Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Marine Le Pen faces one of the paradoxes of democracy. Many in France feel that the EU constrains French economic policy in unacceptable ways, but they don't want to leave it. (Technically speaking, there are Condorcet cycles in French preferences.) Le Pen has made attacking the EU-imposed constraints a centerpiece of her campaign, but as voters contemplate the possibility of an FN victory, they have become increasingly nervous that she might actually make good on her promise. So she has been playing up her deference to "the will of the people" by promising a post-election referendum on the euro and the EU, trying to have her cake and eat it too. But this compromises her image as a no-nonsense authoritarian. Not quite as shameless as Donald Trump on Obamacare, she can't make people believe that she will both smash the EU and retain its benefits. But as with Trump, the contradictions in her underlying position are increasingly undermining her appeal. Unfortunately, Americans were slow to cotton on to Trump's flagrant flaws. Le Pen's recent back-tracking shows that she is afraid the French are already onto her.