This Sunday, the fifth French Republic will face a radical choice. Although the best candidate in the race will not win, France will get the hero it wants, not the one it truly needs. Emmanuel Macron, four days out of the final election, holds a lead of almost twenty points over the anti-immigrant, anti-globalist Marine Le Pen. I did not support Macron in the first round. I thought he was a candidate of half measures not willing to take the steps needed. I was also worried about him being a minister of the socialist government, and if he was sincere about his promises. But today, France is facing two choices in a decisive moment. The country has held an unemployment rate consistently over nine percent for almost a decade, while their youth unemployment rate has been rising since the 1980s, being over twenty percent since the 90s. At the same time, government spending has been on an upward trajectory from forty-five percent in 1978, to over fifty-six percent today. The fifth republic faces a stark choice between a doubling down on statist economics, or a halt and mild reversal. The choice is clear. The choice is Emmanuel Macron, and only with him can France move forward.
The economic case for Macron is simple. He is running on a reform platform to cut taxes, cut spending, reining in the deficit, cut the government workforce and loosen labor laws. Even a mild attempt at these could give the French economy a much-needed boost. On the other hand, we have Marine Le Pen and her deeply anti-growth policies. Growth is driven by productivity, which either comes from labor or capital investment. On the former, Le Pen suffers from a serious case of xenophobia. She is anti-immigrant across the board, not just for protecting French culture or safety. On the second front (for those that know her party, that pun was intended), she will not do better. For starters, her staunch protectionist will lead to a trade surplus which will mean France will be sending investment out of France to other countries. From keeping the thirty-five hour work week to lowering the retirement rate to being pro-government spending, Le Pen holds anti-growth policies across the board.
I support Macron for a second reason, the security policies of France and the implications they have on America. While both want to increase defense spending, which I support, one candidate wants to improve American-French relations while the other wants to leave NATO and pivot to Russia. A pivot to Russia would be a brutal blow to America and the free world as a whole. By putting a leading economy, albeit one that will be on an accelerated decline, in the corner of Russia, will not only put a gaping hole in the American lead alliance but split the relationship between close allies for possibly decades.
None of this is to say Emmanuel Macron is the perfect candidate for France, far from it. France needs someone who can change the underlying political culture. Macron is not that man, but he can slow, stop, and even put a slight reverse on a Frances trajectory to stagnation. Marine Le Pen is a candidate for those who want to double down on failure. Yes, she will stop French immigration, but that will have as much to do with turning French into a poor country as it will with explicit immigration policy. To move forward, France only has one option. That option is Emmanuel Macron, and that is why I support him.