President Macron: a Pyrrhic victory for the EU elite

President Macron: a Pyrrhic victory for the EU elite, by Brendan O’Neill.

If you want to know how isolated, even desperate, the Western political class has become, look no further than its cheering of President Macron. They’re hailing Macron’s march to the Élysée Palace as a massive win for rational politics; a brake on the disorientation caused by recent populist upsurges; a ‘victory for France, the EU, and the world’, in the words of Hillary Clinton. Macron is a ‘remedy’ to the ‘populist fever’ that has swept Europe and the US, and he could return the West to ‘normalcy’, reports say.

This is delusional. The opposite is the case. Macron’s victory confirms even better than Le Pen’s would have that the old politics is done and dusted, and nothing now is normal.

Reading the relieved media coverage, and the gushing praise of Western leaders, you’d be forgiven for thinking Macron had just returned politics to where it was before Brexit, Trump and other cocky rejections of the technocratic establishment. …

Macron’s party that isn’t a party, En Marche!, meaning ‘Forward!’, was founded on 6 April 2016. Now it has the presidency of one of the most powerful nations on Earth. That this collection of buzzwords masquerading as a movement could make such a speedy rise confirms that the demise of establishment politics is if anything even more profound in France than it is in Britain and the US, the supposedly populist nations whose alleged stupidity Macron might now correct.

This presidential election was the first time in the life of the Fifth Republic, which has existed since 1958, that neither the main right-wing nor left-wing party got to the second round. It’s not that ‘the centre’ has struck back –- it’s that the political poles of left and right, born in France, and around which politics was organised for 200 years, are no more. Those on the right and left who are cheering Macron are by extension cheering the collapse of the political system from which they derive their ideas and legitimacy. It is bizarre. …

The one benefit is that they can now depict the pro-EU side as outsiders, almost as anti-establishment figures, youthful politicos against older, negative nativists and others. But this, too, is a pose, for in truth Macron is more like the temporary poster boy of a decaying technocratic elite whose confidence over the past 24 hours should fool no one. Far from being the anti-Brexit, events in France confirm, in a different way, what Brexit also pointed to: the old politics is on life-support.