May 05, 2017
Front National - thinking beyond Sunday
Hangover mood among FN supporters. They had high hopes for the debate, but Le Pen's Trump-styled intervention, the permanent ad hominem attacks, her lack of programme, and the exasperated tone at the end, did more harm than good. Only a few inside the party still believe that she can make it on Sunday. Marion Maréchal Le Pen went on television yesterday to deliver the details her aunt failed to, and recover some lost ground. But the deed was done. Though it might not change the determination of FN voters to cast their vote for her, her appearance did not appeal to Fillon voters, nor to the undecided or the abstainers. Inside the party, there is already talk of what to do if she loses. A turnout below 40% would be considered a defeat, one of them tells Marianne. A 45% would be seen as a good defeat. It would position Marine Le Pen as the major opposition against Macron. But her TV performance may have deprived her those votes that would have made this scenario possible.
The verdict about the debate was clear - 47% of the poll in Paris Match considered that Emmanuel Macron won, against 20% for Le Pen, a record-high gap. But this does not necessarily translate into a change of voters' intentions. Only 4% said they changed their mind, according to Journal du Dimanche. The three latest polls of voters' intentions give Macron a winning majority of over 60%. They show an increased participation compared to the April poll, 75% according to the Ifop poll.
Those who want to abstain or vote blank are called upon to cast their vote. Editorialists remind them that this is an irresponsible choice they are making. Médiapart finds that the second round will be decided in those departments where immigration and poverty is high. They have to deal with racism on a daily basis and many voted for Mélenchon or abstained in the first round. Now they face the choice that will affect their lives more than any others. The article featured some second or third generation immigrants who changed their mind in the last days and decided to vote Macron, as they stand to loose most from a FN win.
What did the French debate looked like from the American perspective, where people had to come to terms with Donald Trump winning? Megan McArdle gave us her take about the debate on Bloomberg. From the US perspective, Macron comes across as earnest, arrogant and smirky, as Hillary Clinton did. Le Pen looked like the down-to-earth aunt who does not take his nonsense. Details don’t matter. Front row kids against back row kids, as Chris Arnade puts it. And Le Pen, like Trump, runs on the tenor that things were better 40 years ago, only that there is no way back. What is different is the electoral system. And Macron is unlikely to be hit by a leak of letters in the last days of campaigning like that which proved so damaging for Clinton. Even the latest rumours of an offshore account in the Bahamas,, rejected by Macron, are unlikely to have this effect. So the centre may prevail in France. Though we fear that the front row-back row fight will not end.