Monday, April 24, 2017

Now the French Election Becomes Interesting

Imagine if after winning the Republican nomination, every Republican rival then joined in to campaign against Trump. That's the closest analogy to the French election.
The field, Le Pen and Macron, shows that the French are just as dissatisfied with the status quo as everyone else. Macron is an empty suit. On top of that he's tied to one of the most unpopular French administrations since Louis XVI. But Le Pen getting this far isn't unprecedented. And the responsible is predictable. Everyone is going all in on Marcon. Except Melenchon who might go all in on Stalin instead.
So the French election will come down to a choice between a fake moderate who will advance many of the same policies as Hollande and a revolution. The real question is whether France wants another revolution or the promise of stability. Will the Euroskeptics from the center and the left, those worried about Islamic terrorism and everyone uncomfortable with the status quo unite behind Le Pen?
The odds aren't great.
European political systems have lower barriers of entry, but high barriers of success. This creates a kind of phony democracy. The Trump Effect is much easier and harder to achieve in Europe because the bar to actually winning is much higher. Once Trump made it to the top of the GOP, his odds were good, even with some Republican defections. But as we saw with Wilders, just making it in isn't enough. Not when the rest of the system will make certain that you can't win.
Le Pen has better odds than Wilders because of the structural differences. And nothing can be ruled out. But revolutions also begin in phases. It's important to remember that.

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