London: The French presidential election, on April 10, has the possibility of two rounds if a candidate does not obtain an absolute majority. President Macron leads in the polls and in popularity Macron is the most likely to win the precious second term, his approval rating for the past year has hovered around 40%. In 2017, Macron’s En Marche party managed to bring Republican and Socialist voters to the center of politics, giving him a victory that surprised many in Europe. In fact, that was just one of the first examples of what happened in the UK. Theresa May tried the same on the British electorate with her ‘burning injustices’ but failed to convince, then came Boris Johnson who brought a Tory manifesto to Labor’s red wall and succeeded with an overwhelming majority . As someone once observed, “Macron campaigned as a liberal and turned into a conservative and Johnson campaigned as a conservative and turned into a liberal.”
In the UK, people didn’t pay much attention to the French election until one of the candidates, Eric Zemmour, identified himself as closest to Boris Johnson. It is a fact that they have both been successful media personalities. Zemmour said he was not part of an international populist movement and felt closest in terms of intellectual and cultural ideology to Boris Johnson. Like President Macron, Zemmour is an intellectual, he is a Jew of Algerian Berber origin, his party is symbolically named Reconquest, his mission is to reclaim France, French culture and French civilization from what he calls “separatism Islamic”. The launch of Zemmour’s presidential campaign in 2021 had a deliberate atmosphere of President De Gaulle in the staging, and his call to save France from the “great replacement”, reminiscent of De Gaulle’s 1940 calls to save France from Germany.
Zemmour attributes France’s social problems largely to Afro-Islamic immigration; Brexit has demonstrated that referendums work and if successful, Zemmour has pledged to hold a national referendum on immigration. Zemmour would also like migrants to be less of a sectarian community and more of a community of French people, which has made him both a controversial and supposedly divisive politician. Dividing in terms of society and also in terms of dividing the far right vote. Marine Le Pen is traditionally seen as the most right-wing candidate, but she has worked to ensure her party attracts more centre-right voters. Zemmour is even further to the right than Le Pen, who now scares mainstream conservatives less, but Marine Le Pen still bears the stain of her father Jean Marie Le Pen who was found guilty of racial hatred by denying the Holocaust. Will some of Le Pen’s supporters swing towards Zemmour, will all the recent incidents of ethnic tension swing French nationalists in Zemmour’s direction, or will Le Pen now be seen as less drastic and more palatable than Zemmour?
Or will voters prefer the runner-up candidate to Macron, Europhile globalist Valerie Pegresse, who will be helped by any far-right vote splits and is the favorite to advance to the second round. In August last year, Pegresse said “I’m 2/3 Merkel and 1/3 Thatcher”. It is curious to see how the French candidates choose to define themselves by the British Prime Ministers. Michel Barnier having failed as a candidate supports his fellow technocrat Pegresse, there will be no Frexit with Pegresse. She is a career politician who wants to be a French iron lady, a protege of Jacques Chirac and a minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, she claims she is the center conservative and will fight crime and drugs, improve the cost of living and salaries. Pegresse meddled with Zemmour territory on immigration policy saying it would introduce immigration quotas and limit social benefits.
To celebrate France’s position as President of the European Union, Emmanuel Macron flew the EU flag under the Arc de Triomphe above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The whole of the right was incandescent and the “Tricolore” was reinstated three days later, apparently according to schedule. During the election campaign, Macron’s profile is likely to benefit from this rotating presidency,
Macron chose to launch his campaign in Vichy, the ignominious French city of collaboration with the Nazis, this is Macron’s challenge to Zemmour, who is accused of racism, living in a glorious past and whitewashing French history .
Macron’s handling of the pandemic has been successful with around 80% of the population fully vaccinated, but new legislation making vaccination compulsory for those working in public places has been made unpopular by Macron’s vulgar coercive comment . France’s impressive economic rebound and modest gas and electricity price inflation have set sail for Macron on the condition that inflation stays under control, but how to rebuild after the pandemic is not such a big deal. characteristic of this election.
Macron’s weakness is security, in 2018-19 the workers’ demonstrations of “yellow vests” dominated the cities and the news, now the French electorate is angry, an emotion that drives people to vote, this election is a question of identity, belonging and pride. The left in this election has all but disappeared, the middle ground and the right bear the brunt; French democracy will decide who will resolve the culture wars, it is the French equivalent of the American rust belt which will decide who will participate in the second round with Macron.