After yesterday’s first round in the French election the EU is breathing a sigh of relief. The dreaded result of the two anti-EU candidates, Front Nationale’s Marine Le Pen and Communist Jean-Luc Melenchon advancing to the May 7th run-off election did not come to pass.
Centrist empty-suit Emmanuel Macron took first place ahead of Le Pen by a couple of points, while Melenchon came in a close fourth to Conservative Francois Fillon. For once, the pre-election opinion polls were accurate. They had the final result pretty well nailed down to within a point for all four major candidates
Will wonders never cease?
Because, if you remember the results for the last three major elections in which the powers-that-be were wary of the opinion polls were off by multiple sigmas. Financial markets woke up the next day stunned.
The media had to scramble to retain narrative consistency. Cognitive dissonance ruled the day.
In 2015, in the run up to the British Parliamentary elections we were bombarded with the prospect of a ‘hung’ parliament. Massive over-sampling by pollsters of Labor and Liberal Democrats did not accurately capture the mood of the country and the Tories walked away with an outright majority of seats.
We know what happened last June with Brexit. Donald Trump’s victory was cast as a 98% to 2% long shot on the eve of the election, even though I knew that those numbers were a complete lie.
The shock was so overwhelming for most people that in their minds there had to be some nefarious external force – THE RUSSIANS! – which affected the outcome. The Left still cannot accept that they lost the war of ideas.
But, yesterday, in France, the numbers held up. So what does that ultimately mean?
Macron has the support of the establishment. The EU leadership was falling all over themselves stumping for him the moment the first reliable data was released. They understand the threat that Le Pen’s support represents.
Now, conventional wisdom has it that the other parties will rally around Macron to shut out Le Pen. Because that is what has always happened in the past. But, like the pollsters who used statistical models (*cough* Nate Silver *cough*) of past elections to wrongly predict Hillary was a 49 to 1 favorite over Trump, looking backwards cannot necessarily capture the present without taking into consideration every variable.
And, guess what? The variables involved are simply unknowable.
The France of today is not the France of 2002 when Jacques Chirac pasted Marine Le Pen’s father with 82% of the run-off vote. The France of today is not the same France that elected Socialist Francois Hollande. He’s leaving office with a 4% approval rating.
That’s worse than Congress and the Media. Merde!
The big questions are how strong Macron’s support is and can he make the case to Conservatives that backed Fillon? Macron is not substantially different than Hollande. He is an empty-suit Europhile who is offering to tinker with what is wrong without engaging in the kind of wholesale reform that is needed to remake France.
His 24% he earned yesterday may be closer to his ceiling than anyone in Brussels is willing to admit.
Le Pen, on the other hand, is talking about those things. Her support is surging. The crowds she speaks to are loud, passionate and growing. This is a true populist uprising of the type that rolled the dice on Donald Trump and Brexit despite the unknowns.
The headlines are playing out in her favor every day. The rise of Melenchon to 19%, mostly at the expense of the Socialist Benoit Hamon, also dovetails with Melenchon’s positioning himself even farther than Le Pen to take France out of the EU.
That’s 40% of the run-off vote right there committed to the radical position of the day, Frexit, versus 20%. It’s not hard to believe that half of Fillon’s supporters would choose her over Macron on issues that pertain to normalizing relations with Russia, recognizing Crimea as Russian and an overhaul of domestic policy that puts French people first and the EU second.
Remember, it’s not like Hollande’s punitive taxes and foreign adventurism are well-liked.
4% support. F-O-U-R.
And this is what has the leadership of the EU in a real panic. Today they breathe a sigh of relief that there is still a good chance that Macron can save their political skins in two weeks.
But, the trends are not in their favor. For even if Le Pen is not the one to take back French sovereignty from the EU the stage is set for the next election or political crisis.
Simply put, these people are tone-deaf to the realities of the day, still believing, like Democrats in the U.S., that it isn’t them voters don’t like it’s that people don’t make good choices. This is the essence of Progressivism as an ideology, distrust in the common rubes to make the right choices for society.
A Le Pen loss in two weeks will look to them as having dodged a bullet and allow them the opportunity to continue with their ruinous social engineering plans. Between this and Mark Rutte’s win in the Netherlands over Geert Wilders they will believe they can go on, business as usual, fiddling while Europe burns.
And that’s what should scare them the most.