Op-eds and Articles

Yarrow for Washington Monthly: Why French Presidential Candidate Emmanuel Macron Could Save Western Democracy

By / 3.3.2017

He’s the last best hope to stop the ethno-nationalist Marine Le Pen from capturing the presidency.

Why are this spring’s French presidential elections so important to the United States and the world?

Typically, few Americans pay attention to elections beyond our borders, although Britain’s “Brexit” vote last summer was potentially a harbinger of Donald Trump’s election in November. Likewise, for most Americans who think about France, it is as a romantic tourist destination, an occasionally annoying ally, and a country whose language we studied in high school. And, for those very few who think more about French politics and policy, the picture is of a succession of lackluster, often corrupt leaders since before World War II, rigid regulatory policies that have hurt the French economy for more than 30 years, and some social policies—like the French health-care and child-care systems—that could be a model for the United States.

This year is very different. For Americans, and Brits and others—deeply disturbed by rising xenophobia and racism, the go-it-alone nationalism that sees other countries as enemies and free trade as harmful, and the rise of “alternative facts” and disdain for a free press—the French election could be a dramatic turning-point. For those who support President Trump and Brexit leader Nigel Farage, a victory by Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front leader in France, would be the third, and decisive, domino to fall in the overturning of the post-World War II order of liberal democracy.

Read more at Washington Monthly.