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La Pauvre France

France has survived the first round of its obtuse presidential election system. Little Manny Macaroon and Marine Le Pen survived and France will have to choose between these two underwhelming specimens next month. Le Pen does not actually openly despise France and wish for it to be dissolved in an EU fantasy empire, but her economic manifesto is an absolute catastrophe. 1930s statism and protectionism failed then and they’d fare worse now. Even if she’s wrong about many things, and that her desire to withdraw from the eurozone and EU would be legally complicated to say the least, she is still motivated by a love for la France profonde. Little Manny Macaroon, the school boy who ran away with his French teacher, is favoured to win. He, naturally, has no clue about governance. However, he at least has a basic grasp of economics. He does, sadly, openly despise France having publicly denigrated it abroad. His idea of a foreign policy is the destruction of France as a sovereign state, being an even bigger euro-fanatic than Hollande. Neither candidate is what France needs. France needs strong and spirited leadership to end its drift — it needs someone who can read the mood outside Paris and Brussels. Neither, ultimately, does this. It seems as if Little Manny Macaroon is favoured to be the next president. He will have little support in parliament and his views on the EU and immigration are about as popular in France as a bad case of the clap. Should he, as he apparently intends to, emulate Blair and Obama France will be a year past its collapse in 2022.

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Categories: General
  1. April 25, 2017 at 6:33 am

    I don’t get it – if Macron is so out of touch on key issues (EU, Immigration), how come 60% are expected to vote for him on 7th May?

  2. April 25, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Janus: Macaroon is personally popular, but his policies are well out of touch. Le Pen is just as out of touch on many issues, but she lacks the media adoration and her party is still tainted by its toxic past. Some 65pc of French voters think that there are too many immigrants in France and most French hold negative views of the EU. That doesn’t, however, mean that they want to close their borders to everyone. The French dislike the EU, but they would rather the EU scale back its ambitions than withdraw from it entirely.

  3. April 25, 2017 at 8:57 am

    I doubt that the Frog Voter is more sophisticated than any other, so why would s/he vote for Macron? Grrumph.

  4. April 25, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Janus: Why did so many Britons vote for Bliar in 1997? Why did so many Yanks vote for Obama in 2008 and 2012? Why did Nicky Cleggover and the Limp Dims return a respectable number of MPs in 2010? They promised “hope and change”, to be a “breath of fresh air”. Macaroon is young, he hasn’t been involved with politics for all that long and he doesn’t carry Le Pen’s baggage. He only made it because Fillon was caught up in scandals. Fillon’s platform was actually closest to the French mood and, despite scandals and media contempt, he came in a close third.

  5. April 25, 2017 at 10:30 am

    OK, I see the syndrome. Stand back and watch the fun, eh?

  6. Boadicea
    April 25, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Christopher – do have this right? It seems to me that, generally, the French dislike what they see as ‘extreme right’ politics, and that most still (like so many Brits did) believe that the EU can be reformed from within to allow national sentiments to survive and thrive.

    It seems to me, and I’m well aware that I really don’t know that much about French politics or the French, that fear of right-wing politicians has rendered a large number of French voters temporarily deaf. How can they have ignored the fact that Macron said that France was nothing until it joined the EU? How can they ignore the fact that he is for ‘ever closer’ union with the EU?

    I have no doubt that Marine will fall at the last hurdle. But, I also have no doubt that that will not be the end of her political career.

  7. sheona
    April 25, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    We only returned from France last night, but most of the people I spoke to (or eavesdropped on) were very unhappy with the result. If Macron wins he will have to put up with “cohabitation” with whichever government is elected in June. This will tie his hands considerably, since he has no party behind him. Marine on the other hand does have have the Front National party and were she to win the next round, it would be interesting to see how many French people might decide to give her some legislative power, all the while insisting that they would never vote FN of course. Our host at a dinner party last week was very unhappy about the prospect of either Mélenchon or LePen inflicting their economic policies on the country. Fillon would have been the most sensible winner advocating policies that France badly needs, but he was scuppered by Hollande’s “cabinet noir” and its dirty tricks; they were originally designed to damage Sarkozy when Hollande still had the delusion that he could run again for president and that his main opponent would be Sarko.

    Boadicea, many French people say they dislike the far right but may still vote for them, without ever admitting it. Marine’s political career is far from over. Some reports say that the 2022 election is her real target.

    Christopher, I do like your “macaroon” analogy. Looks good on the outside but crumbles easily.

  8. April 25, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Janus: One wonders just how many are quietly testing the strength of lampposts, measuring rope and sharpening guillotine blades in France about now. I wonder if the Place de la Concorde is still available for certain forms of mass entertainment?

    Boadicea: The French are a complex people and France is a complex country. France is in some ways an incredibly liberal society. It was, after all, the country that perfected the concept of the absolute monarchy only to — quite literally — decapitate it. The French were also the first to establish universal rights and equality — at least on paper. France is very proud of that fact. Le FN came out of the merger of several factions. Some were Vichy officials, some were hyper-nationalists and some were French monarchists. The first two are highly problematic. The first actively worked with Hitler,often because they at least partially sympathised with him. The second group are adamantly opposed to the concept of the universality of French ideals — something that the French, by and large, are still very much proud of. France has hardly lived up to its ideals, but fundamentally opposing them does not win many supporters. France is one of the world’s two bastions of republicanism — the other being the United States. French monarchists oppose the very existence of modern France and are treated with the same suspicion — and mirth as American loyalists. Marine Le Pen has purged most of that old guard, but it will take years for the stench to clear.

