Within two weeks, French voters must choose between the ultra-liberalist Emmanuel Macron and the racist ultra-nationalist Marine Le Pen. The split result in Sunday’s elections revealed a divided society with no clear vision on how to confront its economic and social challenges.
For the first time in the history of the 5th Republic, the largest traditional parties (Socialists and Republicans) failed to progress to the second round of the Presidential election, with the Socialists suffering an especially sharp decline. This is not unique: from Greece to the Netherlands or Spain, representatives of social democracy have been continuously defeated. The failure of such parties in responding to economic crises, whilst overlooking social rights and accepting the tyranny of austerity, has consequently boosted support for the far right.
Even if Le Pen ends up defeated in the second round, as predicted in the polls, her presence in the final presidential vote is a very disturbing sign. The fact that a party with an anti-democratic message, which goes against the European values of solidarity has achieved 21% of the support, is in itself alarming.
Undoubtedly, the elections to be held on May 7th, will be crucial in mapping Europe’s future. But this lack of direction in France is today a mirror of the European continent, in which confronting neoliberal austerity and far-right proposals are at loggerheads, both harmful to a project of solidarity and cooperation. Although the most alarming scenario would be a Le Pen victory, a Macron triumph will only prolong the failed policies that brought us here.