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No Hidden Vote for Le Pen

Don Rose 25 April 2017 No Comment

PARIS–As I write this, the first-time, center-left candidate Emmanuel Macron has about 24 percent of the vote vs. Marine Le Pen’s 22 percent in the first round of the French presidential elections, remarkably close to the past month’s polling. Several of the remaining nine candidates, left and center-right, rushed to endorse him against the ultra-right-wing Le Pen, giving him a distinct advantage in the runoff two weeks hence.

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There was a huge 80 percent turnout Sunday, with as many as 20 percent of those voting declining to vote for president. A substantial portion of those can be expected to go for Macron under the circumstances.

The 36-year-old Macron is a former finance minister in the out-going socialist government, who benefitted from a major financial scandal that mired down the early favorite, conservative Francois Fillon, who finished in a tie for third place–out of the money in this system, similar to some states’ “jungle primaries” and Chicago’s “non-partisan” mayoral elections.

Those who feared the crypto-fascist Le Pen might have a “hidden” vote, as Donald Trump apparently did, can take comfort in the fact that her actual vote is within less than a point of where she was polling right up to Friday night. Le Pen was Trump’s unspoken favorite–and Vladimir Putin’s. She ran on a strongly anti-immigrant program and wanted to lead France out of the European Union as well as NATO. Sound familiar?

There is certain to be a barrage of personal attacks against the favorite Macron in the next two weeks. Married to a woman 26 years his senior, he is widely believed to be gay or bisexual, but in this sophisticated nation that’s not going to hurt much. (Paris has previously elected an openly gay mayor.)

Le Pen is also notoriously short of funds, but may wind up with money funneled one way or the other from Putin, Trump or both, according to the inside dopesters. Nevertheless, I feel relatively comfortable about this outcome and expect to enjoy the final week of my visit here, which has been exciting, though marred by mostly chilly weather that seriously limits lounging on cafe terraces. cafes.

On an even happier subject, my companion, Madame Z and I took in a couple of sensational art exhibitions led by a special showing of virtually all the works of that 17th century master of light, Johannes Vermeer, at the Louvre. The crowds for this show are the largest I have ever seen here.

Moving up a few centuries, the Pompidou Center has a vast retrospective of the American abstractionist Cy Twombly. Never a great favorite of mine, his reputation has grown through the decades. After viewing scores more of his paintings I can begin to understand why.

On the food front it will be difficult to surpass our magnificent five-course meal at Spring, whose chef-owner Daniel Rose (no relation) is a product of suburban Chicago who took Paris by storm years ago and has now done the same in New York, where his Le Coucou was named last year’s best restaurant by the New York Times.

Not a bad start for our brief Parisian sojourn.

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Don Rose is a regular columnist (and occasional restaurant reviewer) for the Chicago Daily Observer

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