With just over a week to go to the second and final round of voting for the next president of France’s Fifth Republic, odds makers and bookies have all but stopped taking bets on an all-but-certain defeat by Marine Le Pen on May 7.
Such confidence, however, may be a bit shortsighted. French presidential elections are held every five years. Successful politicians know that, in order to survive, they must take the long view when committing to a career in the highly volatile and unpredictable field of politics.
With Saturday’s thrashing of France’s political elite, a long view certainly deserves even more serious consideration. As such, here are four steps Le Pen needs to take in order to win the French presidency.
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First, and most importantly, Le Pen needs to create additional distance between herself and her father, Jean-Marie le Pen, who founded the National Front in 1972. The elder Le Pen has, in the words of Pat Buchanan, made “radical and foolish statements” regarding foreigners and the Holocaust, statements which both France and the European Union have adjudged as racist and Holocaust-denying. This is a turnoff to the majority of French voters (and the majority of the world), and reason enough for many to refuse a Le Pen vote.
By resigning as National Front party leader recently, the younger Le Pen has provided some distance not only from her father but also from the party’s earlier abrasive and distasteful rhetoric. It remains to be seen, however, whether a less formal relationship with the party, however long it will last, will be enough for a Le Pen win.
Second, while distancing herself from her father’s views, Le Pen should nevertheless take her father’s advice: she should hammer her opponent, Emmanuel Macron, and hard. Billed by popular media as a centrist, the young, attractive and new-to-the-political-scene Macron is in fact the French political and business establishment’s “savior,” one who is satisfied with the statis quo, one who won’t rock the political boat, and one whom the international financial markets adore.
Le Pen should continue to portray Macron as out-of-touch with the day-to-day worries and concerns of the average French worker, family member and pensioner. That is something that she has already done. However, she also needs to solidify in French voters’ minds that Macron is, at the end of the day, uninterested in protecting the French people from attacks by radical Islamacists. Here Le Pen’s most important ally, ironically, is Macron himself. As evidence, following the recent death of a police officer on the Champs Élysées, Macron announced that Islamacist terror would be “part of our daily lives in the years to come.” That phrase should be in every form of Le Pen advertising and should be blared from every loudspeaker at every Le Pen rally until the second and final presidential election May 7.
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Third, and perhaps a more difficult feat, Le Pen should soften her approach to the European Union and towards the euro. This isn’t to suggest, of course, that she reverse course on these controversial topics, which jolt not only financial markets, but also also the nerves of younger, educated city-dwelling voters just getting started with their careers. Le Pen may garner a small but eventually significant percentage of the “urban French millennial” vote by appealing to the electorate. Here Le Pen could, for example, suggest following a Le Pen win an eventual public referendum on France’s relationship to the Brussels behemoth and its choking currency. Always giving the people a choice is a great idea, even if campaign promises may later need to be revised or broken.
Fourth, and despite the irony of saying so, in order to win Le Pen should graciously lose on May 7. Polls and pundits alike envision a spread of perhaps 30 or more points between Macron and Le Pen, but the loss does not need to be permanent. By focusing on the long game—the financial worries of France’s workers and middle class, dissatisfaction with the statis quo, and especially the certain, continuing attacks of Islamacist terrorism—with a steady message and a resolute will Le Pen may successfully set herself up for the next round of France presidential elections in 2024. Populism is not going away, because the globalist elite have neither the desire nor the plans to address the serious concerns of every man and every woman. Le Pen’s success, while perhaps not entirely achievable at the moment, is nevertheless based on an optimistic if not sound footing: on April 23 Le Pen had beaten her and her father’s previous election performances, perhaps portending a brighter future for France, its people and indeed the world.