Election 2020

Le Pen Is Silent, But Macron Will Welcome Trump’s Demise

Preoccupied with domestic challenges and an impending contest with a populist rival, France’s government will benefit from the defeat of the far-right across the Atlantic.

French President Emmanuel  Macron  speaks with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo  during the French Cup soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Saint-Etienne on July 24 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo during the French Cup soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Saint-Etienne on July 24 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

PARIS—Subdued satisfaction was the most that French politicians offered to Joe Biden following the announcement of his presidential election win over the weekend.

President Emmanuel Macron summed up the mood with a low-key tweet about the Democratic Party victors: “The Americans have chosen their president. Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!”

Macron is overrun with problems at home, not least the coronavirus pandemic, and events across the Atlantic are a very low priority right now.

PARIS—Subdued satisfaction was the most that French politicians offered to Joe Biden following the announcement of his presidential election win over the weekend.

President Emmanuel Macron summed up the mood with a low-key tweet about the Democratic Party victors: “The Americans have chosen their president. Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!”

Macron is overrun with problems at home, not least the coronavirus pandemic, and events across the Atlantic are a very low priority right now.

The fact that we will be well into a very uncertain 2021 before Trump quits the White House, and that he will be fighting his eviction every step of the way, made the latest news from the United States even less inspiring.

Marine Le Pen—leader of the far-right Rassemblement National (National Rally, formerly the National Front) and currently Macron’s most effective rival—was spectacularly nonplussed.

She was the first in France to congratulate Trump and the Republicans in 2016, but this time had not a single word for the successful Democratic candidates.

Instead, her deputy, Jordan Bardella, suggested that untrustworthy liberal journalists had helped dislodge—somebody who shares Le Pen’s highly aggressive, reactionary outlook.

Bardella tweeted: “Regardless of who wins the legal action, it can already be said that there is an overwhelming loser: media ethics …Anti-Trump propaganda, by a system that believes itself to be all-powerful, has reached unprecedented levels. Very disturbing.”

Speaking of alleged fake news, ridiculous reports about the bells of Paris ringing out for Biden were among the low points of election coverage in France.

Social media users (who should know better) even claimed that the Eiffel Tower was putting on a light show for the president-elect.

The videos that accompanied these claims were circulated by thousands of people, giving the impression that the French Republic, and indeed the religious institutions within it, might celebrate the result of a foreign election.

In fact, the Eiffel Tower lights go on every night, even during a coronavirus lockdown when tourists and other visitors are not allowed anywhere near the monument.

As for the bells, there would be more chance of Quasimodo and Esmeralda absconding to Las Vegas to get married in an Elvis chapel than a Paris priest authorizing campanology on behalf of Biden (even if he will be the first Roman Catholic president since JFK).

Any ringing was because of automatic systems that had been left on since before the start of lockdown.

Some might claim that such fake news does not really matter, and that the beginning of the end of Trump’s America is what the French should indeed be joyous about.

In fact, such manipulated information has thrived across the world over the last four years, and much of it has emanated from the Trump administration. This was a president who once said that “Paris is no longer Paris” because of immigrants creating no-go areas—which of course is not true.

It was therefore sad to see his demise being marked with just the kind of lies about France for which he had become notorious.

During one of Trump’s anti-Paris outbursts, Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris—herself an immigrant from Spain—had tweeted a photo of herself with Mickey and Minnie Mouse inviting Trump to France to “celebrate the dynamism and the spirit of openness of Paris.”

It’s doubtful that the invitation remains open to the outgoing leader, but Biden can look forward—bells or not—to a very warm welcome.

Nabila Ramdani is an award-winning French-Algerian journalist, columnist, and broadcaster who specializes in French politics, Islamic affairs, and the Arab world. Twitter: @NabilaRamdani

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