How strong is team Macron-Bayrou?

At a meeting in Paris, French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and François Bayrou, leader of the centrist party MoDem, have sealed their alliance for the spring elections. By declining to run in the presidential race Bayrou hopes to increase Macron's chances of making it into the second round and thus prevent the election of Marine Le Pen. Observers say the strategy could work but might have a negative impact on French politics.

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Macron would also be break with establishment

Handelsblatt hopes protesting voters will opt for Macron rather than Le Pen:

“Once again the driving force is a mixture of voters' frustration over establishment politics and structural problems, the sheer desire to protest and the weakness of the political opponents. So conservative politician François Bayrou's decision not to run as a separate candidate but to back the democratic candidate two months before the election is good news. … Bayrou's support will no doubt give Macron a boost. The investors' fears about a political accident have already abated somewhat. A President Macron would also be a break with the establishment: Macron is a 39-year-old ex-investment banker who has never been elected to political office and who is trying to close the gaps between the Socialists and conservatives. Perhaps that will suffice as a protest vote.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

Political landscape increasingly fragmented

Following the rise of the Front National in the last 15 years France already has three rather than just two strong camps, and the teaming up of Macron and Bayrou is worrying because it could result in further fragmentation of France's political spectrum, L'Opinion explains:

“This triumvirate is perhaps now in the process of becoming a quadriga consisting of a far right, a Republican right, a social democratic centre-left and a protest left, with the two latter camps dividing the remains of the fragmented Socialist party between them. And naturally this is precisely where the new Macron-Bayrou team is starting off: they want to lead social democracy to victory. This strategy may pay off in the presidential election but for the parliamentary elections [in July] is poses huge risks. And it is here that the contradiction of this venture lies: in the idea that a majority can emerge from four more or less equally strong forces.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Economy booming despite insecurity

Despite terrorism and potentially dramatic changes in its politics, France's economy is doing remarkably well, The Irish Independent comments:

“No western European country has endured as many acts of hyper-terrorism in recent times as France. Yet apart from some weakening in visitor numbers, it is hard to find any effect in economy-wide data. What's more, the very latest figures suggest that the French economy is not only growing more strongly in 2017, but that it may even be overtaking Germany in its pace expansion. That is all the more remarkable given that a new president may be moving into the Elysée Palace in Paris in 10 weeks' time who wants France to leave not only the EU but also the euro. These are the policies advocated by Front National candidate Marine Le Pen.”

Libération (FR) /

Macron back on track

Emmanuel Macron's ratings in the polls have gone down in recent weeks, among other things as a result of his controversial remarks about French colonialism in Algeria. So his alliance with Bayrou comes at just the right time, Libération believes:

“Alone and without financial means, François Bayrou could have ended his career. ... After a week of polemics, Emmanuel Macron has found a way to boost his flagging campaign. He has allied himself with a weighty supporter and got rid of a dangerous rival, all without giving the impression that he's resorting to the old-style political deal-making that he claims to abhor. And the whole thing has happened while Benoît Hamon is still trying to conclude his interminable negotiations with The Greens. All that was well worth a (false) alliance.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Alliance of the weak

Just what is so attractive about the alliance between the two politicians? Le Figaro wonders:

“François Bayrou has been forced to renounce a fourth race for the presidency. The clever politician who was overtaken by the leader of En Marche! almost a year ago had no choice but to cede his place. Emmanuel Macron and François Bayrou make a big deal about how well they complement each other, representing two generations and two characters. But above all, theirs is an alliance of two weaknesses. That of Macron, who is hostage to his ambiguities and whose campaign was starting to go downhill. And that of Bayrou, who lacks both support and voters and who is trying to regain his former influence. It is difficult to see in this marriage the basis for a new political approach.”