With the first round of the French election out of the way, the May 7 run-off has come to look very much like a mirror image of the 2016 U.S. general election. The race’s version of Hillary Clinton is Emmanuel Macron; viewed by many as a centrist (he refers to himself that way, as well), Macron actually enjoys the support of a number of leftist notables in France, and is an ardent pro-European and, relatedly, a staunch globalist.
His opponent, Marine Le Pen, is just as firmly entrenched on the other side of the political dividing line. Le Pen’s candidacy is essentially a “France first” effort (although she does not refer to it that way), in the way that President Trump’s run for the White House was almost entirely oriented on what he loudly and repeatedly proclaimed to be an “America first” agenda. Like Trump, Le Pen is interested entirely in the national interests of France and her citizens, and seems devoted to assuming that posture at the direct expense of the Eurozone, Muslims, and refugees.
Anyway, Macron was in his hometown of Amiens recently to meet with union leaders associated with a Whirlpool plant there. The plant is going to be relocating to Poland, and the workers are on strike over the impending move. As reported by Sky News, Le Pen showed up during the confab, clearly in an effort to upstage her rival, taking pictures with the rank-and-file and reiterating to all there her position as the pro-France, anti-globalist candidate. Le Pen said that if she wins the May 7 election, she’ll be sure to keep the Whirlpool plant right where it is, and said, “Everyone knows what side Emmanuel Macron is on - he is on the side of the corporations.”
“I am on the workers' side, here in the car park, not in the restaurants of Amiens.”
Macron did make an appearance at the picket line after his meeting, but was roundly booed and jeered, with many repeatedly shouting “President Marine!” at the clearly-beleaguered candidate.
Le Pen called the Whirlpool plant a “symbol of odious globalization, which leads to plants moving abroad, destroying thousands of jobs.” For his part, Macron doubled-down on his own rhetoric, saying, in part, that an effort to reconstitute and fortify French borders would prove an effort that poorly serves the country.
Macron’s hometown has hardly been kind to him during this election cycle. Not only was he forced to endure an acutely chilly reception during his recent visit, but Le Pen actually received a greater number of votes from the Amiens residents than did Macron in the first-round balloting.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large