My President, too

von Maximilian Steinbeis

Dear Friends of Verfassungsblog,

This might very well be the probably been the most momentous election night I will experience in my lifetime, and, praised be the lord, its result has turned out the way I and millions of others all over Europe have wished for, and by a generous margin, too! I was not entitled to vote, and yet this presidential election in France felt also mine in a way that I have hitherto only felt with US elections: Mea res agebatur. The old topos of the absence of a European public – that is simply not true anymore. German cities were full of Germans today blissfully waving their European flags and singing the Ode to Joy at the top of their lungs and discussing so passionately the French election as if it was their own call to stop Marine Le Pen from entering the Elysee palace. And it was their own election in a way, their own affair, even more than the ones in Austria and the Netherlands which we watched mostly as test cases for our own elections, our interest focussed on the impetus a populist victory could give our own populists. This was about us: if one part wins, we lose, and vice versa. And the same goes, as far as I can see, for the normalitarian populists who were swept along by the same wave of European polarization, from Nigel Farage to the AfD. They lost. We won.

What a conclusion to what has been an actually rather awful week. You do not have to be prudish to feel nauseated by the exchanges both between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker and between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. "War" was the word used by the usually comparatively reasonable Guardian to describe the conflict between May and Juncker, and searching for comparable metaphors for the TV clash of the two French presidential aspirants is not a very difficult task either ...

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