We have this popular myth back in my country that says: ‘A lightning never hits the same place twice’. Now, with the few I was able to absorb from my interpretation classes, this popular expression clearly refers to the fact that really improbable things, such as being struck by a lightning – during normal conditions your chances are 1 to 1 million – won’t happen twice. Funny enough – or not – this year this expression might be put into test: yet again, another presidential candidate, with nationalist and protectionist ideas, which was regarded out of the presidential run, reaches the second round of the dispute.
Marine Le Pen is the leader of the Front Nationale or National Front. Marine is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, and a far right politician. He once said in one of his rallies that gas chambers used in the Second World War by Nazis was merely a “detail in history”. Even though Jean-Marie Le Pen reached the second round of the French elections in 2002, but ended up losing for the Republicans, the French popular opinion about him isn’t good: FN was seen as a fascist party because of Jean-Marie’s presence on the leadership, and after the loss in the elections, the party decreased their seats in the lower and higher chamber of the French Parliament houses, until 2011, when Marine’s father decided to retire from the leadership of the party. At that moment, backed by her father, Marine won the elections for leadership of the party, and started a complete reconstruction of the party. Marine decided to push away the image of xenophobes and fascists that the party had acquired under her father’s leadership, to a more subtle, centre right approach. In the latest slogans published by her campaign, Le Pen even took her last name out of the slogans, leaving only “Marine 2017” written on her new advertising campaign. She clearly wants to separate herself from the image of her father, as well as show France that FN is now a new type of conservatism, less radical nationalism, and more sophisticated. But much like our orange friend seating in the oval office of the White House watching Fox News right now, Marine has a dubious speech. While she does take stronger stands then Trump in some subjects, she often seems to be softening it up to attract more voters. Marine calls for the comeback of the golden age of France. Where the motto Liberty, Equality and Fraternity was written outside Parisian houses; where all French were employed and could sustain their family with their income. Many voters are being alluded with these promises, without realizing the consequences of it, because Marine’s campaign also preaches for anti-globalism, zero immigration, no tolerance with religious diversity and protectionists economic measures. The only good thing about Marine’s campaign so far is that by the time this article was being written, the latest polls published by Bloomberg showed her behind the other candidate, Emmanuel Macron, by 19,5% points. Macron is another surprise in this French presidential election. He is the frontman of a new independent party called En Marche!, never held a public office before, besides being appointed in 2014 as Minister of Economy and Finance, and he married his French teacher who is 20 years older than him. Jokes aside, but never the truth, Macron seems like a moderate, progressive option to the old socialist and republican parties that have been switching power in France over the last years. At first glance, Macron seems like the Justin Trudeau who never crossed the Atlantic, and his policy’s resemblance is remarkable: he both advocates for diversity, liberal economic measures with social entanglements and pro-globalization measures. It would seem like the French elections are a “what if” version of the American elections: what if instead of Hillary Clinton, who even constantly trying to seem progressive couldn’t disconnect herself from the image of conservative politics, another more progressive and forward thinking candidate would go to the second round, such as Bernie Sanders? Would all the voters who voted for Trump in the United States, because they were tired of old politics, have voted for Sanders instead, if they would have had the opportunity? Even though polls have been showing Macron leading, more than a ⅓ of the French population is estimated not to go voting next Sunday 7th of May. This could mean a totally different result, as explained by Michael Van Rhee in this article about the predictive power of pools in the American Elections. And the biggest problem about common sense, and public opinion, is that sometimes it is based on polls such as these, or just misinformation, which in the end leads to misunderstandings, which by consequence are propagated to everyone, without one single check. Remember the public saying that a lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice? Well, actually this myth was debunked recently. Even though the probability of it happening is low, a lightning can strike the same place even more than twice. And on this Sunday we will confirm if it does.