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The Dread Recedes


 The dread that those of us of the liberal persuasion experienced about European elections a month or two ago seems to be receding.

The French election run-off between Macron and Le Pen seems likely, if not certainly, to go Macron’s way – or so my French sources tell me.  Their premise is that Le Pen, despite her strong first-round showing, is unlikely to attract as many votes as Macron from the losing mainstream parties, which ought to put the political newcomer into the Elysee Palace quite comfortably. 

The caveat, though, is that stranger things have happened in politics of late, and not just in France.

The election in the Netherlands last month likewise put paid to Wilders and his loony right-wing agenda, if not by a huge margin, then sufficient to keep him quiet for a while, perhaps even for all time.  And all of this augurs well for the German federal elections later this year. 

In Britain, where the fourth national election campaign in as many years is now underway, the ruling Conservative Party seems to have such a commanding lead that the Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn poses little threat.  Chickens should not be counted this early, of course, but it’s hard to see any result except a minor Tory landslide. 

There is also good news from the frozen north of these islands, where the Scottish National Party appears to be losing some of its lustre.  Until recently, the SNP seemed unassailable and a second independence referendum inevitable.  Not now, and polls are finding a fading appetite for one.  Still, here as elsewhere, chicken-counting should be avoided.

All of which leaves Trump as the sole representative of the populist ‘movement’, the so-called alt-right, in power.  And even he may be losing the plot, if one accepts that there was ever an identifiable plot to lose.  His first, much vaunted, one hundred days are nearly up and so far he has nothing to show except a few executive orders – and mercifully they seem to have dried up, and the usual bluster and blarney.  There may be a new health bill in the works, and a tax reform bill to follow, but even the most ardent Trump supporters will not be holding their collective breath. 

Trump’s approval ratings have been slipping for a while.  He badly needs a political win to restore, make that prove, his credibility.  It is possible, even for leftists like me, to hope that he gets some kind of domestic triumph soon, if only to undermine his enthusiasm for high-risk US foreign policy initiatives, like threatening North Korea with pre-emptive military strikes, and expanding bombing attacks in Syria, or invading Ukraine, or annexing Mexico.  

So, we all breathe a little easier, this Monday morning.

Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Macron. 

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