February 13, 2017
What decides the French elections: cult or programme?
One of the questions we are asking ourselves this morning is whether Emmanuel Macron's admission that he wants to respect the 3% deficit rule will play into the hands of Marine Le Pen. Before, the media portrayed him as a saviour, and as anti-establishment, but the cult becomes harder to square with his programme.
Le Pen seems to have concluded that now the party’s programme is out there, it is time to launch herself as the French heroine, a sort of modern Jeanne d’Arc. True to her fundamentals, she lashes out against global finance and mass immigration, and presents herself as a saviour of a dispossessed France in image and sound.
Macron chose to move into the other direction. Responding to the critics who accused him of cult without substance, he is now giving out some hints about his programme. The latest is that he will respect the 3% deficit rule from the Maastricht treaty as outlined by Jean Pisani-Ferry in an interview with JdD. This puts him between Benoît Hamon, who wants an end to the 3% dogma, and Francois Fillon, who promised a balanced budget by 2022. A more detailed programme will be presented February 22. We think that this dents his anti-establishment credentials. And it is risky if he is to face Marine Le Pen in the final round. The magazine Marianne finds that Macron does not promise enough to respond to those who consider themselves the losers of globalisation. To talk about their anger will not be enough, and they might end up backing Le Pen.