Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Dissecting the French election results


Eight Reasons Why Emmanuel Macron May Soon Regret His Victory


8 May, 2017

The confetti were still littering Paris from Macron's celebration event on Sunday night when the 39-year-old Frenchman became the youngest president in French history, and already he met with one of the biggest challenges facing his new administration: a population, mostly among the local labor unions, that is unwilling to accept any if not all of the proposed economic reforms, and made this abundantly clear on Monday by clashing in violent protests across Paris with the local riot police.

That's not the only reason why Emmanuel Macron may find the hangover of his bitter fight with Marine Le Pen unpleasant. As The Local writes, while Macron's supporters were jumping for joy at the Louvre and commentators all over the world were hailing Emmanuel Macron's victory as a triumph for liberal and centrist values, a majority of French people won't have seen it as a cause for celebration. 

And although Macron should be relieved, there are a few major reasons why he should stay off the Champagne this week.

Below, according to the French publication, are eight reasons why Macron has little reason for celebration as he prepares to replace Francois Hollande as the next French president.

1. He didn't win over the majority of French people

In the second round, 56 percent of French people either abstained, cast a blank vote or voted for Le Pen. He may have won a majority of the vote, but that doesn't make for a majority of French people.  Even in first round vote, when French people "vote with their hearts" and choose the candidate they really want, Macron didn't do spectacularly.

On April 23rd some 8.6 million people voted for Macron, out of a possible 47 million, so in reality, you could argue that only a 6th of French voters would have Macron as their first choice. But even in the first round he benefited from tactical voting.

2. Many of those who voted for him aren't really behind him

Of those who did vote for him, many said were doing so simply because he wasn't Marine Le Pen. Some 33 percent of respondents in an Ipsos poll said they voted Macron because they were won over by the political renewal they saw in him. 

Sixteen percent put his policies top of the list, while 8 percent said his personality was the main reason they voted for him.

However the largest chunk, 43 percent, said they were mostly voting against Le Pen. 


3. Le Pen is on the move too

The far right scored a record number of votes in the first round (7.6 million) and then went and did it again in the second round, topping the 10 million mark (10.6 million to be precise). The far right are on an upward trajectory and Le Pen is hinting at a new rebranding and strategy in her post-results speech.  To be fair to Macron he recognized this fact in his victory speech and vowed do everything to stop people voting for extremes. Easier said  than done in a divided France suffering from unemployment.


4. En Marche! will have a hard time getting a majority

Macron will face a host of difficulties trying to gain a majority of seats in the parliamentary elections with such a newly created party. Without that he'll have a hard time passing the laws he wants.  The Republicans are gearing up to try and gain a majority in parliament, in which case Macron would be reduced to not much more than a figurehead of France's government. 

Even if En Marche! ends up the leading party, finding another group to ally with to pass reforms will be a tough task. Macron's MP's will face four clear blocks of opposition from Jean-Luc Melenchon's 'Unbowed' to whatever is left of the Socialist Party come June, to the Republicans and Marine Le Pen's far right National Front.

That's unprecedented in French politics. And on top of that, En Marche is under-financed and unlike the long established parties, it doesn't have a long-standing coffer to dip into.
 
5. Parts of the country rejected him 

Le Pen's strongholds in the north east held firm, gaining 57.42 percent of the vote in Calais and 61 percent in Hénin-Beaumont. In the Aisne department, Le Pen came out on top in 619 out of 804 communes.  Le Pen scored well on France's Mediterranean coast in the south east, getting close to 50 percent in many departments, like the Var, where she gained 49 percent. 


6. He could be doomed to follow in Francois Hollande's footsteps

Macron has a lot on his shoulders, knowing that if he fails to get results on issues like unemployment during his five years he could see the same fate as Hollande, who was so unpopular in France he became the first French president not stand for a second term. Many French people already see too much of a similarity between Macron and his predecessor. Le Pen dubbed him "Hollande's baby" or "Hollande's her".

Fail to deal with unemployment and he will end up having more in common with his predecessor than he would have wished.



7. Unions are already on his back

Worker's unions in France aren't about to let Macron forget the huge opposition against him, despite the win. Already there have been protests, with a demonstration against the election held at la Republique in Paris on Monday organised by Front Sociale, a collective of worker's unions and associations.
The CGT's Michael Wamen said: “He is no an elected president, he is like a president-CEO.” 

If Macron wants to reform labour laws - and he said he will do by decree - then he can expect more uprisings in the months and years to come.


8. His to do list

Has an incoming president ever had so much on his to-do list from day one? Macron must try to reconcile the country, cut unemployment, restore faith in Europe, even reform the EU, boost the economy, deal with the terror threat and dangerous jihadists returning from the Middle East, find a way for France to be ease with Islam and immigration, help forge a new identity for the country so it feels at ease with its place in the world

In other words make France feel great again.

Yikes, Bonne Chance Manu!

RT coverage



Emmanuel Clinton and the Revolt of the Elites
By Pepe Escobar



May 08, 2017 "Information Clearing House" -   So in the end the West was saved by the election of Emmanuel Macron as President of France: relief in Brussels, a buoyant eurozone, rallies in Asian markets.

That was always a no-brainer. After all, Macron was endorsed by the EU, Goddess of the Market, and Barack Obama. And he was fully backed by the French ruling class.

