The liberal center holds in France, but how long can it last?

By Damon Linker The Week

Liberals across the Western world are rejoicing at the news that incumbent Emmanuel Macron roundly defeated the right-wing antiliberal candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round of France’s presidential election on Sunday.

The celebration is warranted. Macron didn’t just win. He won by nearly 17 points — 58.3 to 41.6 percent — a popular-vote margin wider than any seen in a U.S. presidential election since Ronald Reagan won re-election in a landslide nearly 40 years ago. That’s a decisive victory for the center and a resounding defeat for its opponents.

But that doesn’t mean complacency is in order. On the contrary, when the election results are placed in the broader historical context, it’s clear that the battle in France between liberals and antiliberals, center and periphery, is far from over. Indeed, if recent trends continue, the likelihood of a defeat for the center and triumph of the antiliberal right or left will continue to rise, with one of the extremes running a good chance of prevailing in the coming years.


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