Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hillary elected president of France

In US equivalents the French presidential election could be viewed as Hillary winning, Trump losing with Romney, Kucinich and Sanders already on the sidelines.

It is a good thing that Le Pen has lost. It would have been a better thing if she had lost by more votes. When her father brought their ultra-right National Front to the final presidential run off the first and only other time in 2002, he only got 20% of the vote against President Jacques Chirac.
Marine Le Pen had 35% this time. When one third of French voters cast their ballots for a neo fascist it is hardly good news. The only good news is that there wasn’t a Trump-like or Brexit-like election surprise. In fact, her final vote was a little bit less than predicted.

A president Le Pen would have made President Trump seem moderate and multi-cultural.
After the first round vote, the French public was left with the poor choice of an inexperienced liberal with views akin to Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, including their dedication to Wall Street and throwing military power around in imperial style or a Neo Fascist who put a new face on an old ultra-right wing movement that she inherited from her father.

Those who voted for the new left represented by Mélenchon felt that they had no choice but to vote for the Liberal against the Fascist and some of them felt it was better to spoil their ballots, abstain or not vote at all. Mélenchon is sort of the French Sanders if Bernie was really a socialist.

The arguments in the French press looked a lot like the ones in our press calculating that Hillary was a lesser evil than Trump. Sometimes the difference was more than we faced in the US and at times it was less.

The French Democrats and Republicans had less trouble voting for Macron, which says a lot more about the former “Socialist” finance minister than it does about the French right. 

The analogy with US politics ends right about there. In France the ultra-right is an established movement that has functioned and won local elections for many years. Same can be said for the new left, who come from the Eurocommunist and Trotskyist traditions.

All five of the loosing groups are traditional movements and all of them are represented in their equivalent of congress, the National Assembly, along with some local mayors, town councilors, regional governments and any number of other local government elected posts...

The current legislature is dominated by the Socialists who saw the biggest drop in support in this presidential election.

The big losers were the Republicans, Democrats and Socialists who had won every presidential election since their current constitution was approved (The Fifth Republic) as none of them made the final cut.

The new president does not have a political party yet. His movement was just put together in this last period and does not hold a single seat in either house of the French legislature.

Fewer French people voted in this second round of their presidential election reaching an historic 50 year high of 25% nonvoters. The rate of US eligible voters who do not participate is normally double France's all time worst. So maybe there is one other parallel between their election and ours in the fact that the final two candidates were both extremely unpopular. But remember that the French participate in their elections in much higher numbers than we do and have more accurate polls.

Note that in France they have a direct popular vote with a runoff. If we had that system in the US, Hillary Clinton would have just finished her first hundred days.

For the US, this election means that France will remain France in Europe, France helping with NATO, France as the Wall Street of the European Union. In many ways, it means status quo with some slight movement towards an economic policy in sync with what our government has been asking for.

For Europe it means that Brexit is over. There will be no French part two, the Frexit, and Europe will now look forward to some stability and more French leadership.

Germany’s elections later this year will reelect the center right there and confirm Germany as France’s main partner and the European Union will move forward with its founding Franco-German core united, intact and stable.

Macron’s election also means that the power struggle between those who advocate spending and growth and the pro austerity factions led by Merkel's Germany will continue to tilt in favor of public spending cuts. The new French president says he will be Merkel's partner advocating austerity budgets.

For France we can expect some “reforms” along the lines of more space for the private sector to dump employees and more free trade, tax cuts and deregulation as incentives for investors.

Don’t expect French society to suddenly turn away from the increasing anti-Muslim, anti-foreign sentiments or the hardening of their migration laws. The security measures imposed after the terrorist attacks in Paris will stay in place. French military participation on the US side in Syria, Afghanistan, Mali, Chad, Libya and many other countries will continue and France will continue to spend on its armed forces along NATO guidelines.

If any of this leads to a higher quality of life or lower rate of unemployment among the common French working people, it would be a surprise.

The next big step for France politically will be the legislative elections later this year. That will decide who holds the very powerful post of Prime Minister, which is a major part of the French version of checks and balances.

The only hint we have now to guess how this upcoming parliamentary election might turn out, would be to look at how the parties fared in the first round of the presidential elections this year. In that poll, no group got as much as a quarter of the vote. Six political movements were within ten points of each other. The same two round system will be used. Only a few points will decide who makes it to the second round. We should expect all the current groups to get some seats, probably not in proportion to the popular vote.

The new President Macron might well try to form a coalition government with center left and center right deputies, if there are enough of them.

The time for a proportional representation system in the French National Assembly may have arrived as their traditional left-right polarization has become less relevant.

Whatever the final result, this presidential election and the upcoming legislative election could define the French government for about the next five years.

But with a new president that has no political party and the traditional parties in so much trouble, any prediction now would have a high chance of error.

That the majority would vote against the fascist was the easy part, and it should have been easier.

The part of France that is not neo fascist is changing and will continue to do so. France is still in business as before, but it is not business as usual. 

No comments:

Post a Comment