Should Gary be allowed to debate?

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Getty Images. 

“Let Gary debate. Let Gary debate.” The chant rang around the recent rally held in Seattle by Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his running mate, Bill Weld. Alas, Johnson’s supporters were to be disappointed.

On Friday, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that both Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein had failed to make the cut for the first presidential debate, due to be held on 26 September.

Johnson responded by describing the presidential debates as a “rigged game”, going on to say, “Democrats and Republicans make up the presidential debate commission, 15 percent is not the law. It’s Democrats and Republicans not wanting a Ross Perot on the stage again.”

He’s got a point.

The American Presidential electoral system conspires against third-party candidates, perhaps more than any other system in the world. Johnson certainly has some right to feel aggrieved at his exclusion from the first debate.

As a libertarian, Johnson has views that span the political spectrum. As such, it is difficult to predict whether his popularity is more of a danger to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Johnson is fiscally conservative — he wants to abolish the minimum wage, abolish income tax and replace it with a national sales tax, as well as submitting a fully balanced budget. Yet, he is also very socially liberal — he favours the legalisation of marijuana, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights. With this melting pot of views he clearly has the potential to prove dangerous to both Clinton and Trump, whilst his socially liberal views give him the chance to court the young voters who are so far proving rather elusive to both candidates. Given Johnson’s potential to prove dangerous to both Clinton and Trump, there is little to gain from allowing him into the presidential debates. Consequently, it seems highly unlikely that he will make a debate.

Johnson says this is unfair, citing the case of Ross Perot who was allowed to take part in presidential debates during the 1992 Presidential Election. Johnson claims that Perot was granted permission to take part in the debates despite polling in single figures at the time. This isn’t strictly true. Throughout the early autumn of 1992, Perot was generally polling around 10 to 20 per cent. This was despite him having dropped out of the race between June and September due to various campaign difficulties. Prior to this temporary drop-out, Perot had been polling as high as 39 per cent. Therefore, for Johnson to compare his case to Perot’s is bending the truth a little. Perot clearly enjoyed a significantly higher level of nationwide support than Johnson currently does. In terms of the precedent set by previous presidential elections, the campaign of Gary Johnson has no divine right to be featured in the presidential debates.

However, that being said, this is no ordinary presidential election.

The 2016 Presidential Election has been particularly notable for the fact that this is the only occasion in recent times where both the candidates selected by the two major parties have proven to be quite so unpopular. Whilst both Clinton and Trump are adored by their base supporters, in the minds of swing voters they leave a lot to be desired.

Bearing this in mind, it seems fair that Gary Johnson be allowed to take part in the Sept. 26 Presidential Debate. In such a divisive election, allowing voters another option is definitely the right thing to do.

And yes, I know that as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are on the ballot paper then voters nominally have the option of voting for them. But, the fact of the matter is that their lack of media coverage means that the vast majority of the electorate have no idea who they are.

That Johnson has managed to reach double figures in the polls despite this lack of media exposure, suggests that many voters are interested in what he has to say. He has reached this height in the polls despite a polling system that works against him. Johnson has been shown to be doing particularly well amongst millennial voters, yet the main polling method used is through landline telephone, something most millennials don’t use. What’s more, much of the polling doesn’t even include Johnson, with polling companies generally restricting their polls to head-to-head match-ups between Trump and Clinton. Given these circumstances, it seems almost impossible for Johnson to reach the mythical 15 per cent polling threshold, and to gain inclusion in the debates.

Therefore, it seems only fair to allow him to share his vision for the future of America on the national stage, as well as a proper chance to explain (and be interrogated about) his monumental “what is Aleppo?” gaffe.

So, let Gary debate!

Tim Farron potentially offers the best hope for centrist politics in the UK… if only anyone knew who he was…

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(Getty Images)

Since the result of the EU Referendum was revealed, David Cameron has resigned to be replaced by the more right-wing Theresa May, whilst Jeremy Corbyn has tightened his grip on the Labour Party and dragged it further to the left of the political spectrum. This has left a noticeable gap in the centre of UK politics, which has, in recent years at least, been the area political parties are forced to pitch from if they are to win elections.

Despite his party having been reduced to just eight MPs at the 2015 General Election, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has been outspoken about how he believes that his party can fill the vacuum that has opened up in the political centre. On the opening day of the Liberal Democrat conference on Saturday, Farron invited moderates from the Conservative Party and the Labour Party to defect to the Liberal Democrats and aid them in occupying the centre ground.

