18 April 2017

Political Panic in France

Fasten Your Seat Belts
The French Presidential elections were predicted to be pretty ordinary.

François Holland, being about as popular as proverbial turd in the punch bowl, decided not to stand for reelection, and did so fairly late in the process, which left the "Socialists" in a lurch, and so it was expected that the right wing Gaullists would field a candidate which would face a runoff against the racist-nativist National Front, (FN) which has made it to the runoff election with alarming regularity in French Presidential elections in the past few decades.

Unfortunately for the Gaullists, they nominated François Fillon, who in addition to being fairly far right by the standards of French politics turns out to have made a habit of employing his wife and children in no show jobs, for which he is under formal criminal investigation.

As a result,  Emmanuel Macron, a former Economic Minister under the Socialist government, who was instrumental in implementing the anti-worker Neoliberal reforms for Holland, effectively sealing the current President's political fate, and is running under what is best described as a self-founded vanity party,  En Marche !, (with the space before the "!") became the favorite for contesting the runoff against Marine Le Pen of the FN.

So far, it's pretty normal:  You've swapped one stooge of the banksters for another, and they are virtually assured of beating Le Pen in the runoff.

Then something funny happened:  A former Socialist who left the party because he felt that they had sold out their principles, Jean-Luc Mélenchon made a charge in the polls, and HE is closely associated with the movement known as the "Left Front" in Europe.

As you can see from the polling numbers, we now have all 4 of the candidates within the margin of error, and Mélenchon appears to significant momentum.

The prospect of having a Euroskeptic racist facing a Euroskeptic leftist facing each other in the Presidential runoff is freaking out the establishment throughout the EU:
A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

In the latest plot twist in France’s highly contentious presidential election, Mélenchon — an outspoken 65-year-old leftist who often appears on the campaign trail via hologram and who has pitched his proposal to nationalize France’s biggest banks and renegotiate its relationship with the European Union via free Internet games and YouTube videos — is now soaring in the polls. With less than two weeks before the election, his meteoric and unexpected rise is already sending jitters through financial markets and shock waves through an increasingly anxious electorate.

For months, analysts have likened the upcoming French election to “Europe’s Stalingrad,” a crucial turning point that will determine the future of a country and a continent. But while commentators worldwide have focused on the steady rise of the far-right, fiercely anti-immigrant National Front of Marine Le Pen, few have paid any attention to the leftist fringe of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has vaulted into the picture in the past week and who shares with Le Pen the desire to drastically alter France’s relationship with the E.U., the 28-state bloc it once designed.

Mélenchon is running as the candidate of the Unbowed France political movement, in an alliance with the French Communist Party. The latest polls show him narrowly trailing Emmanuel Macron, long seen as the favorite, and Le Pen, expected to qualify for the final round of the two-round vote but to lose to Macron in the end. In the final days of a truly unprecedented campaign, Mélenchon’s unexpected surge is a reminder that radical change is in the air and that its extremist apostles — on the right or the left — may soon hold power.

Some have reacted with panic: Investors have begun frantically selling off French bonds, while the head of France’s largest trade union has decried what he described as Mélenchon's “rather totalitarian vision.”


Perhaps more than any of the other candidates, it is Mélenchon who best represents 2017’s potential rupture with history, or at least the status quo. Central to his platform is the promise to abolish France’s Fifth Republic, the system of government established by Charles de Gaulle in 1958.

What Mélenchon detests in this style of government is its monarchical presidency — designed for de Gaulle himself — which can dissolve parliament at will and is subject to few checks and balances. Mélenchon has pledged to found what he calls the “Sixth Republic,” a vision that would “take us out of this presidential regime, notably with proportionality in all elections.”

It is an idea that resonates widely — even among those who do not necessarily support Mélenchon’s other more radical proposals, including taking France out of NATO and imposing a 100 percent tax on all income earned over 400,000 euros ($425,000).
Just how freaked out is the establishment?

They are so freaked out that the nominal front runner, Emmanuel Macron, has been forced to tell the truth about the EU and the Germans.

He is explicitly saying that Berlin is gaming the system as a predatory exporter:
Centrist French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron called for a “rebalancing” of Germany’s trade surplus in an interview with French and German media published Monday.

Even as he touted strong relationships with the German political leaders, Macron used the interview with Ouest-France newspaper and Germany’s Funke newspapers to call out German trade policy for hurting the Continent’s economy.

“Germany benefits from the imbalances within the eurozone and achieves very high trade surpluses,” he said. “Those aren’t a good thing either for Germany or for the economy of the eurozone. There should be a rebalancing.”

Macron, an independent, is facing fresh pressure from anti-EU candidates in the final week before the presidential election’s first-round vote. He has been running neck-and-neck with nationalist Marine Le Pen, ahead of three other candidates. However, recent polls suggest a surge for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who rails against Europe from the left.
This is true, of course, but it is also as close to heresy as you can get from the any EU supporter.

The conventional wisdom, of course, is to inflict austerity on the ordinary folk, and then wait for the confidence fairy to make growth magically appear, all while capital and finance f%$# the bottom 90% of society.

If it ends up a race between Le Pen and Mélenchon, I fully expect the powers that be to pull for Le Pen, because for them, racism is preferable to economic justice.


Stephen Montsaroff said...

Never thought of the CFDT as that pro-Banker.

Matthew Saroff said...

I would agree that the CFDT is not pro-bankster.

I would argue that they are too wedded to the status quo though: They would rather deal with a known entity, and Mélenchon is definitely not that.

I also like Mélenchon's proposals to reign in the powers of the French presidency.

Stephen Montsaroff said...

All of France is wedded to the status quo.

It would be amusing to see a return to the 4th Republic.

Matthew Saroff said...

OK, which one was the 4th Republic, and what distinguishes it from the 3rd and the 5th?

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