This year's French presidential elections is mimicking the recent American presidential election mashup: nothing is happening as in previous elections. The two major parties are in disarray, fighting to stop the hemorrhaging of their support.
The major rightwing party Les Republicains, has Francois Fillon as their candidate, now totally discredited. Fillon is under investigation for fictitiously employing his wife over the years to the tune of nearly a million dollars and employing two of his children, His wife also received unemployment compensation when 'terminated', another ethical violation. Fillon's party pressured him to resign his candidacy which he resolutely refuses to do. Supporters have dwindled, although Fillon still has the backing of 'les bons Catholiques d'autrefois'. Mostly people are scathing of his lack of honesty and his insistence on staying in the race being this compromised.
When the hapless Socialist President, Francois Hollande, removed himself from running for a second term for the greater good of the party, he didn't factor in that his Prime Minister, Emmanual Valls was going to be kicked to the curb The party base recognized Hollande and Valls had spent the last few years stealthily doing what neoliberal Democrats have done - continuing on the road to privatization and defunding social programs as much as they could without triggering massive blow-back....in France more often than not, this manifests itself in strikes.
Primaries are a recent development in France and when the Socialist vote was in, Valls was out and in came Benoit Hamon. Hamon doesn't have much name recognition or charisma and with a unique proposition of a base salary for everyone this just was one stretch too far to carry the Socialists to the top of the polls.
Someone with solid name recognition and beaucoup charisma is Marine Le Pen. Unfortunately, she represents the far-right Front National which in years past, one would only whisper their support. Started by Marine's father, Jean-Marie - someone who delighted in attending SS reunions in Germany, this party originally was anti-everything: anti-Semitic, Muslim, Black. Since Marine has taken helm, she's done her best to mainstream it, but the leeching of the old vile ideology is still present. The Front National when taking positions in municipalities is known to purge libraries and hand goodies to their cronies.
Marine Le Pen is currently under investigation in the European Union for this type of abuse, but this hasn't touched her ratings in the polls, since she is currently neck and neck with Macron. This party is the only major party *on the surface* seriously addressing mass immigration and insecurity - tandem issues which are a real concern for many French. The other parties are loathed to wade in due to the sensitive nature of singling out ethnic communities. Some good people vote for Front National - unfortunately so do all the racists.
The other person disputing the top spot is Emmanuel Macron - literally the new kid on the block since Macron is just shy of 40 and has only held government office for two years. As Socialist Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, Macron is considered Hollande's wonderboy. Rather odd, since Macron has nothing in his profile to point to any genuine left leaning sensibilities. As a former Rothschild banker, one can only surmise Macron was placed inside the Socialists as malware.
It certainly malfunctioned to perfection. With the 2017 presidential election in view, Macron managed to, within months, jump the Socialist ship and create a new centrist party, 'En Marche!' which subsequently zoomed to the top of the polls - a feat, quoi. This left the other centrist party in the dust despite years of effort - a relic of the French political scene.
France is a nation who prides herself in her philosophical prowess - the famous 'l'esprit critique,'. All the more ironic that when one is trained to see things in multifaceted ways, the French reserve only one notion for those espousing centrist politics, that is someone unable to adhere to left or rightwing ideologies. The perceived wisdom is that centrist policies display an ideological void.
Macron has been receiving flack for his mongrel mix of political ideas from the other candidates as well as TV political pundits. Also problematic for Macron is having to justify how his banking past is conducive to understanding the plight of the average joe.
The speed and dynamism of Macon's rise might seem puzzling but ultimately understandable: as with Hillary, Macron IS The Establishment's candidate.
Predictably heavy TV coverage of Macron followed his anointment. Just like in America, French political talk shows primarily focus on the candidates' strategy, not policies - can't allow the public to start asking questions.
And just like product placement, news agencies began featuring stories on Macron, such as this Reuters' headline from early in the game - February 6:
The incessant Macron drumbeat is starting to ring false and many now question his meteoric rise and his current shared first position in the polls.