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Experts react: It's Macron vs. Le Pen, with Europe's future on the line | Politico - Apr 10, 2022 |

The centrist Macron will face right-wing stalwart Le Pen in a rematch of their 2017 runoff. Macron won that race easily, though this April 24 matchup is shaping up to be much closer amid the war in Ukraine and global economic disruption.

Experts from our Europe Center are here to break down the results and what they mean for France, Europe, NATO, and the world at large.

French politics is a field of ruins

The first round of the French presidential election today has confirmed that Macron has not succeeded during his mandate to respond to the political crisis he had taken advantage of in 2017 to be unexpectedly elected. The far-right and far-left candidates got 53 percent of the votes combined while the traditional political parties, the conservative (Les Républicains) and the socialist (Parti Socialiste), which have dominated French political life for decades, sank to under 5 percent and under 2 percent, respectively. As for the Greens, they have not overcome their problem of credibility to become a mainstream party and are stagnating at a mediocre 4.5 percent.

In other words, French political life is more than ever a field of ruins: Macron is leading a centrist block of nearly 30 percent, but his only credible adversaries are extremists.

The view from Brussels: Le Pen presents an existential crisis for the EU

As expected, the French presidential election's second round will be a repeat of 2017. But here in Brussels, there is a very different atmosphere, as people watch the election, than there was five years ago. In 2017, fresh off the shock victories of Brexit and then US President Donald Trump, people had intense anxieties about the prospect of a Le Pen victory. This year the French election isn't being very much discussed in Brussels. Obviously, the war in Ukraine is taking up most of people's attention. But there also seems to be a feeling of inevitability for Macron's reelection--a feeling somewhat reinforced by Macron's somewhat comfortable lead of more than 4 percentage points over Le Pen in the first round, despite recent polls suggesting a possible tie. There were 2.7 percentage points between them in the 2017 election's first round.

That being said, a Le Pen win would be no less of an existential crisis for the European Union (EU) now than it was in 2017. The timing would probably be even more serious given the war in Ukraine and Le Pen's ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. France is the only significant military power in the EU. It holds the union's only permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and is the only EU member that is a nuclear power. If France were to pull out of the efforts to sanction Russia, it would be a body blow to the West.

... The prospect for NATO is no less gloomy. Le Pen has called for France to pull out of NATO's integrated command structure "so as to be no longer caught up in conflicts that are not ours."

France's liberal base is aging fast. Macron now needs to win over angry younger voters | CNBC |

This time around, the threat of a Le Pen presidency is real | Open Democracy |

My best guess remains - After the dust clears, Macron wins!.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Apr 15th, 2022 at 11:01:57 AM EST

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