Sunday, May 07, 2017

France Avoids Making America's Mistake

French president-elect Emmanuel Macron

With most of the votes counted, right wing Neo-fascist French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has gone down to a nearly 2 to 1 defeat to centrist Emmanuel Macron who will be the youngest French leader since Napoleon Bonaparte.  Le Pen tried to excite the same emotions of hate and resentment that took Trump to the White House but French voters seemingly saw the dangerous the toxic brew Le Pen was peddling - in sharp contrast to aggrieved white voters in America, many of who will lose their health insurance coverage if the current hideous of Trumpcare were to pass. Hopefully, Trump's victory and the aftermath here in America proved cautionary to French voters and will do the same in Germany when it holds elections in September, 2017.  One can only hope that Macron can reinvigorate the French economy and help unify the European Union after the UK's foolish exit vote.  The Washington Post looks at the election results.  Here are highlights: 
The anti-E. U. French leader Marine Le Pen’s larger-than-expected defeat Sunday in her nation’s presidential election was a crushing reality check for the far-right forces who seek to overthrow Europe: Despite the victories for Brexit and Donald Trump, they are likely to be shut out of power for years.
Given one choice after another since Trump’s U.S. presidential victory, Western European voters have delivered mainstream candidates to office despite a post-November sense that an anti-immigrant populist wave was washing over the Western world. Far-right candidates in Austria, the Netherlands and France have faltered. The euroskeptic far-right party in Germany has collapsed in recent polls ahead of September elections. And an unforgiving election calendar now offers few routes into power for years.
The thwarted momentum comes despite clear evidence that views that would have been taboo to express just a few years ago are no longer too toxic to exclude politicians from coming a breath away from leadership. When Le Pen’s father reached a presidential runoff in 2002, his opponent refused even to debate with him, so unacceptable to the mainstream were his views. This time, many French citizens sat out the election altogether because they detested both Le Pen and Macron — even though the pro-European centrist Macron offered a vastly different platform from his opponent. Le Pen’s result, just above 34 percent with most of the vote counted, was still a historic high for her party.
French people have chosen the continuity candidate,” a visibly disappointed Le Pen said in a brief concession address. She said she would seek to rename her National Front party, a measure of the extent to which her defeat rattled supporterswho just weeks ago harbored hopes of capturing the Elysee Palace.  Instead, Le Pen’s numbers sank in the two weeks since she placed second in the first round of the French elections.
[T]he failure of the far-right to seize office comes in stark contrast to expectations in November that Trump’s ascendance in the United States would unleash a global wave of populist politicians. Le Pen was one of the first leaders around the world to congratulate Trump the night of his victory. Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders exulted the day after. And Trump advisers and top European far-right leaders conferred in the weeks after the U.S. election.
The subsequent elections have shown a clear trend in Western Europe: Voters are sick of the mainstream and fed up with their leaders. But they are still not ready to hand power to the far-right. The chaotic first months of the Trump presidency may actually have hurt Europe’s populists rather than helping them.
European leaders rushed to turn the page on a grim year for the bloc, embracing Macron’s victory as the first step in the rejuvenation of an embattled alliance against forces that would tear it apart. Many mainstream leaders feared political Armageddon if Le Pen had won. In Brussels, the seat of the E.U., cheers could be heard in the streets the moment the exit polls were released Sunday evening, as though a favorite soccer team clinched a match.
In Germany, meanwhile, the far-right Alternative for Germany has collapsed in opinion polls in recent months following post-Trump heights. The party presided over a smaller but still telling defeat on Sunday, bringing up the rear in Sunday’s vote in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with projections showing it winning less than 6 percent of vote.
Macron hopes to soften Germany’s exacting insistence on fiscal austerity as he imposes sweeping pro-business reforms inside his own country. If he succeeds, he may help disarm anti-E. U. voices across the continent. But if he fails to jump-start France’s economy — and Europe’s — he will fuel questions about whether the European Union is helping or hurting its citizens’ lives. 

I wish Macron lots of luck and success.  The far right needs to crawl back under the rocks from whence it emerged.  

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