North County Leader

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Deal or No Deal

Europe

We note former President Obama joined all the mainline French political leaders in calling on their supporters to vote for Macron in the final round of the Presidential election.

I wonder what impact such intervention had on an electorate, which the opinion polls say had their minds clearly made up. French opinion polls last week suggested that Macron would get 63 per cent of the poll and Le Pen some 34 per cent. While a sample poll of nearly a quarter of a million supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who won almost 20 per cent of voters in the first round was published. It suggests 29 per cent would not take part in the second round of voting, with 36 per cent intent on spoiling their vote, with the remaining 35 per cent voting for Macron.

When that information is factored into calculations on the back of a canvass card, the national poll looked about right. But the poll is the cause of real concern. The disaffection of the Mélenchon voter with 2 out of 3 walking away from the process, which suggest their sense of disengagement. It was clear that should those voters be added to Le Pen’s vote, she could run Macron very tight.

So, it was no surprise that Macron in the final days embraced the call for reform of EU structures. As he tried to reach out into that space which Mélenchon had worked and which so easily could slip to Le Pen who has a clear anti EU agenda.

The French election points clearly to a major disconnect between the Brussels elite and the ordinary voter. A new style of communication and engagement is required. There is no point in being the team captain if the team stays in the dressing room. Last year, I made that point to Commissioner Hogan when I met him in Strasbourg. He told me that the Commission was well aware of the problem and they were working on it. They need to get their act together or they’ll find neither ball nor pitch is available to them after the 2019 European Election.

The megaphone negotiations between Junker and May adds nothing to resolving the problems which Brexit present. Donald Tusk is right to warn that unless the talks commence in a calm manner, there will be no agreement. Gun boat diplomacy will not work for team Junker. Those remaining in the EU want the issues resolved. If anything, such behaviour suits Mrs. May as it reminds her countrymen of the glory days of British gunboat diplomacy. The rest of us just want a fair resolution of the issues which should be arrived at in the best interest of all.