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April 05, 2017

What if Macron were to become president?

The TV debate with eleven candidates turned into a cacophony. This is at least the verdict on twitter and in the newspapers this morning. There were just too many of them. The small candidates had their go at the big candidates, and everyone had something to say against Marine Le Pen. With all those smaller fringe candidates Jean-Luc Mélenchon looked like a moderate, and this seem to have paid off for him. The Elabe poll afterwards showed that Mélenchon was considered the most convincing (25%), followed by Emmanuel Macron (21%) and François Fillon (15%). This gives us something to chew on. There are other questions about Macron cropping up.

The frontpage article from L’Opinion writes that Macron might present himself as a candidate against the political system, but he himself turns into the candidate of senior officials with many of their proposals in his programme. This presents its own chances and risks in terms of campaigning. It also means that, if he wanted to continue playing the populism-lite card, he would have to counterbalance the presence of technocrats with that of the citizens he promised to include. 

The other question is whether Macron can attract young Republicans like Bruno Le Maire, to counterbalance his tilt towards the left. So far those young Republicans take their distance from Fillon, but are not trusting Macron either. Apart from his political inexperience, one worry is that a Macron presidency would place the FN in the position of leading opposition party, which would increase their chances of winning in 2022, writes Cécile Cornudet.

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April 05, 2017

The case for relative optimism about Article 50

Andrew Duff has taken a close look at the European Council’s draft guidelines for the Brexit talks, and, contrary to the consensus view, he appears relatively optimistic that they could lead to a Brexit agreement.

“Forlorn British pro-Europeans should exploit the EU guidelines as providing a roadmap for their own route to recovery after Brexit. They might also credit the prime minister with the generally more constructive approach which she adopted in her Article 50 letter of 29 March. A 'deep and special partnership' between Britain and Europe is not in the circumstances she finds herself a bad concept, and her promise of making in due course 'detailed proposals for deep, broad and dynamic cooperation' does not really presage a 'hard Brexit'. Moreover, Mrs May has at last dropped the idiotic cliché that 'no deal is better than a bad deal' (it is not).”

Duff says the left in particular should abandon hopes of a U-turn on Brexit, also because the EU is in no mood to negotiate - let alone negotiate any further opt-outs for the UK. The EU would not only reject any suggestion of a Brexit-reversal deal (beyond a simple "let’s get back in"), it would also reject any Article 50 renegotiation. If the deal is rejected by the UK parliament, which has a first shot at this before the European Parliament, then the deal will be off.

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