    EU membership, for France, is a constitutional obligation. Changing this requires a change to the French constitution. There is no way that the French parliament would ever approve this, or the act needed to pose that question to the French people. The rejection of the EU constitution and Treaty of Maastricht by the French electorate proved that there are limits to what the French will accept. (There was massive voter fraud to ensure the passage of the Treaty of Maastricht. It was, arguably, one of the two most corrupt votes in post-war history, the other being the referendum on Italy becoming a republic. The Communists made sure that there would be enough fake ballots to see the scrapping of the monarchy through) Most French support a Europe of the Nations — what Fillon argued for. Most French support a degree of European integration, although not to the level that it has reached — and very few want a fully federal Europe. The French media downplay Macaroon’s anti-French positions. They focus on his charm, his “singular life” (Isn’t that term cringe-inducing and gag-worthy?), his “bold” new approach that blends elements of the left and the right. They fail to mention that this has been tried in Britain, Sweden and America with horrifying results.

    Le Pen has tacitly admitted that she knows that this isn’t her year. In fact, she couldn’t have wished for a better person to run against than Macaroon. Had someone from France’s political establishment survived the first round, growing popular contempt for their positions could be dismissed as an anti-establishment reaction. Macaroon most perfectly embodies the EU ethos and mentality. He will likely become president, of course. In doing so, he will utterly destroy whatever credibility the “European Project” has in France. He will utterly destroy France’s post-war, post-modern ideological framework. Le Pen will be waiting in the shadows with no real challenger left. She can then paint herself as a Jeanne d’Arc reborn.

  9. April 25, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Sheona: Quite right. Mélenchon and Le Pen’s economic plans are eerily similar. France has incredible economic strengths and potential, but its highly centralised, rigidly bureaucratic model is no longer fit for purpose — if it ever was. The euro has made it impossible for France to cushion associated costs with devaluation. Le Pen could not easily deliver on the currency issue and her economic platform would be fiscal suicide.

    Macaroon is unlikely to do as well as he’d like in the parliamentary elections. The risk that political outsiders have is that they cannot secure enough political support to govern as they’d like. Politicians are ultimately interested in their re-election, after all. I suspect that the French will vote the way the Portuguese so often do. Parliament might have a narrow left-wing majority, but a centre-right president prevents them from engaging in too much mischief. I could also imagine that Le FN and the Republicans will win enough seats to scuttle many of Macaroon’s more obtuse EU fantasies. Le FN out of principle, the Republicans out of political expedience.

    Macaroons look good from the outside, but they crumble easily and have very little substance.

  10. April 27, 2017 at 8:19 am

    And now Boy Macaroon, after getting upstaged by Le Pen, shows up at a factory threatened with closure in the wake of his shrewder rival. Le Pen spoke in a language that France’s dying working class can understand and appeared to show sympathy. Boy Macaroon insulted them and made it clear that he viewed them as incapable of anything.

  11. April 27, 2017 at 11:55 am

    He’s just a kid, living with his teacher, with all the life skills available in the financial sector.

  12. April 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm
  13. April 27, 2017 at 12:29 pm

  14. April 27, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Very apposite, eh?

  15. April 27, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Janus: In a country that’s had five republics and three monarchies since 1792. The Fifth Republic has been shaky for some time. This isn’t the time for a boy-bankster to pretend to be president.

    Jazz: Utterly brilliant!

  16. May 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

    M Macron told the Beeb today that he will improve the EU to avoid Frexit! Sounds like he thinks he has a problem.

  17. sheona
    May 1, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Janus, if Macron thinks he can “improve” the EU, then he definitely has a problem.

  18. May 1, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Janus: France, for all its hauteur, remains of of Europe’s greatest, most iconic countries. Some years ago I was on a Swiss International flight seated next to a brilliantly eccentric Parisienne of a certain age. According to her, the basic idea of the EU was brilliant — but she utterly despised the subjugation of France to the EU and Germany, both economically and psychologically. French presidents cannot continue to subsume France’s interests into the EU’s, and they cannot forever be seen kissing the Bundeskanzler(in)’s backside. French dignity is wounded, but it’s far from dead.

    Sheona: After multiple national rejections of its treaties, after the near-collapse of several member states due to its policies and in spite of the impending withdrawal of its second largest member state, the EU has finally decided on its future course after half a year of soul-searching. That is, they’ll simply keep doing what they have been doing under a different name. Sweden won’t adopt the euro? They can do so when they decide the time is right. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic won’t accept illegal migrants under an EU scheme? Well, they can get to it when they’re ready.

  19. May 1, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    It’s hard to believe that either right-leaning or other EU-sceptic Frogs will be reassured byt Macron’s idea. His interview seemed to reveal complacency, hardly a quality required of a new-wave politician.

  20. May 1, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Janus: Politics has its mortal sins,among the most deadly are complacency and insulting voters and/or their intelligence. Macaroon claims to be an outsider, but he spends most of his time in Paris’ inner arrondissements kissing the rings of political grandees, cultural elite and financiers. He could have managed to get away with this 15-20 years ago — just, but not now. There are too many smart phones and too many people taking pictures and videoing public officials for them to play innocent. Even by French standards Manny Macaroon is cynical. You forget another segment of French society — the traditional French left. They’re just as fed up with “politics as usual” as are the French right and eurosceptics — on the right and the left. Le Pen’s economic manifesto is rooted in 1950s socialism.

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