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Planning for President Le Pen

After the UK's unexpected vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s unexpected triumph in the US presidential election last year, you might imagine that EU leaders have developed detailed contingency plans for a victory by the far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election. You’d be wrong.

LONDON – After the United Kingdom’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s unexpected triumph in the US presidential election last year, you might imagine that Europe’s chancelleries have developed detailed contingency plans for a victory by the far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election. You’d be wrong.

The thought of President Le Pen is so terrifying, it seems, posing such a threat to the future of Europe, that it remains for many a possibility they dare not entertain, much less plan for. But that threat is precisely why Europe must address seriously the possibility of her winning, however unlikely it may seem.

There is no doubt that, as President of France, Le Pen could do serious damage to the European project. She has positioned herself as the antithesis of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and pledged to leave the EU’s border-free Schengen Area and the eurozone. As for the EU itself, she promises to follow in the UK’s footsteps, renegotiating the terms of her country’s membership, and then calling a referendum on the agreement. If the EU rejects the reforms Le Pen demands, she will campaign for a French exit.

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