August 31, 2018
How Macron uses the new European divisions at home
Matteo Salvini and Victor Orban declared Emmanuel Macron as their enemy, a golden opportunity for Macron to construct his European campaign based on a clear alternative between nationalists and progressives. This new political game provides Macron a much needed new opportunity, after his initial offensive launched with the Sorbonne speech failed to raise enthusiasm amongs other member states. Now he bets on defending European values against populists, which he argues requires strong measures including treaty change.
The polarisation also has an interesting domestic angle, writes Cécile Cornudet. Marine Le Pen immediately aligned herself with Salvini, and this also fits perfectly into Macron's plan. The populist against the moderate, a rerun of the second round of the presidential elections last year. With this Macron also hopes to eclipse out of the debate Jean-Luc Mélenchon from the left, and also Laurent Wauquiez from the Republicans who is reluctant to dismiss Salvini.
To succeed, Macron will have to present a unified European Parliament list including moderate Republicans. And they need to come first in France, which is not a given in a country where pro-Europeans are far from being in the majority. Using Salvini to build his European campaign is not an oxymoron but quite a risky bet, concludes Cornudet.