By Joe Attard, Marxist.Com
The first round of the French presidential elections represented a watershed moment in the political situation. Above all, we saw a tremendous rejection of the establishment. The traditional parties were decimated, and so-called ‘extremist’ candidates received over 50 percent of the vote. Left-winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon was denied a place in the final round by barely one percentage point, thanks largely to the wrecking behaviour of other left parties. The ‘centrist’ incumbent Emmanuel Macron now faces a knife-edge race in round two against Marine Le Pen of National Rally (RN).
Abstention was very high, at over 26 percent, suggesting that millions of French citizens are ras le bol – sick to the back teeth with all of the political parties, who in their eyes are equally incapable of improving their lives. French society is heavily polarised, the status quo is totally discredited, and no matter who ultimately wins the presidency, the stage is set for almighty eruptions that will reverberate throughout the whole of Europe.
Pollsters initially expected a comfortable victory for Macron, who like other western leaders sees the war in Ukraine as an opportunity to whip up national patriotic hysteria. This move initially saw him leap to 30 percent in the polls, against 18 percent for Le Pen and 12 percent for Mélenchon. Having championed a diplomatic approach to Putin up until the invasion (mindful of France’s reliance on Russian gas and oil), Macron closed ranks with the rest of the European bourgeoisie in trumpeting his commitment to NATO, as well as sanctions on Russia and “lethal aid” (i.e. sending weapons) to assist the Ukrainian war effort. He even started imitating Ukrainian President Zelenskey’s wardrobe, exchanging his tailored suit for a green hoodie and stubble, in a pathetic attempt to benefit from some reflected glory.