The upcoming French presidential election has featured surprising strength from the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen of the National Front Party. The political betting had been that Le Pen would make round two of the balloting and then get beat handily by centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron. But Reuters is reporting that Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far left candidate of the well named Left Party that has proposed a 100 percent tax on the wealthy, an easing of immigration laws, and the withdraw of France from NATO. Melenchon is only four points behind Macron, and some think he may pull ahead to join Le Pen in the second round of balloting.

The prospect of a contest between a French Donald Trump and a French Hugo Chavez is something that is both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. The markets are, to say the least, spooked. But the possibility points to something that is underlining French politics. The mainstream parties have failed the French people, beset by grinding high unemployment and an Islamic terror threat that no one seems to know how to combat. As history has shown, desperate voters will be motivated to turn to politicians whom under any other circumstance they would never consider.

The same phenomenon has been used to explain the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. However, the knock against President Trump has not been crazy policy – the ones he has enacted are mainstream conservative – but a number of rookie mistakes he has made that shows he is learning to be chief executive while on the job.

There is no guarantee that either Le Pen of Melenchon would “grow in office” in a similar manner.

The election of either candidate would complicate American foreign policy. Le Pen and Trump may be seen as some to be soul mates, but their views of their respective countries’ roles in the world may clash. Melenchon would be a disaster for France, with every possibility of turning the country into a European Venezuela.

A self-inflicted humanitarian catastrophe would not be the sort of thing that Europe needs to happen in the heart of the continent. Between the threat of Putin’s Russia and the terrorist threat, Europe needs all of her strength to survive.

It may have come to pass, therefore, that Marine Le Pen will become the moderate candidate – relatively speaking – in the second round of the French presidential election. The potential proves that anything is possible in the world of politics if one waits for it long enough.