Is Macron the only real choice for France? - SÜLEYMAN SEYFI ÖĞÜN

Is Macron the only real choice for France?

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are the only candidates to make it to the second round of France's presidential elections. Considering the distribution of votes in the first round, it would not be wrong to foresee that guaranteed support for Le Pen will come from Eric Zemmour’s voter base, who received 7.1 percent of the votes and has even more extreme-right tendencies than Le Pen. Meanwhile, Macron is more than capable of matching this with the support of the 4.8 percent vote he will garner from center-right politician V. Pécresse, who is ideologically close to him; 4.6 percent from environmentalist Yannick Jadot; and 3.1 percent from center-right populist J. Lassalle. Socialist Parisian Mayor A. Hidalgo already made statements directing his 1.8 percent voter base to Macron. Though we can’t say for certain, the course of events signals that Macron will win despite his complete failures and fluctuating policies. In other words, if the French public does, indeed, elect Macron, this will not be for his grand leadership skills, but rather because he is the only chance they have to prevent Le Pen from being elected, as they see her as a “great threat.”

The political landscape that emerged in the central Western world post-World War II was built over two sturdy pillars, which were identified as the center-right and center-left. These two formations had established a systemic consensus between themselves. The center-right would increase investments and limit sharing, while in the next phase, the center-left would come to power, and re-share the fruits of those investments. This was a mechanically operating system that worked like a Swiss watch. It seemed like the Conservative Party and the Labour Party in the U.K. had divided the work between them. The state of Nordic Europe was no different. Germany maintained the same system with the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party, occasionally using the Free Democratic Party as a “spare tire.” The emerging landscape consisted of variations of the Republican-Democrat division in the U.S. The equilibrium in France and Italy, countries that are more pluralist and divided than all the rest, was complex enough to lead to instability from time to time, even though they were subject to the same principle.

The center-right purified itself of racist, jingoistic elements, while the center-left was based on Eduard Bernstein’s dominant ideology, which was highlighted by the Second International, an organization of socialist and labor parties formed in 1889. Racist and jingoistic inclinations were not permitted in the system for a long time. Socialist and social-democratic parties were moving away from revolutionist communist parties that imposed a system change. Parties of the system were left guessing for a long time. Since the Soviets were among the primary winners of the war, communist parties, excluding Germany, were able to find space for themselves in the system. Although these parties, which consolidated great power in the previous century and established a base in France, Italy, post-falangist Spain, Portugal, and Greece, their development had come to a halt. They would receive millions of votes in France and Italy, but they failed to come to power. Three major communist parties, Italian, French, and Spanish, used all their might to develop towards the late 1970s a trend known as Eurocommunism, through which they eliminated revolutionist claims and declared a systemic position. However, they were unable to prevent the deterioration and disintegration that would follow.

The notorious globalization processes that were revealed post-Cold War deeply shook the world’s political centers. The center-right overcame this blow with the least damage. It wasted no time in adapting its own ideology to match the requirements of financial capitalism. This was what bore the fruits of Reaganism and Thatcherism. The center-left, on the other hand, was in a great void. Social state practices were being excluded from the system’s functional world and branded as outdated operations. Control was largely in the hands of new right-wing administrations. The new leftist wave, the environmentalists, and, primarily, the feminist movement, gender fights, and various collectives divided the center-left. Social democratic and socialist parties were no longer productive. Tony Blair’s third-wave movement demonstrated how the left could become pro-right.

The neoliberal charm fading away as a result of the grave crises of the 2000s drove new right-based center parties to face the same fate. Xenophobia and jingoist inclinations escalated in Europe. They quickly structured and integrated themselves into the system. In brief, the center-right is being heavily pressured by the far right, and the center-left by the far right. The battle is between moderate and non-moderate tendencies rather than a fight between the left and right - very much like what is happening in France today. The threshold may not be overcome again in France, and the center-right will win. However, what will happen in the next stage seems ambiguous. This indicates that the economic system is no longer systemic, and political systems are destined for the same fate. Political behaviors, preferences, and actions are no longer foreseeable. The reactionary choices made by the new electorate, known as generation Z, may further intensify this. Macron was able to garner as much as 20 percent of the vote from electorates aged between 18-24 years. Yet, left-wing candidate Melanchon was the most popular name in this faction with 34 percent of the votes. Then again, Le Pen managed to scrape up 25 percent of their votes. The transformation of political behavior, rational preferences being replaced by reactions, and thus being open to all sorts of vulnerabilities is the root of the danger. This is the true matter of concern.

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