French President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election by a comfortable margin against an opponent with whom he shares a mutual dislike almost obscured a certain co-dependence between their political camps. Macron and his opponent, the far-right Marine Le Pen, may loathe each other, but they have developed a type of political symbiosis that provides crucial insights into the current predicament in France, Europe, and beyond.
The specter of a Le Pen victory has sustained a tradition of helping incumbents return to the Elysée. Before Macron, 20 years ago, Jacques Chirac united 82% of the electorate against Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
But this time was different. In 2002, fear of Jean-Marie Le Pen forged Chirac’s triumph. In 2022, it was more of a two-way street: while Le Pen certainly helped Macron assemble a clear majority of voters, Macron also bolstered Le Pen. The result speaks for itself: an ultra-rightist won 42% of the vote. Over the past five years, the Macron-Le Pen co-dependence grew, and not in spite of the two opponents’ mutual antipathy but at least partly because of it.
Chirac’s 2002 re-election was built on a coalition of the right, the center, and the left against the xenophobic ultra-right. Five years ago, faced once more with the same far-
— source project-syndicate.org | Yanis Varoufakis | Apr 25, 2022