Macron hammer blow as Le Pen 'more in tune with daily issues'
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On Sunday France will decide whether to give Mr Macron another five year term in the Elysée or make Ms Le Pen the first female leader and far right President of the Fifth Republic. During Wednesday night’s televised debate between Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen, the incumbent labelled the election a “referendum on Europe”. He argued that the EU protects France from crises and war, and accused his far-right rival of wanting to push through “Frexit” in all but name.
Despite her opponents’ claims Ms Le Pen has dropped the desire to leave the EU from her manifesto, and instead has proposed a European alliance of nations.
She is an admirer of Brexit and has spoken about freeing France from the “straitjacket of Brussels” by giving priority for French nationals ‒ a manifesto pledge which directly contradicts EU law.
Now, Professor Andrew Smith, a contemporary politics professor at the University of Chichester, told Express.co.uk that Mr Macron is presenting Ms Le Pen as an enemy to France’s leading European role in his campaign.
He said: “Macron will try and appeal to powerful elements of French history to talk about France in a leading role which could champion Europe and processes of peace and international cooperation.
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“[These would be] in favour of social benefits and a more productive France.
“I think he will cast Marine Le Pen as an enemy to all of that.”
To press home France’s leading European role Mr Macron is likely to draw on France’s most prominent political figure ‒ Charles De Gaulle, who led France against Nazi Germany and founded the Fifth Republic.
Prof Smith continued: “There has been a consistent message since 2017. Emmanuel Macron spoke about the real divide in politics not being between left and right, but being between ‘progressives’ and ‘nationalists’.
“For Macron he remains very strongly pro-European. It’s at the centre of his message, one of the pillars of his campaign.
“He is currently at the head of the EU council, and he is able to show France shaping Europe, and his whole idea is engaging with Europe, engaging with globalisation, but having France leading it and shaping [it].
“He has also drawn on a De Gaullist message. Emmanuel Macron can talk now, and more comfortably about that De Gaullist influence.
“De Gaulle of course is the towering figure in French politics. He is also always associated with strong nation state-ism.
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“[Mr Macron] has said that there are people who claim the mantle of De Gaulle but in reality they are the ideological inhibitors of those he fought against.”
Most pollsters have Mr Macron narrowly ahead of his far-right rival, while the President’s steady performance in this week’s debate may further consolidate his lead ahead of Sunday.
To Prof Smith, a Le Pen presidency would be “disastrous”, as it would “destabilise” the West at a time in which unity is crucial, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The academic said: “[A Le Pen presidency] would be disastrous because in that model where France looks more like Hungary, what it does is try to weaken the ties of European integration.
“Instead it would be re-focusing on ideas of what Marine Le Pen calls ‘Europe of the nations’, which is an old proto-fascist idea of the ‘Europe of 100 Flags’.
“The Europe of 100 Flags is this old idea about essentially promoting ideas of nation-statism, and a strong association with ideas of ethnic states.
“It would likely see France call a halt to immagration, in a [Donald] Trump style.
“It would likely see France adopt a very different stance in relation to Vladimir Putin.
“Le Pen is very clear that she thinks that people should and could work with Putin, so you’ll probably see France looking at those kinds of steps.
“It could even lead, potentially and eventually, to a NATO withdrawal. Of course, that happened before [under De Gaulle].
“It’s difficult because what these things do is destabilise international alliances at the time in which the value of those is becoming ever clearer.”
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