As everyone knows, the second round of French elections yesterday put Emmanuel Macron in the Elysee Palace as the President, replacing socialist Francois Hollande.  Hollande was a decent man, and tempered his socialist views when in office.  But that’s not the news or opinion that matters, it’s the defeat of Macron’s rival, Marine Le Pen of the French National Front, that is significant.

In the first round election, two weeks ago, those two emerged as the largest vote-getters, eliminating Melenchon and Fillon, who represented the socialist wing and the establishment, respectively.  The important news for centrists, is that Macron was their candidate.  Had Le Pen, a fairly extreme nationalist won, France might have followed Britain in exiting from the Euro economy, and that could well have been the death knell of that important coalition/organization.  And the victory was substantial, a 2 to 1 victory;  in the U.S. a candidate with that kind of margin would declare “an incredible and never-before mandate!”

Macron has his work cut out for him, with the country’s economic malaise, youth unemployment, over-regulation, non-assimilation of immigrants, and a host of smaller problems.  His youth and inexperience will not help him, and we wish him well in his endeavors.  But again, the important thing for us, is that after Brexit, after the Trump election, after the rise of nationalist parties in Hungary, Greece, and elsewhere, after Putin’s nationalist hold on Russia, a center party was able to win, and win significantly.  Just as socialists in one country applaud the victory of socialists in another, nationalists in one feeling strengthened by the victory of nationalists in another, we centrists (assuming you are with me), should feel both relief at Macron’s victory, and increased hope that our views can prevail here in the United States of America.

2 thoughts on “Vive la France!

  1. I agree with you – it’s unusual that the Center holds. It is a reminder that had Hillary Clinton run a campaign that produced more of a centrist view and a more concrete economic blueprint for success, she would almost certainly be president today.

    There was also a really interesting article in The Economist that ran last week (before the general election in France but after the first election that determined the Macron vs. LePen run-off) that showed a fictitious “what if France had an electoral college system that was designed like the one in the US?” It’s short and worth a quick read here:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/04/daily-chart-19

    and is a reminder that our system, which was designed in The Great Compromise during the Constitutional Convention along with the composition of the Senate, is something that we are still living with 250 years later with significant repercussions for how our government works (or these days, does not work). The more polarized our society gets, the more we’ll see winners in the Popular Vote lose the Electoral College, which will both prompt more cries for Electoral College reform and fiercer rejection of that reform.

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    1. Some interesting thoughts, but I’m not certain I agree with your Hillary premise. Given the movement of both parties to the extremes, Hilary might have lost in the primary to Bernie, had she been more centrist. And had she beaten him under those circumstances, more of his supporters might have stayed home at the general election, cancelling out her gains in the center.

      It is hard to see how the US will ever change the electoral college system–there are a larger number of small states who gain power than large states that lose power under the current system, and it takes a supermajority of state legislatures to amend the Constitution, if I’m not mistaken.

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