I had lunch in a Parisian cafe recently with a journalist who had spent the whole French presidential campaign vilifying the leftwing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and trumpeting the merits of the centrist Emmanuel Macron in the columns of a respected (if declining) centre-left weekly.
I asked him if had there been a deliberate effort among intellectuals and mainstream politicians to engineer a run-off between Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election. “Why, of course,” he laughed. “We’ve been at it for a year.” Considering how obvious the strategy had been, I cannot claim to have revealed much of a secret. Still, it’s nice to know I was not being paranoid.