Presidential debate: one winner and two losers
It was an unprecedented debate in an unprecedented campaign. Since the first and famous debate that opposed Giscard to Mitterrand in 1974, never were displayed so many personal attacks, invectives and even insults. Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron did not even bother to begin with the usual common courtesy. From the very first words, the confrontation was a violent verbal combat. And after more than two hours and a half of fighting, the conclusion was obvious: there were one winner and two losers.
The winner was Emmanuel Macron without doubt. Faced with a continuous stream of insinuations and lies, he managed to remain calm and keep a presidential attitude, and explain his project in a rather pedagogic way. Being the favorite candidate in opinions polls and a newcomer to politics, he had the most to lose. Even if his attitude was sometimes patronizing and even if he was probably wrong to follow Marine Le Pen on the battle field where she meant to drag him, the En Marche !’s candidate stood strong. With self-control, he managed to achieve what he was aiming for: to bring Marine Le Pen to demonstrate the emptiness and inanity of her program. Especially regarding her economic views on euro, industry or fiscal and social policies.
So Marine Le Pen’s gamble failed. She tried to destabilize her opponent and make him lose his temper, as a demonstration of his alleged lack of strength. But she actually caught herself in her own trap. Completely lost in all her colored datasheets, she showed how weak and unprepared she was when trying to go into details. She mixed up Alstom with SFR. She stumbled on the ECU supposed to replace the euro. Worse still, she failed to maintain the image of a responsible and reasonable woman that she had been working to build during the last 15 years in her attempts to “de-demonize” the Front National. During the debate, she looked very much like her father, chuckling and constantly interrupting her opponent with insinuations and calling down anathema. To that regard, the last part of the show was catastrophic for her: she looked like her father Jean-Marie more and more by the minute. Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, her niece, can rest easy: Marine will not be the one to bring their family company, the Front National, to the Elysee Palace.
But this uninterrupted brawl made a second loser: democracy. Citizens were deprived of a real debate able to confront the presidential platforms on real issues. In a world with more and more tensions and conflicts, only eight minutes were devoted to international politics outside Europe. Not a word was said about energy transition or climate. The word “environment” was not even pronounced!
Our only hope is that this violent confrontation will divert some of the voters tempted by abstention and bring them to vote on Sunday. At least this disappointing debate would have one positive outcome for our country’s democracy.