I had been under the impression from both international and domestic news that French President Emmanuel Macron was the Golden Boy of Europe, set to supplant figures such as Amera’s President and Germany’s Chancellor as the leader of the free world. If that’s the case, the fever hasn’t lasted long in his own country. Macron’s numbers have been taking a nosedive of late and the most recent polling for the upcoming European Parliamentary elections hold even more bad news. Macron’s party, Republic on the Move (LREM), has fallen behind the Rassemblement National (RN) party of Marine le Pen. (RN is what used to be named the National Front.) This represents yet another significant shift to the right in Europe and Macron’s supporters are getting nervous. (The Telegraph)
France’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party jumped ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM for the first time in a poll of voting intentions for May 2019 European Parliament elections.
An Ifop poll published on Sunday showed the centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) with 19 percent of voting intentions compared to 20 percent at the end of August, while far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s RN – formerly the National Front – rose to 21 percent from 17 percent previously.
Together with the seven percent score of sovereignist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and one percent each for “Frexit” parties led by former Le Pen associate Florian Philippot and Francois Asselineau, far-right parties won a combined 30 percent of voting intentions, up from 25 percent end August.
We should keep in mind that this polling is being done for the European Parliament elections, not the next round of French elections. Also, they don’t go to the polls until May so a lot can happen between now and then. But that’s no reason to write these results off. The EP elections matter, particularly because the winners not only represent France in the EU but determine who will be voting in and leading in many of the EU’s policymaking entities such as the European Commission. Also, most European nations have come to see these elections as significant predictors of what will happen in the next round of national elections.
Before anyone gets too excited, I would note that this news brings on the feeling that we’ve seen this movie before. The National Front began making waves in the French elections of 2012 and then really began building support in the 2017 race. With increased incidents of terrorism and growing opposition to mass immigration and the European Union itself, it began looking like le Pen might be on her way to a leadership position. And then the elections happened and it all fell apart.
Will things be different in their elections of 2019 and beyond? It’s possible, but the French have largely continued to lean toward their more moderate candidates. The far left has plunged in popularity, but the parties who favor “Frexit” and hardline immigration policies still seem well short of a majority. Given their multiparty system and the need to build ruling legislative coalitions, I wouldn’t start hanging a frontrunner tag on Marine le Pen just yet.