The Cipher Brief: Macron, Le Pen Offer France Stark Security, Defense Choices

Our Martin Michelot contributed to an article on The Cipher Brief, where he analysed the stances of both second-round candidates within the French presidential elections on terrorism and security issues.

From terrorism to Russia to European defense, the candidates are “polar opposites”.

Terrorism and security present a potential vulnerability for Macron, as Le Pen has suggested, given his lack of experience. However, he has built up a substantial team of security and defense experts, most notably French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a very popular and well-respected figure whose endorsement was “badly needed” to push back against the perception Macron is weak on terrorism.

On the whole, however, the terrorism discussion during the campaign has not been serious because it has really been politicized and used as a personal attack by Le Pen to try to show Macron is unprepared for the fight against terrorism.

Le Pen has frequently talked about “no longer being the lapdog of the United States,” and in French political discourse NATO and the U.S. tend to be interchangeable. The far-right candidate often alludes to leaving NATO’s integrated command and building up the country’s own capabilities, saying that she “doesn’t want France to be forced into the battles of the Americans.”

Macron’s approach is probably the more realistic assessment of when France could actually reach that goal, and his breakdown is in line with the French defense establishment, which has largely rallied around Macron’s candidacy.

You can read the whole article on The Cipher Brief's website.

#France #Frenche elections #terrorism #Emmanuel Macron #Marine Le Pen #NATO #security

Martin Michelot
Senior Associate Research Fellow

Expertise: NATO and transatlantic security, European foreign policy and defense, French politics, elections and society, Visegrad Four and Central Europe, EU institutional issues

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