‘Hope of EU’? European elites flock to praise Macron, some call for Le Pen’s defeat
Despite both candidates being neck-and-neck in the first round of the French election, according to preliminary results, it appears that many ruling politicians and eurocrats are not shying away from openly endorsing centrist Macron ahead of the decisive vote on May 7.
Conservative candidate François Fillon conceded defeat before the results were officially announced, claiming sole responsibility for it. He added that he would vote for Macron in round two, arguing that “there is no other choice but to vote against the far right.”
Socialist party candidate Benoît Hamon also called on voters to defeat Le Pen’s National Front while also taking full responsibility for his party’s dismal performance in the election.
Independent leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon stayed impartial, saying that he will not endorse anyone in the second round, adding that he will respect the official results when they are announced.
Melenchon was just one leading figure distancing himself from both candidates.
François Asselineau, candidate of the Republican People's Union, lashed out at Macron, calling him “a puppet of the financial oligarchy,” while addressing his supporters on Sunday night. He was of a similar unfavorable opinion about Marine Le Pen, saying, “It is the Le Pen family that keeps the system in place.” The chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, Jean-Frédéric Poisson, also refused to endorse either of the candidates, calling both “disaster scenarios” on Twitter.
Hollande govt backs ex-Socialist Macron
Meanwhile, French authorities and members of the ruling Socialist party expressed their support for Macron, a former socialist. Macron stepped down from the post of Economy Minister under François Hollande’s government to join a bid in the elections as an independent candidate.
Hollande called Macron to congratulate him on qualifying for the second round, Reuters reported, citing the Elysees Palace.
Socialist Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also called for support for Macron in a lengthy statement.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called to mobilize and vote for Macron in round two of the election.
A call to “block the extreme right and vote for Macron” was joined by Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, where, according to preliminary results, Le Pen suffered a heavy defeat, gathering just under 5 percent of vote.
In the meantime, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls also joined the pro-Macron chorus. Valls, who quit his post for the presidential race, was beaten by Benoit Hamon during Socialist primary elections.
Germany for ‘pro-EU’ Macron
German politicians were one of the first to show their clear favorite in the French presidential election as preliminary results started to emerge.
Vice Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel wrote that he is glad that “the only Pro-European candidate [Macron]” is leading in the French elections.
A German MP and Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, stated that the result shows that “France and Europe can jointly win!”
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert also tweeted his support for Macron’s pro-EU and social market economy platform, wishing him “All the best for the next 2 weeks.”
Gut, dass @EmmanuelMacron mit seinem Kurs für eine starke EU + soziale Marktwirtschaft Erfolg hatte. Alles Gute für die nächsten 2 Wochen.— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) April 23, 2017
EU officials wish Macron luck
While there was no element of surprise in EU officials being in favor of a pro-block candidate as opposed to the Eurosceptic Le Pen, who has promised to either hold a Frexit referendum as part of her campaign or renegotiate France’s membership terms, some took it a step further in their praise of Macron.
The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, went as far as calling Macron “the hope and future of our generation.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also “congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his result in the first round and wished him all the best for the next round,” Juncker’s spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, said on Twitter.
‘Product of media’?
There has been a “massive media campaign in favor of Macron” before the first round of the election, and it will only become more intense ahead of the May 7 vote, believes writer and political commentator Jean Bricmont.
“There’ll be massive propaganda and everybody you see… [Francois] Fillon is behind Macron. The socialists [are] behind Macron,” he told RT in Paris, describing a wave of reactions to the preliminary results of the vote.
Bricmont, who says he is no supporter of the “divisive” Le Pen that may be “obsessed with Islam” at the same time laments the amount of demonization and Nazi-labeling that he says is being used in order to sway voters in favor of Macron. Many French people are casting their votes for Macron “in order to block [Marine] Le Pen,” Bricmont believes.
“Macron hasn’t made any promise of anything... His meetings are relatively empty. He is a complete product of the media,” argues Bricmont, who is pessimistic about the candidate winning as he brands him a potential “disaster for France.”
This victory would be “the revenge of Hillary Clinton, the revenge of the EU … and a revenge against Brexit,” he says.
‘It’s the people who vote, not the establishment’
Michael Patrick Flanagan, former member of the US House of Representatives, told RT he believes the distaste of the European establishment toward Le Pen can be attributed to their desire to hold on to privileges that come with power.
“These are people in the establishment whose fortunes, whose lives, whose position in the world is based upon the existence of the EU,” Flanagan said of those European politicians who are being especially vocal in their opposition to Le Pen as the potential French head of state.
“They like those positions, they like being in charge, they like being the ones calling the shots and they don’t like this populist movement, people that might be interested in running their own lives,” he said, adding that what the establishment dread the most is the overhaul of the existing bureaucratic order.
“This is dangerous to them and the positions they like to be in, so they screw on the warmest smile they can, they brandish their credentials and they endorse on of their own to continue the status quo which is to lord over the people there,” Flanagan said, arguing that despite the odds similarly being against Le Pen, she is capable of a breakthrough in the second round, citing the examples of last year’s Brexit vote and the US election.
“I think she can get through. It is the people who will come to the vote in the end.”