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Marine Le Pen: Sure Loser? Or A Mortal Threat To France?

France will soon decide whether to elect Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, or Marine Le Pen, the far right leader of the National Front, as president. Win or lose, Le Pen has had an impact on France – though just how much remains a matter of debate.

Lauren Collins, The New Yorker: “The Future Of Europe Hinges On A Face-Off In France”

“She asked if I knew that he was ‘a Rothschild banker’ (Macron worked for the firm from 2008 to 2012, earning around a million dollars a year), invoking a slur — I heard it repeated over and over, and not just by F.N. supporters — that seemed laser-targeted toward some primal place in the French imagination, where a fondness for conspiracy theory intersected with a suspicion of high finance. ‘Rothschild banker’ suggested, without having to say it, that Jewish influence was at work, making it all the more irresistible for the Front National.”

In a deep dive for The New Yorker, Lauren Collins reports from France about the on-the-ground dynamics between the Macron and Le Pen campaigns. She tours multiple regions of France to gain a sense of why certain areas and voters are supporting and opposing the two candidates.

Andrew Cohen, Ottawa Citizen: “Le Pen And French Jews”

“Detoxifying” the National Front is like separating baguette from brie in France. [Le Pen] can’t because this is how she and others think in a country with a history of anti-Semitism.”

Cohen, a journalist and professor, dismisses Le Pen’s recent overtures to the Jewish community as disingenuous and an effort to obfuscate her anti-Semitic leanings. If she’s so concerned about the past and present of Jews, why plan to nominate as your deputy a man who denied the Nazis’ use of Zyklon B poison gas? Why seek to ban yarmulkes?

Ross Douthat, New York Times: “The European Crisis”

“From my perspective — as, yes, a religious conservative, and therefore someone already far outside the official European mainstream — the evils of right-populism are not some wild outlier in an otherwise harmonious and liberal Europe. They are instead dangers to be weighed against the myriad evils of the status quo.”

Following up on a previous column, in which he controversially suggested a vote for Le Pen may be more palatable than a vote for Trump was, the conservative Times’ columnist explains his reasoning for why the populist surge in France and in Europe is understandable.

Pieter Cleppe, CNN.com: “Win Or Lose, Marine Le Pen Is A Nightmare For The EU”

“Everything really would be on the table if Le Pen is elected, given the political damage it would do to the EU and the eurozone: projects that are completely reliant on political goodwill.”

Most mainstream writers deem a potential Le Pen presidency a disaster and a threat to the Western liberal order, but the majority still believe it won’t actually happen. Cleppe, the head of the think tank Open Europe, considers what scenarios may actually unfold politically and policy-wise if Le Pen does pull off the upset — and what are the ramifications even if she loses.

Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun: “In France, Macron Is The Radical, Not Le Pen”

“Le Pen has echoed what we on the left who have escaped Islamist tyranny say in battling jihadis.”

Fatah, a secular Muslim activist and writer (and a long-time Marxist), praises Le Pen. He prefers to frame the campaign as a battle between a bourgeois former investment banker (Macron) and a voice for the working class (Le Pen).

Steven Davidson is an editorial fellow at The Forward

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