Noah Millman, Rod Dreher, and Scott McConnell have already done a fine job of analyzing and reporting on the French presidential election, so there isn’t much more for me to add. The first-round results are an odd combination of a thorough repudiation of the major parties that have governed France for decades–neither the usual center-left or center-right parties’ candidates will advance–and an effective endorsement of more or less maintaining the status quo in a different guise.
It is remarkable that Macron appears to be headed for a landslide victory in the second round despite representing broad continuity with the incumbent president whose approval rating was a comically low 4% as recently as last fall. Macron is no longer a member of Hollande’s party, but previously served as a minister in a Socialist government, and his agenda–to the extent that he articulated one–is mostly the continuation of the same policies that have generated enormous contempt for France’s political class in general and for Hollande in particular. Not for nothing has Hollande been dubbed the “real winner” of the election by some. This supposed “centrism” is going to win by default because the most competitive alternative is even less appealing to most French voters. That doesn’t bode well for Macron’s ability to govern, which could be further hampered by little or no support in parliament.
Macron hasn’t had much to say on foreign policy, but what he has said makes him mostly indistinguishable from Hollande. On Syria in particular, he responded to the U.S. attack on the Syrian government by calling for more military intervention. He qualified this by saying that it should be done under U.N. auspices, but the impulse to meddle even more was immediate. Hollande has been one of the few European leaders consistently in favor of intervention in Syria, and on that issue Macron also unfortunately represents more of the same.