Tomorrow, the first round of France’s presidential election will be held in a climate of polarization, war, and —contradictory as it may sound— a certain degree of French apathy.
President Emmanuel Macron is likely to be reelected, although in a less comfortable position when compared to his numbers five years ago.
His main rival is, as it was back then, Marine Le Pen, one of the three Russia-friendly candidates these elections have (being ultra-nationalist Éric Zemmour and communist Jean-Luc Mélenchon the other two).
In this scenario, Macron’s victory shouldn’t surprise anyone. However, it is the reasons behind his triumph that deserve analysis and attention.
Les Républicains, France’s “traditional” right, is facing a crisis without parallel in modern times. Its candidate, Valérie Pécresse, is neither respected nor liked — and I’m talking mainly about her own partisans. Superficial and uncharismatic, Pécresse is, painfully for her (and for France), no Sarko.
The “moderate” left doesn’t look any better. Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo (who happens to be Paris’ mayor) is a clever and strong-willed woman who’s won the respect of the opposition, but represents a dying party that doesn’t know what it stands for anymore.
The main challenge, nevertheless, is popular participation. The level of absenteeism is expected to meet no match this Sunday, deepening a phenomenon that’s been growing for decades.
Of course, the name of France’s next president won’t be really known until Sunday the 24th. Yet, major changes are not on the horizon.
And being the world in the state it is, I shall add “luckily.”
This article originally appeared in El American’s newsletter on April 9, 2022. Subscribe for free here.