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Why Is Macron Hated?

While personality counts in democratic politics, individual quirks do not explain everything. Many French voters’ visceral aversion to President Emmanuel Macron also reflects deeper social fissures resulting from shifts in party politics that began decades ago.

NEW YORK – France is not the United States. Many liberals, including me, worried that Marine Le Pen might just win the French presidency for the same reason that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016: Loathing of the more liberal candidate would enable the far-right populist to squeak through.

Fortunately, enough people who dislike President Emmanuel Macron held their noses and voted for him in the second-round runoff in order to thwart Le Pen. If one must choose between cholera and the plague, many voters stated, then the former was clearly the better option. Macron himself acknowledged as much in his victory speech, stating that, “To all those who voted for me, not in support of my ideas but to block the far right from winning, your vote obligates me.”

But the fact that 41.5% of voters chose Le Pen, a candidate who represents a deeply reactionary, nativist, and illiberal strain in French politics, is still worrying enough. Why, then, do so many people hate Macron?

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