WASHINGTON American liberals are anxiously watching Sundays presidential election in France, where they fear a victory by the far-right Marine LePen would undermine the Wests newly emboldened defense of democracy from both external Russian militarism and internal ethnonationalism.
Macron, a centrist former investment banker, is no hero of progressives on either side of the Atlantic, but they say the alternative is far worse, so the choice is obvious.
This is a genuine threat to progressives vision of a pluralistic, multiethnic democracy, said Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Everyone should be clear that a Le Pen victory would be a massive boost for the Trump movement here.”
Le Pen, the anti-immigrant party leader who has long been friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, represents the far-rights best chance in years of taking control of a major European power after finishing within 5 percentage points of President Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the election this month.
Polls show Macron, running for a second term, has expanded his lead and most expect he will prevail in Sunday’s runoff. But the polls were off in the first round and analysts say supporters of a left-wing candidate who narrowly missed the runoff may stay home or even cast a protest vote for the anti-establishment Le Pen over the unpopular Macron.
The most important thing to remember is that no French president has won re-election since 2002, so hes sort of starting with the deck stacked against him, said G. Elliott Morris, a polling analyst for the Economist.
While there are many differences between the two countrys politics and their leaders, Macron, like President Joe Biden, is facing rising prices due to inflation, disillusionment after the initial excitement of his victory, and accusations of being out of touch with the daily struggles of ordinary people.
Macron’s and Bidens approval ratings are nearly identical in polling averages, with the share who disapprove about 10 percentage points higher than those who approve.
Le Pen, like former President Donald Trump and his allies, has railed against le wokisme, a Francification of wokeism, and stoked resentment against Macron and his ilk of cosmopolitan elites for allegedly selling out French culture and workers, drawing particularly strong support from struggling post-industrial areas and rural territory outside major metro areas.
The overarching global theme here seems to be a reorientation from the class-based politics of the 20th Century to the identity-based politics of the 21st Century, Morris said.
Some on the American left say the deficit hawks in the Democratic Party should note how Le Pen has found success by championing right-wing cultural views shes called for prohibiting Muslim woman from wearing head scarves in public, for instance while outflanking the centrist Macron on some economic issues.
Le Pen has attacked Macron from the left over his plans to cut social welfare programs to make the country more appealing to business by, among other things, raising the retirement age from 62 to 65.