The pundit class, intelligentsia, billionaires, and establishment politicians are getting the band back together. After getting most political decisions since the Iraq War incorrect and failing miserably to stop Brexit and Donald Trump, they’ve decided to use their influence, money, and knowledge to stop Marine Le Pen.
France’s political outcast, Le Pen, came in second during the first round of voting in Sunday’s election earning 21.4 percent of the vote to left-wing centrist Emmanuel Macron, who gained 23.9 percent.
Mainstream center-right and center-left parties both failed to make the runoff for the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic, but that doesn’t mean they’re staying out of it. All parties have endorsed Macron as have their counterparts in America.
Everyone from President Obama’s old campaign team to the American Enterprise Institute to writers for National Review have insisted that Macron is the conservative candidate.
American conservatives backing Macron look at him as the lesser of two evils because of his support of changing labor laws and support of the European Union, as opposed to Le Pen’s positions on protectionism and Euroscepticism.
A slightly freer market is not enough to get behind Macron over Le Pen. She wants to renegotiate France’s position in the behemoth EU and end the Schengen Agreement that allows free movement of all people in the EU, which has made their country basically borderless.
Le Pen wants to use the country’s intelligence service to deport anyone suspected of plotting a terrorist attack, and curb legal immigration as well as welfare programs available to recent migrants. Macron wants to open France to more migrants and take a more German approach to the refugee crisis by taking in hundreds of thousands annually.
While Le Pen has promised to fight the growing threat of Islamic terrorism that has claimed more than 500 French lives since 2015, Macron has insisted he will “not give into fear.”
Even on the economy, while Le Pen is an economic patriot who rejects globalism, she is still not a Bernie Sanders progressive. She wants to cut income taxes for low-income workers, simplify the tax law, and cut payroll taxes to encourage businesses to grow. Macron wants to cut the corporate tax rate and public spending.
It’s doubtful that either of them will be able to pass their agenda, especially Macron, for two simple reasons: the French don’t like capitalism and neither presidential candidate is running with a political party that has a legislative majority.
The French have never been fond of free markets, adopting a dirigiste model of economics that supports state intervention and prioritizes stability over progress.
As a result, France has one of the youngest retirement ages, generous unemployment benefits, and very low levels of economic growth. Only in such a country could the far-left candidate who wanted a 100 percent tax on the wealthy to come in fourth place in Sunday’s election.
Views of capitalism are so bad that a 2011 Reuters poll found that the French have a more negative opinion of capitalism than China, a communist country.
Macron currently has no political party, although he’s promised to field candidates in the June legislative elections, and Le Pen’s Front National Party only has two seats in the National Assembly. Meaning neither one will have the votes to push their agenda, especially one that wants to cut public spending like Macron’s.
Mainstream American and British conservatives still believing that they should prioritize Macron’s small empty market reforms over patriotism and people are inherently misguided. Their failure is the reason the world has produced Brexit, Trump, and Le Pen.
On security, immigration, patriotism, the European Union, and even some areas of economics, Le Pen is the conservative choice or the most conservative that France is able to produce.