“Across the range of British politics we now see populists of the far left and the far right getting hold their parties. There are people who are liberals in the Labour party and people in the Conservative party who will be feeling increasingly uncomfortable about the direction of their party. My simple offer to those liberals in other parties is, do you know what, maybe it’s time to join a liberal party.” Tim Farron speaking on Saturday. 

Ultimately, Farron seems to believe that the vacuum opening up in the supposed centre of British politics is one which can easily be filled by the Liberal Democrats. His argument is that moderates from the Conservatives and Labour must both be displeased enough with the direction of their party that they would be interested in the opportunity to defect to a party of the centre.

But, after the Brexit vote, does the political centre remain the same? The result of the EU Referendum would suggest that perhaps it doesn’t, making Farron’s job rather difficult. Brexit was a vote totally against the political establishment (i.e. those who ordinarily make up the political centre), suggesting that the centre which Farron talks about is no more. But, it must be remembered that the referendum was fought in a totally different way to a normal general election, with debate being based more around emotive arguments on patriotism, sovereignty, and immigration than economic and fact-based arguments. One would expect that come the next general election, there will be at least some shift back to debate on an economic level, although at this early stage it is hard to say how much.

A recent report by the think tank the Social Market Foundation (SMF), analysed where UK voters see themselves falling on the political spectrum, and where they see certain high-profile politicians on the political spectrum.

SMF began by asking respondents whether they identified as centrist, right, or left. The good news for Farron and the Liberal Democrats is that 45% of respondents placed themselves on the centre, compared to 25% on the left and 30% on the right. This suggests that their is a broad group of people with centrist views who Farron can pitch to.

What’s more, when asked where on the political spectrum they would place Farron, a majority of respondents answered that they would place him on the centre as well. This suggests that he is indeed in the perfect place to hoover up the voters who consider themselves centrist and have nowhere else to go.

However, these figures are complicated by several factors.

Firstly, although respondent’s identify as right, left, or centrist, many of them hold a much more convoluted set of political views. For example, over 60% of respondents said that they supported a ban on zero hour contracts, which would typically be said to be a left-wing policy, given that it was a centrepiece of Ed Miliband’s manifesto during the 2015 general election. However, there is also support of more than 60% for reducing immigration to a level below 100,000; which would typically be seen as a right-wing policy. Therefore, the measure of how the respondents identify politically isn’t a particularly useful one. Instead, SMF divided the respondents into eight different groups depending on their support for various policies. The two largest groups comprise around half the electorate, and are clearly on the right of the political spectrum. These are people who mostly voted for Brexit and support a significant reduction in immigration. As a result, there is no chance of them voting for Farron or the Liberal Democrats. Therefore, despite the vacuum in the political centre, it does not look as though there would be space for the Liberal Democrats to win a majority at a general election. Suggesting that Farron is wrong to suggest that the Lib Dems are capable of becoming the new party of the centre.

However, there are four groups in the centre of the political spectrum — both centre-right and centre-left. These are people who generally voted to Remain in the EU, and support Britain’s continued membership of the single market. Many of this group might ordinarily vote Conservative, yet they are slightly anxious about the direction their party is travelling. This centrist group also comprises a relatively large group of voters who would ordinarily vote Labour, however they feel that Jeremy Corbyn is too left-wing. These are the voters who are now up for grabs, and who Farron should be doing his utmost to court.

Given that most consider him the most centrist of the party leaders, he would seem to be in the ideal position to make inroads into this group. However, almost half of respondents said that they didn’t know enough about Farron to attempt to place him on the political spectrum. This has to change if he is to be successful.

Finally, as long as Britain retains a First-Past-The-Post electoral system, Farron and the Lib Dems will be severely hampered. To put it frankly, why vote for a party that has little chance of winning?

 Many of those in the political centre who would ordinarily vote Conservative or Labour are looking for a reason to split from their party, for a variety of reasons. However, this won’t happen without electoral reform. Therefore, the time is right for Farron to launch a new argument for reform of Britain’s electoral system.

Overall, Farron seemingly has the ability to occupy the centre-ground of British politics. However, his problem is that voters know so little about him. With the Lib Dems only having eight MPs, Farron doesn’t even get a weekly question in Prime Minister’s Questions, so it is hard to see how this lack of recognition is going to change any time soon.

If Farron is serious about occupy the centre then he must act soon to rapidly build his profile around the country, particularly in areas where there was strong support for Remain, and areas where support for Corbyn’s Labour and May’s Conservatives is ebbing.

