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Claude Paris / AP

With Emmanuel Macron's resounding victory in yesterday's French presidential election, it's easy to craft a narrative trumpeting the resilience of the grand European experiment and the death of European populism. But to do so would ignore a fundamental truth: Marine Le Pen might have lost, but her performance — capturing more than a third of the French electorate — was another step toward the normalization of far-right politics across both the continent and the West at large.

Here to stay: University of Georgia professor Cas Mudde, who has authored a number of works on populism and extremism in Europe, told Axios that the far right's well-established place in French politics, having played a part for the last 40 years, means Macron's presidency will only affect the National Front in the short-term:

"Macron is just a phase. If he does well, the slow but steady rise of the National Front will be stopped, for a while. If he does badly, it will increase a bit sharper."

Not a surprise: In her defeat, Le Pen nearly doubled the vote tally of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2002's presidential runoff — the National Front's only prior appearance in the presidential election's second round — and she did so in a way that felt not only normal but expected. When Jean-Marie advanced to the runoff, France reacted with an almost visceral shock that saw more than a million people take to the streets. This time, Marine's success in the first round had been a constant expectation in polls stretching back to 2013. Though she failed to enter the Élysée, Marine's greatest victory is the transformation of the National Front into a mainstream force in French politics.

The next test: June's parliamentary elections will set the tone for the future of the National Front, which Le Pen has vowed will see a "deep transformation" into a "new political force," maybe even with a new name. Right now, polls have the party winning somewhere around 15 to 25 seats in the National Assembly — up from its current two. If the National Front does not have a strong result, Mudde believes that Le Pen "will become more criticized within the party, but she is still too strong to be replaced."

Farther ahead: If the pressure does mount on Le Pen, there's buzz that her replacement could be her 27-year-old niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who was elected as an MP in 2012. Marion is even more hardline than her aunt, representing a move back toward the party's traditional far-right on religious and social issues. Steve Bannon called her a "rising star" and Sarah Palin gushingly named her a reminder of Joan of Arc, so perhaps Marion will attempt to lead the National Front to a coronation in 2022.

Go deeper

Updated 50 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
5 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
5 hours ago - Economy & Business

Ripple CEO: SEC lawsuit is "bad for crypto" in the U.S.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by U.S. regulators, it would put the country at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Between the lines: The SEC in December sued Ripple, and Garlinghouse personally, for allegedly selling over $1.3 billion in unregistered securities. Ripple's response is that its cryptocurrency, called XRP, didn't require registration because it's an asset rather than a security.

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