Flash back eight weeks to Easter weekend, and consider the position Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron were in then. One of them was an experienced and safe pair of hands, riding high in the polls and with a small, but solid majority in Parliament, while the other was an outsider who’d never run in an election before, let alone won one and while he was doing well, there were questions about how whether he could hold off a challenge from a surging left-wing candidate, and even if he could win, how could he ever hope to put together a coalition that would allow him to govern?
Now move forward over the next two months and notice how the fortunes of the two of them have had an inverse relationship over that time. May called an election to see off a seemingly weakened left-wing and give herself a massive majority in Parliament, but instead she’s lost her majority and found that the newly enlivened and surging left are snapping at her heels. Macron, by contrast, saw off the threat of Melenchon in the first round, then crushed Le Pen in the second to win the Presidency by a clear margin.
Since then, he’s barely put a foot wrong, while she’s bounced from unforced error to unforced error, and now both countries are having parliamentary elections within a few days of each other (the first round of France’s Presidential elections happen tomorrow). The leader who had a twenty-point poll lead in April and was being projected to win a massive majority failed to even protect her small one and is now scrabbling around looking for allies, while her trusted advisers have quit. On the other side of La Manche, April’s untested candidate with little infrastructure around him has put together a coalition of support, drawn in a wide range of trusted advisers and is projected to win a massive victory in tomorrow’s elections, possibly with a majority of over 200.
One keeps on sliding as the other rises higher, and it’s definitely not the way round we expected them to be two months ago.
Originally published at www.nickbarlow.com on June 10, 2017.