Constructing the Modern Prince

Conversely, a few months ago Macron’s qualification [for the second round] would have been hard to predict. A series of “accidents” explain how it happened: the fact that François Hollande did not stand for a second term, the scandals that hit François Fillon, Benoît Hamon’s victory over Manuel Valls in the Socialist primary, and the elimination of Alain Juppé in the primaries for the Right. All these events opened up a political space in the centre. So without these “accidents,” Macron would very probably not have reached the second round.

.. So we have to resist the temptation to think that in the first round a “revolution” took place in French politics. For over a decade the French political field has been developing toward a gradual tripartite division: a left-wing pole, a right-wing pole — each with its own internal contradictions and undercurrents — and a third pole constituted by the Front National.

.. In the Fifth Republic, reaching the presidency is of decisive importance. But without a majority in the National Assembly, it is impossible to govern. Macron only collected the support of 18% of registered voters (24% of those who voted), which is not a lot. So it is far from obvious that even if he does win the second round, he will be able to transform his victory into a parliamentary majority.

.. only able to govern by relying on MPs from the Socialist Party, the centre, and even certain sections of the Right that agree to collaborate with him.

.. I think it improbable that En Marche! will transform into a party that restructures the French political terrain. The distinction between Left and Right has deep roots in modern capitalist societies. The social roots of this distinction are connected to class conflicts over the distribution of material resources, and not simply questions of “discourse” or “values” that can become outdated.

.. The opposition between “nationals” and “neoliberals” exists within each camp. It does not replace the opposition between Left and Right, but complicates it.