Christopher Dickey writes: Barring an act of God or ISIS, or a massive vote for the mysterious Monsieur Blanc, 39-year-old centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron now looks certain to be the next president of France. He emerged from the one and only one-on-one debate against far-right nationalist-socialistic candidate Marine Le Pen on Wednesday night largely unscathed and indeed, according to instant polls, a clear winner.
If he is elected Sunday, the effect on European and global politics could be enormous: a definitive end to what had seemed a wave of nativism and populism sweeping across the West; a huge setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s designs to divide and weaken European (and American) democracies; and a much tougher, more united European Union position as London tries to negotiate Brexit.
Macron, a wunderkind banker and political neophyte who briefly served as economy minister in the current discredited government of President François Hollande, did not, as some of his supporters feared, fall on his face in the debate, even though Le Pen called him “the prostrate candidate” who grovels before international financial interests.
The heiress to the legacy of the National Front party founded by her irascible race-baiting father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, is anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, anti-euro, anti-European Union, anti-American, pro-Trump, and pro-Putin and would like to close France’s borders. A victory for her would turn the post-World War II order upside down—a proposition many frustrated and angry French, especially young ones, have flirted with on the left as well as the right. [Continue reading…]