Anne Applebaum writes: Before you do anything else, spend a moment thinking about the extraordinary achievement of modern France’s youngest president-elect, Emmanuel Macron. Not since Napoleon has anybody leapt to the top of French public life with such speed. Not since World War II has anybody won the French presidency without a political party and a parliamentary base. Aside from some belated endorsements, he had little real support from the French establishment, few of whose members rated the chances of a man from an unfashionable town when he launched his candidacy last year.
He was, it is true, extraordinarily lucky (luck being the quality that Napoleon said he most preferred in his generals). He benefited both from the flameout of Socialist President François Hollande, who decided not even to contest the election, and from a surprise series of personal scandals that dragged down the center-right’s candidate, François Fillon. But Macron was also extraordinarily prescient. He saw that there was an opening in France for a socially liberal, economically liberal, internationalist and optimistic voice. Fillon, like Prime Minister Theresa May in Britain, wanted to repackage nationalist policies into more acceptable language. Macron instead argued openly against the fear, nostalgia, nativism, statism and stagnation on offer from the rest of the political class.
He made no populist promises, he offered no impossible schemes or unattainable riches. And then he won. [Continue reading…]