Hillary and Marine
What made poll favourite Hillary Clinton lose 2016 US presidential elections and why was Marine Le Pen defeated in the 2017 French presidential elections? The American people elected a rightist – Donald Trump, in relation with a centrist woman – and the French people elected a centrist – Emmanuel Macron, instead of a rightist woman. In this equation, women are common and are being rejected by both American and French nations in favour of men. Hillary Clinton may put all the blame of her defeat on Putin and the FBI chief, but in reality she was rejected due to the gender bias existing in the hearts and minds of the American people. She was a victim of the narrow mindedness prevailing in America for a woman being the president.
People may think that the defeat of Marine Le Pen is the demise or perhaps a dent to populism in France but three things make us think differently, i) It is the second time in roughly fifteen years that the National Front managed to reach the second round of the French presidential election, ii) Marine secured almost 35pc of the popular vote, and iii) It was not Marine vs Macron, but it was Marine vs The Rest. Marine Le Pen stood at number three in the 2012 presidential elections and now in 2017 she was at number two. Her popularity is growing steadily and the centre–left is perhaps increasingly fearful of her.
Marine’s defeat signals that the French Revolution of 1789 and the subsequent ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’ is still dominating the democratic French Fifth Republic. ‘The Women’s March on Versailles’ in October of that year reflected the insensitive behaviour of French men towards French women. Perhaps France needs another ‘March on Paris’ to secure equal status and rights for women. Not just Marine, but French people elected Nicolas Sarkozy instead of a female candidate Segolene Royal in French presidential elections in 2007 as well.
French and American nations have a lot in common and both helped each other in their respective wars of independence or revolutions. French Major General Marquis de Lafayette helped American General George Washington throughout the American War of Independence from 1775 till 1783. Similarly, American writers especially Thomas Paine paved the way and encouraged the French nation to rise up against an unjust monarchy. Perhaps the similarities prevailing in both countries have greatly shaped their bias against women as well. The French people have denied the services of Madame de Pompadour and Olympe de Gouges in the French Revolution by favouring a man instead of a woman.
On the other hand, Margaret Thatcher somehow managed to become prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1979. Her policies and firm stance during the Falklands War against Argentina made her known as ‘The Iron Lady’. Similarly, France’s neighbour Germany elected its first female Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2005 and for the past twelve years she has been ruling Germany outstandingly while steering it to the heights of glory. Merkel’s staunch resolve to uphold liberal values changed the lives of millions of refugees and kept the European Union from breaking apart. Merkel is seeking a fourth term as chancellor in the upcoming elections.
Apart from Europe, an under developed country like Pakistan, ostensibly with honour killings a common problem, elected its first ever female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto back in the year 1988. Bhutto served twice as prime minister of Pakistan and sacrificed her life along with men at the hands of some Afghanistan-based terrorists on 27 December 2007. It can be deduced that the people of Pakistan have a much broader vision with utmost respect in relation to American and French people, especially when it comes to women.
Macron in France and Trump in America made one thing significantly clear, that the west in general, and America–France in particular, needs to do a lot more to realise that women can also run the matters of the state equally as men can. It is a fact that Hillary Clinton and Marine Le Pen lost their respective elections not because of Putin or Merkel, but the only reason behind their defeat was the ignorance regarding the status of women. The only sin or perhaps crime both ladies ever committed that ultimately became a stumbling block in their respective presidential elections, was them being women. The defeat of Hillary Clinton in America and Marine Le Pen losing in France is an attack on feminism as well.