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Macron-Le Pen a fight between two visions of the world

Jean-Pierre Dumas

April 15, 2022

Yes, this is an important time for France, the race to the presidential election is now between two candidates (Macron and Le Pen). Macron is centrist (smart and a moderate socialist). Le Pen is extreme right (close to Trump in the US). She wants to “give back France to the French”. She is a mixture of extreme right from a political point of view (too many foreigners in France), she is skeptical about Europe and NATO (she dares not to say that she is in favor of withdrawing from Europe but she is ambiguous about it). From an economic point of view, she is a socialist (more spending, more civil servants, pension at 60 years old).

Macron was President for five years, his record is not bad, less unemployment (which is the main issue in France, but for the majority of French, the main issue is purchasing power), some structural reforms in terms of professional training, a lot of public aid during the covid crisis, which helped the private sector to continue to survive without firing a lot of people (partial unemployment). Nevertheless, his reformist agenda is quite incomplete, and he is a big spender (public expenditure ratio around 60-57% of GDP in France) and very insufficient tax reform (you cannot reduce tax when the country is burdened by such a high public-expenditure ratio). The necessary pension reform has not been completed (pension expenditure accounts for 14% of GDP, the biggest public expenditure in France and given old age it is not sustainable).

The choice between Macron and Le Pen matters for France and Europe. It is more than a traditional political choice between two candidates (left and extreme right), this is a choice of civilization, Le Pen wants to get out of the military arm of NATO, she wants to antagonize the European system in which France plays a leading role, she is a friend of Putin. On these points she is the opposite of Macron.

Macron is not sure to win today; in the first round, Macron got 28% of the vote and Le Pen 23%; but, in third position comes Mélenchon (22% of the vote). Mélenchon is an extreme left populist. His economic program is close to Le Pen. So Mélenchon’s electors must choose at the second round for Macron, or Le Pen or abstention. All depend on Mélenchon’s vote. Some will vote (secretly) for Mme Le Pen (in spite of the fact she is categorized as extreme right) because they hate Macron and they consider him in favor of the rich.

The rational choice is for Macron. France cannot be run by a populist (as Trump). France should continue to be open to the world and accept world globalization. France should stay within NATO, raise its military budget and accept that the US is the main line of defense against a dictator (the threat to the world is not NATO but Putin’s Russia which attacks an independent country). France should continue to be a leader in Europe. France should continue to enforce sanctions against Russia even if it impacts negatively on the way of living of the French. We cannot have a President lenient to a dictator. Let’s imagine tomorrow a world with Mme Le Pen, Présidente of France, M. Salvini, PM of Italy and Trump US President, will they supply arms to Putin…

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