Farron occupying the centre is certainly possible, but it is undoubtedly going to take a long, long time.

The problem with the boundary review.

Earlier this week the Boundary Commission released their proposals for a reduction in English parliamentary seats from 533 to 501 and Welsh parliamentary seats from 40 to 29, as part of a wider scheme to reduce the size of the House of Commons from 650 MPs to just 600.

The aims of this scheme are twofold. Firstly, the review aims to equalise the number of voters in each constituency in order to make the system more democratic, and secondly it aims to reduce the cost of politics by lessening the number of MPs. However, although attempting to increase the democracy of our parliamentary system makes perfect sense, the way the boundary review has attempted to achieve this leaves a lot to be desired.

The aim of equalising the number of voters in each constituency is an admirable one, and one which ostensibly should improve our parliamentary democracy.

Currently, there are a great deal of parliamentary seats with a greatly unequal electorate. For example, Wirral West has an electorate of just 54,232; in stark contrast to Manchester Central with its electorate of 87,339. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to try and equalise constituencies such as this in order for each voter to have the same democratic rights.

However, achieving this by reducing the number of MPs is not the way to go. There are already complaints from the public that MPs don’t spend enough time serving their constituents. For the most part this is because they simply don’t have the time, and tend to represent so many people that it is simply impossible for them to do all of the work requested of them. By reducing the number of MPs we are simply going to make this more difficult, and constituencies would be represented in Parliament to an even lesser degree. To reduce the number of MPs would be a grave error, particularly in a year when we have already lost 73 MEPs. In reality, if we want to equalise the number of voters in each constituency, then we should be increasing the number of MPs.

As well as this, the gerrymandering which has taken place in order to engineer constituencies of the same size means that we are left with constituencies made up of communities which bear little similarity to each other. Many of the new constituencies have been created by combining traditional Conservative and Labour seats. This surely means that whoever is elected in these seats will be representing a relatively small proportion of the seat’s population. What’s more, these new constituencies have been created using data that is almost a year out of date, excluding all those who registered to vote between December and June in advance of the EU Referendum, and the increase in political participation that this brought.

In addition, despite this reduction in the number of parliamentary seats there has been no mooted reduction in the number of Government Ministers. The main job of MPs is to scrutinise the work of the Government. The fact that the number of Ministers isn’t also being reduced means that the Executive will have an even greater presence in Parliament, therefore making the scrutiny of Government proposals considerably more difficult for MPs.

What’s more, the aim of increasing the democracy in our parliamentary system is an admirable one, and it would be hoped that voter turnout could be dramatically increased if people felt that the system was more democratic. However, if the government are so keen on increasing democracy then why won’t they entertain the idea of electoral reform, or reform of the House of Lords? If we are going to go ahead with one set of reforms to improve our democracy, then it would make sense to also check the democracy of other aspects of the system.

Since the boundary review was set up, 144 new peerages have been created. This means that the unelected House of Lords now dwarfs the House of Commons with 796 members. Last week Conservative MP Charles Walker, Chair of the House of Commons Procedures Committee said: “It seems perverse to reduce the number of elected representatives in this place while the Lords continues to gorge itself on new arrivals.” He is absolutely right. For an unelected chamber to be larger than our elected House of Commons seems absurd. Many members of the House of Lords do bring skills and experience to the table which are extremely useful for the scrutiny of Government legislation, however it has increasingly become full of the political allies of past Prime Ministers, who are given peerages as rewards for loyalty. This type of patronage should not be what the House of Lords is about. There does seem to be appetite from within the House of Lords for such reform, with many peers feeling the chamber has become too bloated. Lord Desai says as much in his letter to The Times today. Desai states that slimming down the Lords should be a priority, and that it is the House of Commons which hasn’t favoured reform rather than the Lords itself.

In addition, throughout this boundary review the Government have stated that one of their key aims is to make every vote count. We already know that this is unachievable under the First-Past-The-Post system, yet the Government do not seem inclined to consider electoral reform.

Overall, the idea of equalising constituencies is a good one. It is right that the vote of each UK citizen should be worth the same amount. However, doing it this way has been a mistake. Although the rationale for reducing the number of MPs is to save money, the actual saving will be just £66m over the course of a five-year Parliament. A drop in the ocean in terms of the budget. The significant loss of Parliamentary representation is far more important than this negligible saving. Whilst if we are examining our democracy and looking for improvements, why not further consider electoral reform or reform of the House of Lords? Changes such as this would make people value their right to vote much more, and would lead to a significant improvement of our Parliamentary democracy.

Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia shouldn’t preclude her from becoming President, but it has certainly handed Donald Trump a real chance.

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton’s doctor revealed that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia on the previous Friday, leading to speculation that she may have to drop out of the race.

There are many on the side of Republican nominee Donald Trump who say that Clinton’s illness has proved that she is not fit to serve as President, and that she should therefore withdraw herself from consideration. However, an illness such as this should not preclude a candidate from consideration in a Presidential race.

There is a long history of ill health amongst individuals serving as President of the United States, and so it should not really be seen as such a problem.

Some of the most celebrated individuals to have served as President suffered from serious health problems during their time in office. Woodrow Wilson suffered a serious stroke whilst in office, and became permanently paralysed on his left side. He continued to run the country whilst keeping his condition a secret from his Cabinet and the general public. John F. Kennedy was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease in 1947, which caused him to suffer from an array of health problems, fourteen years before becoming President. He kept this secret from the electorate whilst projecting an image of youth and vitality during the campaign. And, perhaps most importantly for the Republicans calling on Clinton to drop out, Ronald Reagan, who became the eldest first term President in 1981, was also plagued by an array of serious health problems during his Presidency. This included having to relinquish Presidential power to the Vice-President for a period of eight hours during 1985 whilst he underwent surgery to remove cancerous tissue from his colon. The suitability of these individuals wasn’t questioned in the same way as Hillary Clinton’s is being today.

As long as a candidate can demonstrate the skills and experience to serve as President (and we know that Hillary Clinton certainly can) then their health shouldn’t be a significant problem, and therefore Hillary Clinton should not be perceived negatively as a result of being diagnosed with pneumonia.

On the contrary, she should be applauded for continuing with her heavy schedule despite the onset of illness.

However, although Clinton’s pneumonia should not preclude her from becoming the President, it has handed Donald Trump a significant opportunity. The problem is not the illness itself, but rather the way in which it was handled by the Clinton campaign.

Although Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday, this wasn’t revealed by the campaign until Sunday. Prior to this revelation, aides stated that the episode which saw Clinton collapse at the 9/11 commemoration in New York was simply a case of “overheating”.

Now for most candidates, this shouldn’t be a particularly big deal. Although the campaign can be accused of a lack of transparency, candidates on the Presidential campaign trail have historically become ill because of the hectic schedule and have not been expected to disclose their illnesses.

However, the problem for Hillary is that she is already seen to be lacking in honesty. Polling by numerous organisations has suggested that the vast majority of the American electorate do not believe that she is honest and trustworthy. For there to be another instance which allows this accusation to be levelled against her is the last thing that the campaign needs.

This incident only serves to remind the electorate of the Clinton family’s reputation for dishonesty. A reputation perhaps unfairly gained but, in the context of a Presidential campaign, what is fair or unfair doesn’t really come into it. This incident will only serve to remind the electorate of the problems with Clinton’s emails, or of the accusations levelled against her husband during his time as President.

It would be surprising for this incident not to further hit Clinton’s poll numbers, and with only a couple of months until the election, this is the last thing she needs.

If Clinton is to be sure to win this election then she needs to end her lack of openness, described by former Obama strategist David Axelrod as, “an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems.” Remember that prior to Thursday, the Clinton campaign hadn’t held a proper press conference for around nine months. This lack of transparency hasn’t gone down too well with the press, and is also likely to play into Trump’s hands. Over the course of the campaign Trump has criticised Clinton for looking as though she lacks energy, and this incident is simply going to provide him with another opportunity to do the same.

In any democracy around the world, the electorate do not generally take kindly to having the wool pulled over their eyes. When you take into account the fact that the Clinton campaign already has a reputation for lacking transparency, then failing to disclose the extent of her illness could be an error of great magnitude.

Ultimately, although the illness itself should in no way prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming President, the campaign’s handling of the issue has been poor. Particularly at this late stage in the campaign.

This definitely gives Trump the chance to cash in and gain the momentum once again.

If Clinton is serious about winning the Presidency, then the errors needs to stop. She has had ample opportunity to put the Presidential race to bed, but little slip-ups keep stopping her in her tracks.

