Match Point

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French authorities recently charged two boys aged 12 and 13 with raping a 12-year-old girl in the Paris suburb of Courbevoie in what they believe was an anti-Semitic attack. The boys mentioned Palestine during the incident, according to a lawyer and Jewish leader quoted by the Associated Press.

This story is horrific and comes after French President Emmanuel Macron called snap French legislative elections on June 30 and July 7, after far-right parties in France and throughout Europe won big in recent European Parliamentary elections.

Macron called the elections to force a face-off between his allies and the far-right (and far-left) politicians who have been criticizing his centrist policies. His gamble is that, when put to the test, French voters aren’t as extreme as the recent European Parliamentary ballot suggested. The move was daring and arguably foolhardy: Foreign Policy magazine described Macron as a “pyromaniac firefighter, or someone who sets fires to put them out.”

Macron has good reason to think the same results won’t occur, however. As World Politics Review explained, the European elections use proportional voting, with each party receiving the percentage of legislative seats equaling their share of the vote, while French elections use single-member constituencies.

Still, the alleged rape in Courbevoie is exactly the sort of crime that far-right French candidates would blame on Muslim migrants, and their advocates, who have flooded into Europe from North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia in recent years.

Marine Le Pen, the figurehead for the far-right National Rally party, for instance, immediately blamed leftists for the incident, saying they have stigmatized Israel for its devastating response in the Gaza Strip to Hamas’ devasting attack on Israel on Oct. 7, reported Euronews.

As the investigators look into the French attack, meanwhile, the campaign continues.

Appealing to French voters seeking widespread change, National Rally President Jordan Bardella said he needs an absolute majority to push through policies to end migration, cut fuel taxes designed to fight climate change, and other left-of-center policies, Reuters wrote.

Macron’s inner circle is not happy, Politico added. The upcoming vote will greatly impact the 2027 election when the French choose a new president. Macron will not be able to run for reelection, but no liberal exists at present to take his place yet. Perhaps a champion will emerge from the legislative elections. Or perhaps Macron’s allies will suffer losses that will consign them to the dust heap of history.

It’s a toss-up that voters will decide.

Meanwhile, the elections are coming just before the Olympics begin. Some worry that they could impact the Games, especially if no party gets a majority.

“France risks becoming ungovernable (then),” Karim Émile Bitar, a political analyst at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations in Paris, told the Washington Times. “What’s also likely to happen is a third round (of elections) on the streets with massive demonstrations from both sides that could jeopardize the Olympics.”

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