Mabel Berezin is professor of sociology at Cornell University and author of “Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Culture, Security and Populism in the New Europe” and “Europe Without Borders.” Berezin says comparisons between French populist candidate Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump – already fraught – may end this weekend, when Le Pen faces the first round of France’s presidential election.
“The race for the French presidential election remains volatile and unpredictable. Up until 10 days ago, analysts – myself included – considered far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and left-centrist Emmanuel Macron sure bets for making it to the second run-off round.
“But more recently, far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon began surging in the polls, perhaps because he can provide a left populist alternative to the free-falling Socialist party candidate.
“During the course of this race, pundits have referenced the 2002 presidential election where Le Pen’s father made it to the second round. Analysts evoke parallels of substance – but recent developments suggest they are looking in the wrong place. The 2002 second round was an accident of numbers. Le Pen père literally slipped into the second round in 2002. In a year of surprises and instabilities, Le Pen fille could as easily slip out.
“This four-way race could end up working against Marine Le Pen. Instead of Donald Trump – a bad comparison from the beginning – the April surprise could be that Marine is really Hillary.”
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