"Donald Trump won’t win," Michael Cohen wrote in the Guardian in 2016. He was arguing that, in the face of Trump's strategy of attacking and stigmatising foreigners and even some American citizens, Republicans would find it harder and harder to follow their candidate. Which, let's face it, would be a blow for American conservatism. A few months later, we all know how that turned out.
A few weeks before the Brexit referendum, Daily Mail columnist Dan Hodges was very clear on his country's future in the European Union: "The defining issue of British politics is no longer whether the Brexit camp can win, but how they choose to lose. More specifically, it’s whether they lose in an honourable and gallant way – or in a way that destroys them individually as politicians, tears the Conservative Party apart, and brings the governance of the United Kingdom to the brink of total collapse."
The evolution of modern politics has demonstrated time and again that the truth can be stranger than fiction... or our predictions. With that in mind, here's a series of alternative possible outcomes for the French presidential elections. Don't say we didn't warn you.
1) Le Pen wins (with some help from the left...)
Writing in Politico, Jacques Lafitte, the CEO and founder of Avisa Partners, put forward a series of logical arguments explaining why it would be difficult for the leader of the Front National to become the future president of France. But if there's one thing modern politics loves, it's being irrational - why vote with your head when you can vote with your gut? Which is why, in our first possible scenario, Marine Le Pen could take advantage of growing discontentment among the people.
Particularly that of Manuel Valls, who, at the eleventh hour, decides to throw his weight behind the ultraconsercative candidate. Shocked by his defeat against Benoît Hamon and offended by the success of Emmanuel Macron, 'Manu' could decide to go for broke in destroying the Socialist Party, and the quickest way to do that is through Le Pen. Once she takes office, one of Le Pen's first policies will be to expel everyone from the country except those whose parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are 'pure' French. Unfortunately this will also include Valls, who has a Spanish father and a Swiss mother.
2) François Fillon could win. No, really.
Etienne Dujardin has written in Le Figaro that hope is not lost for the Republicans. He argues that, unlike the extremism of Le Pen, Fillon's lukewarm discourse could still hit all the right notes with the moderate right: with security, innovation and support for small businesses being the main pillars of his agenda. However, the black clouds of corruption still hang over his chances.
Fillon's wife, Penelope, is being investigated for taking money for doing no work. But the key to politics is turning your weaknesses into strengths, and Fillon can still do just that - by offering the same kind of contract to everyone who votes for him. It's hard to argue against corruption when you're the one benefiting from it.
3) Martin Schulz and Emmanuel Macron save Europe (or make it worse).
Wolfgang Münchau, editor of the Financial Times, suggests that one candidate could have a huge impact not only in the French elections, but the upcoming elections in Germany as well. He writes about a policy of teamwork and integration. Certainly he doesn't expect a miracle: in fact, he admits there is every chance it could fail. But it's hard not to get carried away and imagine a future Europe looking like an episode of The Teletubbies: a joyous world of happiness and friendship. Big Hug!
We could all enjoy endless days of playing in the sunshine and eating mysterious pink goop. But the show could have an unhappy ending. Ultra-conservatives really don't care for the Teletubbies - in Poland, Ewa Sowińska of the League of Polish Families even called for an investigation into Tinky-Winky's sexuality. Could such a Europe give rise to further populism. That's certainly the view of writer Virgine Despentes, who argues that a Macron victory could make the right even stronger...
4) "I will be one of the surprises of the first round of elections."
These weren't the words of a political analyst, but one of the candidates. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who's seen a meteoric rise in the polls lately? No, it's none other than François Asselineu. A Eurosceptic and veteran of right-wing politics, he told La Voix du Nord that he believes he will surprise everyone with his performance in the first round of elections. The polls disagree.
But if Asselineu's "surprise" has nothing to do with the ballot, what will it be? Maybe he wants to go out with a bang and make sure everyone remembers him. Our guess? On 23 April, he'll show up to a polling station draped in a Russian flag. We'll leave you to decide how much he plans on wearing underneath, but he's already given us an idea of how big the flag will be.