Le Pen’s politics are clever, relevant and well-timed. And like Macron, she also wants France to run the EU. What could possibly go wrong?
Marine Le Pen is probably going to destroy the European Union if she wins the second Presidential round of voting, yet ironically, it is the EU which has created her and put her on the peddle stool where she is today. Failed EU policies which have stifled the French economy and indirectly imposed hardship on millions of people in the Republic coupled with no real effective immigration policy which stops immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East have irritated French people so much that they are moving away from the establishment and looking at voting in the far right leader as a protest vote – a radical move to reboot France as a more dynamic country which protects its markets against foreign goods and protects jobs against immigrants’ entry into the job market. In so many ways, it is Brexit Britain which Emmanuel Macron loathes so much which is providing the vision for a new France, which unlike the UK, would stay in the EU under Le Pen.
Traditionally she said France would be better off if it left the EU but has watered down her Frexit ideas in recent years, probably estimating that financially it would be better for her party to stay in the EU and take more MEP seats at the next European elections. Using the very institution which you despise to promote yourself in your own country, in exactly the way Nigel Farage used the EU to sponsor his own career to where it is today, is what Le Pen is thinking when she did a U-turn on her policy of removing France from the EU. For her, the money that the European Parliament can offer MEPs if they unite and form a pan-European group are just too big to ignore. But she has also factored that to play hardball with the EU, if elected, renegotiating France’s relationship – how much it pays to the EU coffers, for example – will make her a leader by default of the EU institutions in Brussels, ironically, in the same way that Macron sees himself. If elected, the EU will have no choice but to buckle to her demands for a whole swathe of new benefits, which tips the scales towards France making it the most powerful EU member state. Protectionism, which would involve the blockade of thousands of goods entering France (perhaps even from other EU countries) will be one of her priorities which will boost French industries and create jobs. Of course, such a move flies in the face of the ethos of the EU’s single market and it is hard to see how such measures could be compatible with the EU who will take legal action against Paris for threatening the single market – fearful that others might follow with the same strategy.
Make France Great Again
If the EU blocks her demands, then she will have the option to play the referendum card, which, because France is a founding member of the EU, will be like a nuclear threat to the Brussels establishment. Too big a threat to even consider. Her ideas about helping poor people pay their bills is pure genius and mainstream parties like the Socialists and the centre-right (which have been almost obliterated by the French electorate which only gave them 7% between them) have only themselves to blame for not making these priorities theirs when they had the chance. Le Pen and her policies chime with a lot of people who might not like her style but have reached a point of desperation on the economy and the welfare of the poor. Even if she doesn’t win, nothing will be the same again after April 24th as whoever take the Elysee palace will know that her policies of helping the poor and doing more for French companies will have to be the main focus of a Frexit is to be avoided.
But the establishment, which Macron represents straddling the two main political groups on the left and right, will hardly sit back and let her win fairly. She wants France to remain in the EU but also wants it to be more independent in the world, out of NATO and positioned equally between Russia and the U.S. It is this strategy which Macron and his cronies will seize and try and use as a smear against her via the mainstream press in France. She has spoken quite favourably of Putin, even as recently as just a few weeks ago in a BBC interview, and this will be the core of what will be thrown against her as French citizens, like those in most EU countries, have bought the line offered to them that the Russia leader is a new type of brutal authoritarian leader and that the Ukrainian elite are honest, decent, god-fearing folks with their leader some kind of Messiah. Expect a smear campaign any day now.