Political scientist: 2018 parliamentary elections to be Macron’s test

Andres Kasekamp.
Andres Kasekamp. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

In the second round of the French presidential election on Sunday, voters could choose between an open or an isolated France, and the voters, predictably, had preferred liberal Emmanuel Macron over nationalist Marine Le Pen, Estonian political scientist Andres Kasekamp told BNS on Monday.

"Observers and analysts generally believed that the candidate who would go against Marine Le Pen in the second round would also become the next president of France. And that is how it went," Kasekamp, a political scientist and professor of Baltic politics at the University of Tartu, told BNS.

Kasekamp pointed out that 15 years ago, Marine Le Pen's father Jean-Marie Le Pen had reached the second round of the presidential election as well. "The pattern of the 2002 presidential election was repeated here. In both cases, the far-right candidate reached the second round, but was unsuccessful getting enough support to be elected," Kasekamp said.

"This election gave French citizens a very clear choice between two completely different world views and approaches," Kasekamp said. An open-minded France had won.

"Running for president was an unexpected and brave move on Macron's part. His ambition has now been fulfilled," Kasekamp said. “Granted, mostly due to the circumstance that the previous favorite of the right-wing, François Fillon, was defeated in the first round because of his financing scandal. This gave Macron the opportunity to step into the picture."

"Macron successfully played his role as an outsider," Kasekamp said. In actual fact, both candidates had been outsiders. "Le Pen is against the elite, Macron on the other hand garnered the support of the elite," he said. At the same time, regardless of the support, Macron had come so far mainly thanks to his ideas, promises, and personality. "He represents that young, dynamic and European-minded approach that drew the voters in."

Kasekamp noted that Macron represented a liberal world view that in reality wasn’t predominant in French society. "A state-centered way of thinking is common both among the French left and right. Macron's liberalism is an Anglo-American world view that is foreign to a large part of the French people."

In the coverage of the election campaigns there had been a lot of talk about a split in the French population, Kasekamp added. Whether or not this was actually the case would become evident after the parliamentary elections in June.

Neither of the two candidates had had the backing of a mainstream political party either. "Usually, the two candidates who reach the second round in France represent the mainstream right-wing party and the mainstream left-wing party," Kasekamp said. In that sense, outcome of this presidential election could affect the parliamentary elections as well.

"This is why Macron will find it difficult to fulfill his campaign promises, because his party, or rather a movement, En Marche, was only founded last year," Kasekamp said. "He will face an unprecedented challenge: to lead his newly created party to victory also in the parliamentary election."

However, it was quite unlikely that En Marche would achieve a majority in the parliament. This meant that Macron would not be able to meet all his promises. At the same time, this could work in his favor, as he would be able to point at the culprit, namely the mainstream parties, Kasekamp said.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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