The chart above is showing the rise and rise of Front National, the party of Marine Le Pen. While we can be easily dismissive of her father Jean-Marie’s vitriol it is clear a growing number of French support her views. She has garnered 7.5mn votes, well beyond the 5.5mn her father achieved in round 2 in 2002. While she may well end up losing the second round there is no point rejoicing a get out of jail free card. These events are telling. It is not as if Le Pen is going away. Like Wilders in Holland she might be too extreme for some but not for 21.5% of eligible voters.
Is it any wonder the establishment parties were knocked out for the first time ever? She is listening to a growing number of French fed up with failure, typified by Hollande. Emmanuel Macron might seem a fresh alternative at 39yo but we’ve seen what a disaster youth can be in the form of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. His popularity is dropping like a stone as he is showing youth doesn’t equate to fresh ideas. Perhaps youth is one of his appeals which frankly is a worry although some might argue he is in touch with the 60s age group too.
Macron was a Socialist under Hollande. Very rarely does one change their party spots. In fact should he win I’m guessing he’ll be more of the same. He’ll pander to soft options and cosy up to the EU but that is unlikely to change the fortunes of those suffering the effects of long term (and youth) unemployment. That just makes Le Pen stronger the next time around. France will continue to suffer more terrorist attacks and weak leadership emboldens an enemy.
Juncker et al will view a Macron victory as a win for the EU but make no bones about the tsunami of discontent that lives inside the union. Now we have an unhinged Turkey which can not benefit the EU in any way. Greece is still a basket case. Italy worsens by the day and is far from a dead cert to avoid Italexit as its referendum concluded indirectly.
The denial from EU flunkies after the Dutch election was staggering. The comments talking of a triumph for the EU couldn’t be further from the mark. The words echoed the type of denial one might find from the England Rugby coach for why his team didn’t make the World Cup play-offs at the home tournament The fans were shaking their heads at the dismal explanation.
In almost every EU country the right wing/anti-establishment parties continue to grow in strength. Even if they haven’t won outright majorities, incumbent parties can’t rest on their laurels. They must adapt. Australians have abandoned the two major parties in droves. The no nonsense One Nation Party is filling the vacuum because they are doing one thing – listening. It is the one thing the EU continues to miss – reform. If they think the Dutch, Austrian and French election results are endorsements this year they’re only accelerating the path to failure. We all know the outcome of national coaches who fail at the highest levels!