If she is going to defeat Trump in November then these errors need to stop, and she needs to open her campaign up to more press scrutiny in order to dispel the views of those who call her dishonest. If she fails to do this, who knows what will happen come November, what is certain though, is that Trump will have the edge.

Getting Theresa May’s grammar school policy through Parliament won’t be a walk in the park for the Government.

If Theresa May is serious about her misguided plans for new grammar schools (and her words in Saturday’s Daily Mail seem to suggest that she’s deadly serious) then she has a serious fight on her hands.

The Conservatives currently have a working Parliamentary majority of just seventeen. This means that in theory, they should be able to pass this policy into law with ease. However, this ignores several key points.

Firstly, although the expansion of grammar schools has long been a policy which works well to excite the base of the Conservative Party, it is not an issue which the Parliamentary Party universally agree upon. Several high-profile members of the Cameron administration (including the ex-PM himself) harbour serious doubts about the wisdom of allowing new grammar schools to open. It was for these reasons that David Cameron didn’t pursue the opening of new grammar schools whilst he was in Government. Former Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan criticised the government’s plans this week, saying: “I believe that an increase in pupil segregation on the basis of academic selection would be at best a distraction from crucial reforms to raise standards and narrow the attainment gap and at worst risk actively undermining six years of progressive education reform.” It is well known that this view is shared by Mrs Morgan’s predecessor as Education Secretary, Michael Gove. Both Morgan and Gove remain very influential amongst the modernising wing of the Conservative Parliamentary Party, and so don’t be surprised if they work to derail the Prime Minister’s plans. After all, both are still smarting after being sacked from the Cabinet in Theresa May’s July reshuffle.

Morgan’s reservations were echoed by Neil Carmichael, the head of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, who said that the grammar school policy could, “distract us from our fundamental task of improving social mobility.” With no fewer than five other Conservative MPs having already expressed reservations about the plans, and current Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening not appearing wild about the idea, the Government’s majority is suddenly beginning to look very slim indeed.

Add to this the fact that the introduction on new grammar schools was not a part of the Conservative Party’s 2015 General Election manifesto, and the prospect of the policy passing through Parliament begins to look even more improbable. The Salisbury Convention means that, as a general rule, the House of Lords do not oppose the passage of legislation which has been promised in a party’s winning election manifesto. However, opening new grammar schools was not promised in the Conservative election manifesto. UKIP were in fact the only party who campaigned upon a platform of opening new grammar schools. This means that the House of Lords have free rein to reject the bill. Seeing as the Conservative Party do not have a majority in the House of Lords, it is to be expected that Labour and Liberal Democrat peers would be successful in voting down the bill.

In addition, although opinion polls suggest that the public are in favour of new grammar schools being opened, there hardly seems to be public clamour for the policy. In his column in Sunday’s Observer, Andrew Rawnsley suggested that the polls were misleading and simply suggested high support for grammar schools because most people don’t know what grammar schools really are, and what more of them would actually mean. This seems to be a somewhat accurate analysis. Perhaps a more pertinent question would be to poll the electorate on their support for the return of Secondary Moderns, the hated institutions where those who didn’t get into a grammar school ended up. Although Theresa May has said that new grammar schools would not mean a return to Secondary Moderns, it is hard to see what else it could mean. When this becomes clear, it would be unsurprising to see poll numbers in support of new grammar schools fall rapidly.

Overall, this plan seems a complete waste of time for Theresa May and her Government. The chances of getting it through Parliament appear slim at best. Ultimately, if she really wants to open new grammar schools then she will need to call an early election to gain her own mandate for the plans. Yes, that early election that the Prime Minister keeps insisting she won’t be calling.

Alternatively, she could continue governing and aim for some actual reform rather than a rehashed policy aimed purely at appeasing the Conservative Party base.

Why you shouldn’t read too much into polls which show Trump in the lead.

Last week new polling suggested that Donald Trump had moved ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House. Cue hysteria about the scary prospect of a Trump presidency.

However, people would do well not to set such store by this type of nationwide polling. Because, it does not tell the whole story. For this is an election which will be won and lost in the battleground (or bellwether) states.

Realistically, there are only a few states which are genuinely in play during a Presidential election, with the electoral college system meaning that a candidate can win the presidency despite losing the popular vote. We saw this with Bush v. Gore in 2000. However, it must be noted that with Trump as the Republican nominee, there are potentially more states in play in 2016 than has been the case in recent Presidential election.

The general consensus is that there are twelve competitive states in a normal presidential election. These are: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, and North Carolina.