This was a referendum on the EU – and the EU, in its current set-up, won.
Cyberwar had to be part of the picture. No one knows where the MacronLeaks came from – a last minute, massive online dump of Macron campaign hacked emails. WikiLeaks certified the documents it had time to review as legitimate.

That did not stop the Macron galaxy from immediately blaming it on Russia. Le Monde, a once-great paper now owned by three influential Macron backers, faithfully mirrored his campaign’s denunciation of RT and Sputnik, information technology attacks and, in general, the interference of Russia in the elections.

The Macron Russophobia in the French media-sphere also happens to include Liberation, once the paper of Jean-Paul Sartre. Edouard de Rothschild, the previous head of Rothschild & Cie Banque, bought a 37% controlling stake in the paper in 2005. Three years later, an unknown Emmanuel Macron started to rise in the mergers and acquisitions department, soon acquiring a reputation as “the Mozart of finance.”

After a brief stint at the Ministry of Finance, a movement, En Marche! was set up for him by a network of powerful players and think tanks. Now, the presidency. Welcome to the revolving door, Moet & Chandon-style.

See you on the barricades, babe

In the last TV face-off with Marine Le Pen, Macron did not shy from displaying condescending/rude streaks and even raked some extra percentage points by hammering “Marine” as a misinformed, corrupt, “hate-filled” nationalist liar who “feeds off France’s misery” and would precipitate “civil war.”

That may in fact come back to haunt him. Macron is bound to be a carrier of France’s internal devaluation; a champion of wage “rigor,” whose counterpoint will be a boom of under-employment; and a champion of increasing precariousness on the road to boost competitiveness


Big Business lauds his idea of cutting corporate tax from 33% to 25% (the European average). But overall, what Macron has sold is a recipe for a “see you on the barricades” scenario: severe cuts in health spending, unemployment benefits and local government budgets; at least 120,000 layoffs from the public sector; and abrogation of some key workers’ rights. He wants to advance the “reform” of the French work code – opposed by 67% of French voters – ruling by decree.

On Europe, the only thing “Marine” said during the campaign that was closer to the truth was that “France will be led by a woman, either me or Mrs Merkel.”
Macron is more likely to be the new Tony Blair or, in a more disastrous vein, the new [former Italian PM Matteo] Renzi.

The real game starts now. Only 4 in 10 voters backed him. Abstention reached 25% – about one-third if spoilt ballots are counted. It will be virtually impossible for Macron to come up with a parliamentary majority in the upcoming elections.
France is now viciously divided into five blocks – with very little uniting them: 

Macron’s En Marche! movement; Marine Le Pen’s National Front, which will be recomposed and expanded; Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Disobedient France, which is bound to lead a New Left; the shattered Republicans, or the traditional French Right, which badly needs a new leader after the François Fillon debacle; and the virtually destroyed Socialists post-Hollande.

An Orwellian shock of the new

Contrary to global perceptions, the biggest issue in this election was not immigration, it was actually deep resentment towards the French deep state (police, justice, administration) – perceived as oppressive, corrupt and even violent.

Even before the vote, the always sharp and delightfully provocative philosopher Michel Onfray, author of Decadence, the best book of the year and founder of the Popular University of Caen, identified some of the main players behind the Macron bandwagon: the “bellicose” philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy; Le Monde’s Pierre Bergé; Jacques Attali – who almost single-handedly turned the Soclalists into hardcore neoliberals; eminence grise Alain Minc; former MSF head Bernard Kouchner; and former May 1968 stalwart Daniel Cohn-Bendit – “In other words, the feral promoters of a liberal policy that allowed Marine Le Pen to hit her highest score ever.”

All of the above are faithful servants of the French deep state. I have outlined in Asia Times how the Macron hologram was manufactured. But to see how the deep state managed to sell him, it’s essential to refer to philosopher Jean-Claude Michea, a disciple of George Orwell and Christopher Lasch, and author of the recently published Notre Ennemi, Le Capital.

Michea studies in detail how the Left has adopted all the values of what Karl Popper dubbed “open society.” And how media spin doctors molded the term “populism” to stigmatize the contemporary form of Absolute Evil. Marine Le Pen was ostracized as “populist” – while media propaganda always refused to note that National Front voters (now 11 million) come from the “popular classes.”

Michea emphasizes the original, historical meaning of “populism” in Czarist Russia; a current within the socialist movement – much admired by Marx and Engels – according to which peasants, artisans and small entrepreneurs would have their place of honor in a developed socialist economy. During May 1968 in France nobody would have thought that populism could be equated with fascism. That only happened in the beginning of the 1980s – as part of the new Orwellian language of neoliberalism.

Michea also notes that now it’s much easier to be a Left neoliberal than a Right neoliberal; in France, these Left neoliberals belong to the very closed circuit of the “Young Leaders” adopted by the French American Foundation. French Big Business and high finance – essentially, the French ruling class – immediately understood that an Old Catholic Right candidate like François Fillon would never fly; they needed a new brand for the same bottle.

Hence Macron: a brilliant repackaging sold as change France can believe in, as in a relatively soft approach to the “reforms” essential to the survival of the neoliberal project.

What French voters have – sort of – endorsed is the unity of neoliberal economy and cultural liberalism. Call it, like Michea, “integrated liberalism.” Or, with all the Orwellian overtones, “post-democratic capitalism.”A true revolt of the elites. And “peasants” buy it willingly. Let them eat overpriced croissants. Once again, France is leading the West.

This article was first published by Asia Times

Here is coverage from Luke Rudkowskiof WeAreChange

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