In the latest fad of the media merry-go-round, the predictable is just too predictable – so we’re meant to predict the unpredictable. I can’t imagine the existential leaps-to-conclusions in the media if the upcoming French Presidential election results in neither of the two main parties being present in the run-off. The most recent poll suggests than Front National’s Marine Le Pen will be accompanied in the second round by centrist Emanuel Macron, replacing scandal-hit conservative Fillon. At this point, have Brexit and Trump victories made Le Pen the fashionable choice to predict? And if so, doesn’t that make her victory the obvious media-narrative assumption we’re all meant to stay well away from?
But wait! A victory for Macron would surely be taken as liberal, globalised democracy steadying itself into supremacy after a passing phase of anti-establishment gimmicks – and wouldn’t that be another example of the liberal bubble complacency that got us here? Of course it’s still possible that Fillon drops out and the centre-right adopts a new candidate, perhaps even former President Sarkozy, who goes on to win despite not even being a nominee. Or that Fillon himself steadies in the polls and retakes his place in the run-off.
In short, no one has any idea what’s going on. And frankly that really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. We ought to have learned by now to give up with the horse-race punditry of political media, stop making predictions, stop being devastated that you didn’t put a 20/1 bet on Macron three months ago – and start covering elections with the approach they deserve: bemused, detached anticipation of the people making whatever decisions they make.