National Front leader Marine Le Pen is now one step closer to the French presidency. It’s a development that has France, the European Union and the world at large carefully observing what comes next.
Le Pen and her far-right populist politics were a hit at the polls today. Both she and centrist Emmanuel Macron emerged as the two candidates projected to advance to May 7’s presidential runoff election. The pre-written narrative in this brand of showdown is that Le Pen is campaigning on a nationalist (and arguably Trump-esque) ideology that clashes with Macron’s view that endorses a stronger European Union and reforms to modernize the economy. Le Pen, daughter of National Front party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, makes for an intriguing opponent for Macron. Le Pen’s views are unapologetically (if attempting for a more finessed brand of bluster) hard-right, while Macron has carried himself as neither left or right.
France’s traditional presidential heavy hitters are conspicuously absent from next month’s election. It’s an element that changes the dynamics of traditional party loyalty and places Le Pen vs. Macron in a spot to engage beyond traditional party branding. A victory for Le Pen would be yet another victory for the wave ballot box surprises that have given us President Trump and Brexit becoming a reality.
“There is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right,” said center-right candidate François Fillon Sunday. “Therefore I am voting for Emmanuel Macron.”
Calculations from go-to numbers guru Nate Silver (who hasn’t had things easy lately) has data suggesting Macron is holding a less tenuous lead over Le Pen for the 2nd Round than Clinton or Remain did over their counterparts.
No matter the result, the outcome will have a major impact on France, Europe and quite possibly the globe at large. For what it’s worth,White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus insisted on NBC’s Meet The Press that Trump was not actively rooting for Le Pen.
““No, not at all,” he said. “I think he may have some opinions, as far as who he thinks might win. But he certainly doesn’t have a preference, other than a right-of-center person who believes in the free market.”
Trump previously tweeted that the recent shooting in Paris would have a big impact on today’s election.