May 8, 2017

It’s always tricky to try to draw parallels between elections in other nations and American politics because issues and cultures are very different around the world. For instance, some tried to paint this weekend’s French election as a repudiation of Trump-style populism, as “centrist” Emmanuel Macron won a two-thirds landslide over “far right” candidate Marine Le Pen. But in fact, even the terms “centrist” and “far right,” as they apply in France, would be unrecognizable to Americans (the “centrist” would be considered nearly socialist here, while the far-right candidate endorsed maintaining the 35-hour work week and expanding welfare benefits, including lowering the paid retirement age to 60.)

The real takeaways are this: French voters rejected attempts to enforce border security, police immigration and leave the EU (referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s power over the EU, Le Pen said whether she won or lost, France would be ruled by a woman). Both candidates were from outside the longtime political establishment, so the idea that French voters aren’t fed up with the elitist status quo was proven wrong before the run-off even took place. And surprisingly for an election that many claimed could determine whether French culture and sovereignty continues to exist, only a low 65 percent of voters bothered to show up at the polls. Maybe the French motto, “Vive le France” (“Long live France”) should be changed to “Des vacances plus payees!” (“More paid vacation!”)


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