The French Election Is Looking Like 2016


We are approaching the end of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, a popular metric by which new commanders-in-chief are graded. The standard, begun during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s tenure, are meant to measure the strength of a president’s popular mandate and political skill. Supposedly, a president will never have an easier time getting things accomplished than during his or her first 100 days in the Oval Office, when he or she tends to be more popular with the public and is seen as “fresh.”

How has Trump, who will hit his 100th day this week, fared?  The mainstream media has largely savaged the controversial former businessman, and even Fox News has declared his performance “mixed.” With North Korea refusing to back down to Trump’s veiled threats of potential military action and liberals in Congress ready to shut down the federal government over funding for a southern border wall, things look pretty bleak for the Donald. 

But he has received a glimmer of hope from Europe, where right-wing nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen has made it to the run-off election for the French presidency.

With Trump claiming a leadership role in the movement that ultimately culminated in Brexit, the colloquial term for Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, a Le Pen victory in the French presidential election would be evidence that many Europeans see things his way. It would be a major Trump victory over the liberal American mainstream media, which has largely sought to portray the former reality TV star as detested by most Europeans. Just as the mainstream media utterly failed to predict a Trump victory in November, could they be failing to acknowledge that many citizens of Western Europe could have Trumpish views?

The mainstream media is declaring Emmanuel Macron, a pro-EU “centrist” who was an economic minister in the incumbent socialist administration, the frontrunner in the run-off election. He received 23 percent of the vote in the first round of the French presidential election, roughly tying the percent received by anti-EU nationalist Le Pen. Both candidates beat out a number of left-wing and right-wing minor-league contenders, raising questions about how effective each will be at picking up support from those they bested. In this regard, the situation in France is similar to the 2016 Republican presidential primaries here at home.

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