The dapper Frenchman running for president as the best bet against the far right

Macron is fundamentally pro-Europe at a time when his mainstream opponents have been critical of Brussels, and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, has argued for taking France off the euro altogether. He also champions any number of socially liberal positions, especially the freedom to practice religion in an officially secular state increasingly suspicious of Islam.

.. In Algeria this week, he referred to French colonization as a “crime against humanity,” infuriating right-leaning voters. But precisely the same thing happened last year among leftists — whose support he also needs — when he attacked the 35-hour workweek, a hallmark of French life.

“A long time ago, the left believed . . . that France would be better off if people worked less,” said Macron, who still describes himself as a man “of the left.” “That was a wrong idea.”

“There is indeed an electorate that doesn’t recognize itself in the classic left-right divide,” said Gérard Grunberg, a political scientist at Sciences Po in Paris. “But the problem with Macron’s electorate is that it consists of people too far to the left coupled with people too far to the right.”

 With the possible exception of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1974, a centrist politician has never won the French presidency.
.. The problem? If Macron does win, it remains unclear how he would then proceed, given that he has no party support behind him and his blend of ideologies will probably be difficult to sell in the French Parliament.As Martin put it: “With whom will he govern?”

Give Us a King!

Executive-branch Caesarism has been raised to new heights by the last two presidents, and important parts of the country have responded by upping the ante, and — like ancient Israelites in the Book of Samuel — basically clamoring for a king.

That clamor is loudest from the Trumpistas and their dear leader. Donald Trump is clearly running to be an American caudillo, not the president of a constitutional republic, and his entire campaign is a cult of personality in the style of (the pro-Trump) Vladimir Putin.

.. But the dream lives on, most recently in the former Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei’s Wall Street Journal op-ed urging the formation of an “Innovation Party,” to be led by our Facebook-Google overlords and our best military minds.

.. Meanwhile, his enthusiasm for military expertise is shared by a portion (the richer portion, in particular) of the #neverTrump movement, which in casting about for a political savior fastened on the retired Marine Corps general James Mattis. Sure, Mattis has neither political experience nor stated positions on any issues, but if you’re going to have a caudillo, why not one with an actual uniform?

.. But the cult of the presidency is clearly strongest in the American center.

.. The Bloombergist upper-class moderates fear the Trumpist working-class moderates, and Trump’s middle-American populists loathe the globalist elite right back.