Hot Take on the European Elections

Arthur Goldhammer
26 May 2019

The polls were wrong. Despite a lackluster campaign, interest in this election was higher than predicted, and turnout rose. The contest between Macron and Le Pen ended about as expected, with Macron holding his own despite six months of Gilets Jaunes protests–a victory of sorts. But the big news was the collapse of the Republicans, who finished with only 8, despite polls showing that François-Xavier Bellamy–a fairly sympa fellow for a reactionary Catholic–might finish with as much as 15 (but it’s true that his numbers have been declining since hitting that high). This poor showing–compare with Fillon’s result in round 1 of the presidential–will make it difficult for Wauquiez to hold on as leader of LR. This is good news for Valérie Pécresse, though it’s hard to see what strategy for putting together a winning coalition she might come up with that would work better than Wauquiez’s poaching on the territory of both Le Pens, challenging Marine for the anti-immigrant vote and Marion Maréchal for the family-values Catho vote and losing on both fronts.

La France Insoumise also failed, falling to the same level as the PS/Place Publique ticket at 6.7.

Another big surprise was the third-place finish for the Greens, at 12.5. This wasn’t quite as big a triumph as that of the German Greens, who scored an historic high with 18 and finished ahead of the SPD, which fell to an equally historic low. There wasn’t much good news for the CDU either. The poor showing by both the CDU and LR makes it less likely that EPP Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber will win a majority in the European Parliament. That would open the door to horse trading over the Commission and ECB presidencies. Michel Barnier could be an alternative, but Germany would then want Jens Weidmann for the ECB, and any number of countries would balk at that, France foremost among them.

Stay tuned. More detailed analyses of the vote may prove interesting.

 

Photo Credit: Copyleft and Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle via Wikimedia commons, “Macron & Le Pen“, CC BY-SA 4.0

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