Thursday, 4 May 2017

3 takeaways from the French presidential debate

1. Marine Le Pen fully adopted Trump-style of debating

The far-right leader continuously interrupted, mocked and insulted her opponent. In that sense, Le Pen adopted a Donald Trump's bully style that tried to discredit the rival, not with ideas and arguments, but merely disrespecting. The Front National's candidate also wanted to draw a clear (and real) line between Emmanuel Macron and the current socialist government. Macron, however, did not stay shy and was not intimidated by his rival's attitude. Yesterday night we saw a socio-liberal candidate that responded to Le Pen's attacks and even stroke back. Actually, it was Macron who told her some of the strongest accusations: "you are indecent", "French people deserve more (than you)" and "you will bring the country to a civil war". In the end, Le Pen's attacks and Macron's responses might have strengthened Macron's image as a statesman.

Though the sour tone of the debate, there were moments of strange smiling and looks between them.

2. Le Pen's racism is back in town

Since Marine's took over Front National, she has always worked on the decriminalisation of her party. The FN's results in the last round of elections clearly point at her succeeding at it. However, Marine's proposals to fight terrorism and criminality showed that the racist ideas are still there. Le Pen proposed closing borders, immediately extraditing foreign criminals and those with French and another nationality. She also intends to close many mosques, organisations and parties suspicious of feeding radical Islamism. All these ideas are not new, actually, they are the same old ideas that have always characterised the far-right party. That is precisely the news. For those on the left that were flirting with the idea of supporting an anti-establishment candidate such like her, suddenly remembered that racism is still there.

3. Macron did not need to explain its plan for Europe

Emmanuel Macron's plan for Europe was barely unveiled because what centred the debate was Le Pen's plan of abandoning the European Union and the Euro. Given that the far-right leader mishandled her plan for recovering French sovereignty, Macron only had to point at the evident weaknesses of the plan. Marine tried to explain that the Euro was the banker's currency and she intended to reinstate the people's currency (i.e., the Franc), but using both currencies at the same time. Moreover, she was not even clear about how these double currency system was going to work. Macron, who is an expert in economy, profited it by pointing at the evident weaknesses of Le Pen's plan and avoiding to explain its plan for Europe. What a pity! It did not let us know what are the ideas of the likely Elisée's tenant.

4 (extra track). Both completely ignored the journalists

I have rarely felt more pity for moderators than I did yesterday. The candidates very often talk at the same time and did not even listen to the moderators that tried to order the debate. Poor them. The TV spectacle was great, even though it was not centred on ideas and arguments. Trump style.

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