explains Marine Le Pen’s significant progress in the polls, as well as her offensive on the institutional question the day after the first round. The unfortunate candidate notably argued that she had heard the angry French people and therefore that she would give them the possibility of expressing themselves directly, in particular within the framework of referendums of shared initiative. She also intends to reassure them by explaining that the National Assembly could be elected with a substantial proportional share, to ensure a gesture of representation for all political sensitivities, an unfulfilled promise of Emmanuel Macron requested for 20 years by François Bayrou, and that this hypothesis would be accompanied by a return to the seven-year term, but not renewable.

Fully assuming her position as champion of the little ones, of the France of the forgotten, of the “toothless” as François Hollande would have said in private, or of those who “are nothing” to use Elysian terminology, Marine Le Pen has drove the point home during his meeting in Avignon using a vocabulary that has been less present in recent months. She thus castigated the oligarchy, the caste, even claiming to be at the head of the “popular bloc” threatened by the “elite bloc”. Basically, she is strategically right: it is for her the only way out in this second round in view of the forces present. Populism turns every election into a referendum. Moreover, the detestation of Emmanuel Macron is a reality in part of the right as well as part of the left… but always for different, even antagonistic reasons.

With nearly one million five hundred thousand votes in advance in the first round, Emmanuel Macron is playing it safe. His campaign is not good. He tries to defend his action and to prolong “his reformism”. The international context can help it, it also appears to be better placed in these indicators. On the other hand, Le Pen is better regarded than him for everyday concerns such as purchasing power or security. For the time being, the balance of forces is still arithmetically unfavorable to the candidate of the National Rally. She analyzed that her reserves were mainly on the left and that she had to federate the French in rupture.

The main difficulty for her is that Jean-Luc Mélenchon understood that she could perform better than in 2017. He therefore approached this second round in a very different way, reserving his most violent blows to Le Pen and calling for “not a voice” LFI falls into his hands. He does this to spare a part of his immigrant electorate and because he knows that those of his electors who have passed to Le Pen will definitively fall on his side at the next move, and very surely from the legislative elections. The goal of Jean-Luc Mélenchon is to take the lead of the “popular bloc”, the party of rupture, for the years to come. Its electorate is that of downgraded urbanites, poor intellectual professions, students and of course the suburbs. This is the other rupture, the one that faces the traditional popular France of the countryside and the peripheries, economically less downgraded but socially more forgotten. Two very different electorates, united in a common rejection of the “system” and its concrete effects. We could also say, using terms that have gone out of fashion, that on the one hand there are the anti-globalizationists and on the other the anti-globalizationists, even if all this would be a bit schematic.

Can Marine Le Pen do it? Can it reunite the bloc of rupture against the France of the reform, Answer on April 24th.

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