The elections in France are probably a new French way of running its own government and will certainly give us a new French roll in world affairs, starting with European affairs.
This Sunday’s second round of national legislative voting stands out for:
- Record numbers of citizens who didn’t vote.
- A new party taking the absolute majority.
- More women in the assembly than ever before.
- The exit of most of the French old guard political class from the game.
The Fifth Repulic constitution assumed a three or maybe four party country that would choose between the left and right in runoff elections.
That broke down with the rise of the ultra right National Front as a major force causing France to vote democracy vs neofascist in the runoff for Chriaq’s second term partly because then there were five and partly because the splintered left could not make the runoff despite getting the majority of the votes.
It broke down again this election with the addition of yet another major group made this election cycle start a six way first round for president, leading to a runoff between the new center movement and the new neofascist leader. Again the left was divided and could not make the runoff despite again collectively having the largest number of first round votes.
At the first round the of legislative elections, the new center, En Marche, made runoff in the overwhelming majority of districts with a third of the votes of those who voted.
So who the hell is En Marche and didn’t France already have a liberal party?
From a policy point of view, En Marche is capitalist liberalism with a new image, one more akin to Trudeau in Canada. The new deputies that form the En March majority come from a pool of people who are mostly younger, have backgrounds from outside of traditional politics and were half women. This election I have been following a twenty something farm owner who ran successful in what was once a traditional Socialist district.
Yes there was already a Democrat party with similar liberal views in step with the US Democrats and the Canadian Liberals and they have done well in this election too as allies of En Marche. This is a movement that once elected presidents, but now is second fiddle to En Marche.
But no, this has not been the year of the incumbent or the old faces. France has had more variety and choice in government than we in the US are ever offered and because of this, both the left and right have had time to govern and time to dissapoint.
The last government has been voted nearly out of existence. The Socialists came in behind the Eurocommunist wing in the first round of the presidential vote. In the new legistlature the party that had the majority and the held the presidency has gone to obscurity in 2017.
In the presidential primaries, President Holland made history by not even trying to go for a second term, the prime minister resigned to run in his place and was beaten by a more left leaning candidate only to find themselves fifth in the six way first round.
The Repubicans usually governed France with the Socialists as their opposition and twice the Socialists were the alternative government with a Republican opposition. They are the group usually called Galulists. This historical party of power took a similar beating at the presidentials. Their former president, Sarkozy, was beaten at the primaries to be replaced by a Mr. Clean of the right wing of their movement who played the anti immigrant card in competition with the neofascist National Front. That weak candidate turned out to also have a nepotism habit. They came in fourth in the presidential, and did better in the legislature becoming the key opposition.
The liberal Marcron and his En March movement took two thirds of the votes in the presidential finals, which sounds great until one thinks that a third of France voted for a women who represented barley masked racist, chauvinist and intolerant Catholic values.
The En March third of the national legistlature vote and Macron’s first place showing in the presidential first round is probably a better indication of their significant core support, with the rounding up to majorities representing French voters having to choose between what they were offered after the group that represented them got knocked out of the running.
But be clear, the dissapointment with politicians in France includes a dissapointment with politics itself. Having seen both the Republicans and the Socialists fail to deliver jobs, development, and better conditions many of the French have turned to En Marche, but many others have just plain turned their backs.
The French measure voter abstention based on POTENTIAL VOTERS, not registered voters as our press loves to do. By that measure, half the people did not vote, which in France is unheard of. The first round the of the legislative election had France's second highest abstention rate and this round makes the new record. Note that this new French record low is a bit higher than our normal US election participation rate.
So now we have it. A new president with a new National Assembly working together will be the French government for the next five years. What should we expect?
- Liberal “reforms” starting with employment guarantees.
- Strong pro European Union policies, including support for Merkel's austerity (service cutbacks).
- An Obama like interventionist military posture that will continue to intervene in North Africa, the Middel East and continue to be hostile to Russia.
- We should also expect some serious changes and reforms, some of which will be of value to everyone but most of which will be of value to the new generations of capitalists.
And PR, expect lots of PR. We will get the new look, constantly being told how young they are, how innovative they are and how inclusive, especially female, they are.
Expect New France to have economic policies and military posture that would make Ronald Reagan smile while the public show will make them look like the republic of cool, hipster, business people.