The French presidential runoff election now underway between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen after their preliminary wins yesterday is a warning shot across the European Union’s bow, and the latest signal of a global embrace of Trump-like nationalism.
Macron and Le Pen, neither members of France’s major political parties, advanced to a May 7 runoff election after leading yesterday’s vote, as the French rejected the two main political groups — the Socialists and the Republicans — that have governed post-war France. Conservative Francois Fillon had just under 20 percent, which was slightly ahead of the far-left’s Jean-Luc Melenchon, who had 19 percent.
Le Pen, a lawyer, has espoused an anti-EU “French-first” platform, which calls for closed borders, tough security, less immigration and dropping the shared euro currency to return to the French franc.
GOP operative Ford O’Connell, an adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said the election shows “political elites are becoming an endangered species, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe.”
“Not only did Le Pen come through, but so did Marcon, and neither of them were from the established political parties,” O’Connell said. “In France, obviously nationalism/populism is on the rise, but what’s unclear is if there are enough voters to carry Le Pen across the finish line. There’s no question that if she wins, the long-term staying power of the EU will seriously be in jeopardy.”