It was Wednesday evening the debate of the second round of the French presidential election.
And it was, for Marine Le Pen, the occasion of a great revenge.
After her great failure, not to say her catastrophic performance in 2017, we expected her to shine on Wednesday evening, and surprise the French, at least those who have been driven for a few years by a revolt against Emmanuel Macron .
Certainly, the polls are against him. It could hardly be otherwise as the entire press is campaigning against her, as if her mere presence in the second round was a scandal.
There are people who only accept democracy if it gives the results they want.
She could hope to reverse the trend.
But that’s not what happened.
Marine Le Pen lost again.
And not halfway. It has never managed to dominate the debate, to impose itself on it.
On the defensive to excess, because she wanted more than anything to appear respectable, she will have lost herself in an enumeration of technical measures to prove the value of her program, while Emmanuel Macron, at ease, often arrogant, the overlooked.
There was something awkward about this scene, which felt like a rerun of the 2017 debate only worse.
It must be said that the debate was badly organized, and constructed in such a way that it transformed the political exchange into a technocratic quarrel.
The subjects were sausages. It felt like two great officials quarreling in public.
Put another way, we had less the impression of having before us two candidates for the presidency of a large country, each carrying a vision of its past, its present and its future, than of having two super-technocrats wanting to prove at all costs that they “have their own records”.
Public debate is inhibited. It becomes boring. Because there was something missing in this exchange that we dare not say at the top: a clash between two visions of France.
And yet, these two visions exist.
Emmanuel Macron is part of a globalist and Europeanist conception of France. Who would dispute the talent of this young president, who will probably be re-elected?
Marine Le Pen, beyond the caricatures and the disqualifying labels that are stuck on her, embodies a France in revolt against globalization, and which wishes to reconnect with a certain rootedness.
But this debate will not have taken place. And Marine Le Pen will not have succeeded in embodying this protest, as if all her effort to move from anti-system discourse to that of governmental capacity was collapsing.
Moreover, other debates will have been stifled.
Among these, the one on immigration, as well as the one on insecurity. Yet they are at the heart of public life.
In fact, they found in this debate of more than two hours only a minimal place at the very end of the exchanges, when the immense majority of the televiewers had probably joined their bed.
It was a pointless debate.