After a succession of dramatic political events across the Western world in 2016, all eyes were on the French presidential election when it took place in the first half of 2017. Would the French resist the sirens of populism? Would the surprise campaign of the youngest candidate ever, Emmanuel Macron, offer a vision strong enough to lift the European continent out of the crisis into which it was plunged by the Greek financial crisis and the Brexit referendum? Would it rescue liberalism in the new political environment heralded by Donald Trump’s election?
Macron’s success after a dramatic contest was greeted with much relief within Europe and beyond. The man himself became a celebrity, his personality and personal life scrutinised by the media across the world triggering a global ‘Macron mania’. Little attention was paid, though, to the fact that he had won largely by default: first, thanks to the lack of credibility of the candidates chosen by the two main parties during their bloody primaries; then because of the extraordinarily lucky break opened by the corruption allegations levelled at the leading candidate of the centre right, the veteran politician François Fillon.