How Emmanuel Macron Became the French President (video)
Following up from my previous post on body language and eye contact in one of the French presidential debates, here we have the final debate.
This was between the two remaining candidates, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron.
We know now that Macron has won the presidency.
And watching this debate, it’s easy to see why:
Starting out, his framing of Le Pen as a “defeatist” seems to throw her an unexpected curve ball.
He also emphasizes themes of French pride and global influence right from the start, drawing a contrast with Le Pen’s inward-looking ideology.
Macron remains utterly composed and sharp throughout the exchange. Macron is able to keep his calm and rebut every one of Le Pen’s arguments.
He seems fully knowledgeable of the facts and data on each issue (expected given his past experience in the government), and he smoothly reframes each of Le Pen’s criticisms against him.
Notice something important: every time Le Pen raises her voice, Macron doesn’t raise his. He goes in the opposite direction–lowering his voice into a mature, calm, almost parental tone.
It’s as if he is saying “Come on now, don’t be ridiculous. I know what’s really going on. Let’s not kid each other.”
He comes across as the adult in the room.
This is an absolutely brilliant strategy. Because every time Le Pen starts to increase the emotion and anger in the debate (which is right in line with her whole campaign and her whole persona for the last year), Macron undercuts it.
He understands, either implicitly or explicitly, that an emotional debate plays into his opponent’s hands. Whereas a calm, level-headed, rational debate on the facts works in his favor.
By deftly avoiding excess emotion, he masterfully reframes every exchange into a debate on the facts and data (as he sees them), in which Le Pen is weaker.
At 2:40, Le Pen raises her voice and speaks of Macron’s “friends that you drink with in La Rotonde [a Paris restaurant].” Rather than taking the bait, Macron lowers his voice, and simply says, in a tut-tutting tone, “Ms. Le Pen, the French people deserve better than this.” Le Pen can only muster a weak “They deserve the truth.” But the tone of the exchange has shifted in Macron’s favor. Le Pen burned herself out and could not take the accusation any further.
His coolness and maturity is disarming–even to Le Pen herself.
However, at the same time, he doesn’t sacrifice his passion and enthusiasm.
It’s a fine line that a political leader must walk–between emotion/ passion/ conviction and calmness/ steadiness/ clear vision.
Macron manages to strike this balance (at least relative to Le Pen). And he managed to beat her decisively in the election.