Macronomics is "in tune with what a modern European economy needs"—Le Pen is notby George Magnus / February 7, 2017 / Leave a comment
On Sunday, in front of a crowd of about 3,000 supporters in Lyon, Front National leader Marine Le Pen formally launched her “France First” presidential campaign. On the previous day in the same city, Emmanuelle Macron had held a rally in front of two-three times as many people. Formerly of the Socialist Party, Macron is now more closely identified with his own organisation En Marche!, having announced that he will run as an independent. These two look like the frontrunners in the French presidential race: in the run-off on 7th May, they will probably go head-to-head.
There is no question that this election will be as significant to France and to Europe as the EU referendum was to the UK and Europe, and the election of Donald Trump was to the United States and the world.
Interestingly, whoever wins looks set to have a major task building a parliamentary majority for whatever programme they want to pursue. The Front National currently has two members in the 577-seat National Assembly, subject to the next legislative elections in June, while Macron currently has no party, let alone any MPs.
Le Pen’s economic agenda is cut from the same populist cloth as that of the Brexit campaign and Trump. Beaten up by opinion polls and pundits’ expectations in the UK and US last year, many people think Le Pen is, therefore, the likely winner.
She is appealing to and stirring up voters’ angst around globalisation. In her campaign address, she spoke in favour of a major cut in immigration, a tax on foreign workers, and trade barriers. These things would, of course, only be possible if France severed ties with the EU. And so she also spoke in favour of a period of negotiations with the EU to change or end the Schengen arrangement and end the pre-eminence of EU law. At the end of this, if agreement proved elusive, she would hold a referendum on France’s membership of the EU. If it ever came to this, then France’s membership of the euro would almost certainly be called into question, not least because separately, Le Pen has called for the return of the French franc.
Macron has avoided being pinned down to detail, but offers France something completely different. He has the highest…