If we look at the average polling data from these states, as provided by RealClearPolitics, we can see that the picture is very different to what the national polling suggests.

Battleground State Polling:

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Polling averages in battleground states. 

As you can see from the table above, Clinton has the edge in almost all of the battleground states. In fact, of the twelve, Iowa is the only one which Trump can feel confident of winning at this stage.

If the polling average of the battleground states is calculated then it comes to an advantage of 3.8% for Hillary Clinton. This is much more reliable indicator of how this election is panning out, and suggests that despite polling to the contrary, Clinton is well on her way to securing the Presidency.

So calm down Clinton fans, the polling which shows Trump is the lead is misleading. The battleground states is where this election (like most others before it) will be won, and in these states Hillary Clinton is looking strong and remains on course for victory.

 

Is Emmanuel Macron really the saviour of France?

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Photo: Ed Alcock / M.Y.O.P

Last Tuesday Emmanuel Macron resigned from his position as the French Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, a move clearly made with the aim of making a run for the Presidency.

Macron has long been touted as a future French President, perhaps the last hope of the French centre-left in an election which current President François Hollande (if he chooses to run) looks certain to lose. Hollande’s extreme unpopularity is seen as having tainted the Socialist Party in the eyes of the French electorate, which would suggest that Macron’s association with the Hollande administration (he has been a Presidential advisor or Government Minister since 2012) would make a run for the Presidency difficult.

However, Macron has always been seen as being somewhat independent from Hollande and the Socialist Party as a whole. Although Macron was a member of the Socialist Party between 2006 and 2009, he is currently an independent — although he has set up a centrist movement known as ‘En Marche’, ostensibly not as a political party but as a way of fostering new centrist ideas. Although it seems as though this move was really a way of testing the waters in advance of a potential Presidential run, as was always suspected.

One of the things that gives Macron more of a chance of securing the French Presidency than incumbent Hollande, is that he is seen as being a pro-business. Somewhat predictably, Macron previously worked as an investment banker, something that centre-left politicians around the world seem to consider necessary in order to prove their pro-business credentials.

But Macron has already proved that he backs serious reform of the French economy, something that those on the left in France have often been accused of working against. In recent years Macron has attacked areas such as France’s 35-hour working week and large public sector — both seen as sacrosanct by the left. This has made him unpopular with many in the Socialist Party but has succeeded in burnishing his image as someone who could put an end to France’s economic travails.

But, although his expertise on the economy will prove beneficial to Macron’s candidacy, next year’s election is likely to be one which is fought primarily on the issues of terrorism and security. These are issues on which Macron is likely to lack gravitas when compared to his potential opponents in the upcoming Presidential race, most of whom have held high-level elected office before.

This is something else which distinguishes Macron from his opponents, he has never been elected. He worked as an advisor on Hollande’s 2012 Presidential campaign, and an economic advisor to Hollande as President, before being appointed as a Government Minister. But given that he was never elected, he was effectively working as a Civil Servant. If he were to be elected to the Presidency despite having never held elected office before, then this would be astonishing.

What’s more, as mentioned earlier, Macron is not currently a member of any political party. Although this could be seen as being beneficial in terms of detaching him from the perceived failures of the current Socialist Government, the negative is that it denies him any sort of party machine to aid him in winning the Presidency. This may make it extremely difficult to gain any sort of traction in the Presidential election. However, Macron has been busy recruiting an army of around 16,000 volunteers, mostly young people, who spend time door-knocking in an attempt to build the base of support that Macron lacks. They hope that this hard work can propel him to the Presidency.

But ultimately, the 2017 Presidential Election may prove to be too soon for Macron to win. Although he is currently the second most popular politician in France (after only Alain Juppé) it is hard to see him maintaining his position once the main parties unify (or at least attempt to unify) following the conclusion of their primary campaigns.

Given his inexperience and lack of a political party he doesn’t really have the base of support which is often said to be necessary for success in Presidential elections (although Donald Trump has proved in the United States that Presidential candidates can gain momentum without the help of the party machine). What’s more, his inexperience in terms of national security issues may make it hard for him to adequately respond to the types of questions that could be asked of him during the Presidential campaign.

However, although it is hard to see Macron winning the Presidency next year, taking part in the campaign (either as a candidate or a commentator of sorts) could boost his profile and put him on the right track to winning the Presidency in 2022. Whatever happens in next year’s election, expect Emmanuel Macron to be one of the most important figures in European politics in the years to come.