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The French Election Is a Warning for Biden

State of the Union: Protest votes are usually a sign of, well, protest.

The French president enjoys immense power compared to his American counterpart or the British prime minister, especially in domains where he has privilege over the French parliament. That is by design. It would then be prudent to temper the expectations of the “political earthquake” that happened in France recently. After all, there have been periodsof “cohabitation” between the French presidency and the French parliament. 

What is interesting to note, however, is that it was Macron, not Le Pen, who wrecked the French center. Macron created a political force which destroyed the center-left and -right and channeled into the void a political party surrounding Macron as a technocratic personality, rather than a coherent movement. Now, as Macron is unpopular, there is no future for that party or movement—thus both extreme droite and extreme gauche gained in the Parliamentary election. It might not change much in French governance, but with the budgetary power in the hands of whoever will be ultimately victorious, Macron and his “Jupiterian” presidency will be a much diminished force. The idea of sending French troops in Ukraine, or replacing Germany within Europe to lead the European Union’s strategic autonomy, is gone. The age of paralysis is here. 


There are two lessons from this. First, it is a warning to Biden. One cannot claim to “defend democracy” while opposing democratic results and a majority of the public opinion. Europe, and France voted for parties that not just want to cut down drastically on foreign policy interventionism, and illegal mass migration, but also desire to deport millions and destroy the “human rights” framework, which, more often than not, privileges illegal aliens and foreign borders in place of taxpayers and national borders. It is unsustainable, and it deserves to be punished. If liberals won’t see the light on law, order, and national borders, people will vote for illiberals who do, and rightly so. 

Second, it is also a lesson for the right, as Le Pen’s transformation of Rassemblement National is something to emulate. As Francois Valentine wrote, “Le Pen has spent 15 years ‘detoxifying’ her party, purging it of its more extreme members, changing its name, and even trading blows with her father in the process. Today, a staggering 92% of Jews believe that Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Left-wing La France Insoumise contributes to the rise of antisemitism, compared to only 49% for the RN.” Ultimately, the path to power is not through revolution or reaction, but creating a counter-elite that will win elections and reshape society top-down.