Had I published this post when I originally intended, on Saturday, it would contain my enthusiastic endorsement of Emmanuel Macron for the French Presidency.
But then the Socialists had the first round of their Primary, and Benoit Hamon came out on top, beating out both Arnaud Montebourg (my original endorsement) and Manuel Valls, the latter of which will face Hamon in the run-off, which is being held as I am writing this. Arnaud Montebourg, who, even as I prepared to throw my endorsement behind Macron (even though my endorsement would make no difference, I’m just an English schoolboy), I still hoped could make some sort of comeback, directed his supporters to vote for Hamon in the second round.
Some of you reading this may be asking why this makes a difference, and why I don’t just endorse Macron anyway.
The problem is that I like both Benoit Hamon and Emmanuel Macron.
Benoit Hamon is, in essence, the French Bernie Sanders, even if Hamon is more left wing than Bernie. That said, he is far more comparable to Bernie than Jeremy Corbyn is. He has a positive energy that, for all his credit, Corbyn lacks. He is, like Bernie, charismatic and inspiring. But one would argue that Macron shares that energy. All three of them have had no trouble drawing large crowds to their rallies, but unlike Corbyn, they appreciate the need to extend their messages beyond the already converted, bringing on new people and new ideas. And while Macron is running a centrist (to centre-left) campaign, he, like Hamon, appreciates the need for populism within a campaign, as the only way to fight right-wing populism is with left-wing/centre ground populism, and the people like Tony Blair setting up their institutes for centre ground politics funded by pro-business elites are kidding themselves if they think that they can lead the fight against populism if they’re not prepared to channel a populism campaign themselves. What people have found so appealing about populism campaigns, particularly with Brexit and Donald Trump, is that it reaches out to the ordinary person. That’s why I applaud Macron, Hamon, and Sanders for appreciating the benefits of running a populist campaign and building left wing populist campaigns.
And it is for this reason why I find the choice between Macron and Hamon so difficult. Of course, it remains to be seen as to who will actually win the primary, but this particular blogger will be watching with interest.