The prestigious Parisian restaurant of Fouquet’s is a renowned establishment located in the heart of Paris along the city’s most famous avenue, the Champs-Elysees. A tourist attraction in its own right, it played host to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s infamous celebration of his victory in the 2007 French presidential election. Located only a few-hundred metres from the Arc de Triomphe, no other restaurant would’ve suited the occasion better. Yet ironically, this event went down as the first PR blunder of the newly elected President, and his exclusive celebration with business elites and celebrities saw the commencement of a shifting of public sentiment against him.
Ten years later, French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron mirrored Sarkozy’s post-election partying by holding his celebration in the renowned bistro ‘Montparnasse’. The only difference was, Sarkozy won the entire election, and Macron has only just won the first round. Such lavish celebration by Macron, despite not winning the entire election of which the final round was two weeks away, reflects the pretentious, and ultimately self-destructive attitude all establishment politicians display. It is this attitude that ultimately sees their downfall.
Soon after news escaped that Macron was celebrating his first-round victory with celebrities, Marine Le Pen surged in the polls, a phenomenon that clearly showed the French voters’ disappointment with Macron’s smug celebrations. A headline by the Express powerfully captured this situation: ‘Marine Le Pen SURGES in latest poll as Macron is blasted for first round celebrations’. The poll revealed that 50% of voters believed Marine’s campaign started well, with only 43% saying so for Macron, and the crux of the poll was revealed in 61% of voters agreeing that the former’s second-round campaign was successful, compared to just 48% for Macron.
This is just one example that renders Macron to be the Hillary Clinton of France, or maybe even Europe. The actions of both candidates emphasised the growing contemporary trend of establishment politicians hurting their ability to reach out to the common people. A display of elitism through lavish celebrations or alliances with celebrities has, unsurprisingly to the right-wing voter, only been a burden to its associated politician. Macron’s and Sarkozy’s private parties with celebrities, along with Hillary’s use of celebrities to shill for her during the campaign, only contributed to their estrangement with the everyday voter. The fact that voters need solutions, and not the validation of celebrities, should be basic knowledge for establishment politicians. But as it turns out, it’s not.
Hillary Clinton herself radiated an overly-confident and elitist persona by calling Trump supporters “deplorable” and spending more time with feminist celebrities than with ordinary people. Donald Trump, on the other hand, openly expressed himself by violating political correctness on Twitter and reaching out to the common folk enduring hard times in a country whose industries are threatened and vulnerable thanks to globalism. This only ended up hurting Hillary Clinton, and was exacerbated by “Russian Wikileaks” exposing her hidden side which she only revealed to a select group of Wall Street banks. Trump’s ability to win traditionally Democratic industrial states like Michigan and Pennsylvania was a result of this phenomena. Speaking of emails, Macron himself has been embroiled in an email conspiracy that has led to allegations including drug abuse and a homosexual past.
The phenomena in France poses striking similarities to that of America during its election period. Marine’s strongholds are in France’s rust-belt located in the country’s North. While Macron was partying in Paris to celebrate his result, Marine chose to enjoy her result with the people of Henin-Beaumont. This not only shows an ability to appeal to the common people, but an affinity with the people and ideals she represents, a trait she shares with Trump. France’s Hillary Clinton however, chose to be with celebrities and the elite, just like his namesake.
In addition, during the first round, Marine Le Pen won huge swathes in the Southern and Eastern regions of France which were more vulnerable to refugee problems. Just as Trump was able to secure neglected rust-belt states through his promises for American manufacturing and industry, Marine was able to win in French regions more affected by migration. The manifestation may be different, but the principle is the same: populist right-wing politicians are able to better understand and respond to the problems faced by particular people of a particular region.
Macron, however, with his band of progressive millennials intent on seeing their country’s sovereignty continue to be ravaged by Eurocrats in Brussels or Berlin, is not doing well on the populist front. This relates to his condemnation of the new rise of populism, just as Hillary Clinton did, the consequences of which both politicians did not seem to understand. Despite branding himself a centrist, Macron fails at reaching out to people across the board, something his opponent excels at. Marine’s politically astute decision to step down as the National Front’s leader showed her effectiveness to reach out to all French voters despite her opponent’s failed attempts at doing so by calling himself a centrist. This only strengthened her position and role as a President for all French people, not just those left of centre.
Correlation may not necessarily mean causation, but it should not be ignored that Hillary’s behaviour was very similar to that of Macron. It is still unclear whether France will have a first female President, but it is clear that if she doesn’t, she will have a President whose skills lie at emulating a woman. Macron shares many similarities with Hillary, with the only key difference being what’s between their legs, which the latter used to try and win the election. It may seem too far-fetched to call Macron France’s Hillary Clinton, but then again a woman’s role has always suited him best.