An American observer comments on French politics.
So, apparently , Macron first, Let's Pen second - likely reflecting personal preferences but pretty clear about the state of the race. Hamon dead last so his bet of aiming for a new, specific public (women in care work, part timers, farmers) didn't register. Or it's an unpolled public. I'm willing to bet Macron will come in first on April 23.
@ Anonymous,I don't doubt that you're right that Macron could win the first round. What I don't understand is why? Was the problem with Hollande's presidency really that his policies were wonderful but his personality obscured how he turned the French economy around and reconciled the conflict between globalization and the protection of the social welfare state? I don't understand Macron's appeal and I wish someone among his supporters here would offer an explanation
@MitchAs far as Hollande is concerned, the issue is that his presidency was systematically sabotaged from day 1 by the likes of Montebourg and Hamon, who ultimately succeeded in wrecking the first socialist presidency since Mitterrand. There are a great many of us, past or present members of the socialist party who do bear a grudge towards those who have managed to destroy the socialist party and will in the future reduce it to an ineffectual extreme left sect. Hollande's two mistakes were to confuse the timing of a septennat presidency with the timing of a quinquennat presidency, and the nationality affair, which he ultimately backed of. The frondeur's crime, on top of the above, is to have created the conditions for a further rise of the SozNat MLP during the past five years. That is what "imbeciles utiles" do.As far as Macron is concerned, he created his movement En Marche in the spring of 2016, once he became marginalized (prevented from writing the second part of his law) in the Valls government, and resigned to run for president once it became inevitable that Hollande could not run again. That is not treason, that is making a realistic assessment of the political situation and drawing the obvious conclusion.As far as Macron's policies are concerned, on economics we know that he plans to adress the single most problematic aspect of the French economy, namely that labour is overly taxed compared to capital. Thus he is preparing to deal with what we call the fiscal wedge in our jargon. Further, he authored the CICE which has gone a long way towards correcting the competitiveness disadvantage of the French economy compared to Germany which appeared after 2000 (and which had nothing to do with the euro, and everything to do with the Schröder reforms, continued under Merkel). On Europe, Macron is the only candidate supporting the full continuation of Europe, which is to a large extent a Mitterrand legacy. On society, we know (I don't need to into details) that he doesn't give a rat's ass about people's colour, cares about education,and will provide continued support to the fundamental principles of our republic. We also know that he can stop the SozNat MLP dead in her track. That do it for you?
I think Bernard gets it about right.
Bernard's always been admirably clear.If you think that Bourget was insincere, then Macron can plausibly be the continuation of Hollande by other means, without the encumbrance of the fronde, with better marketing, and with - who knows - the prospect of success. This frog could be a handsome prince.There is a cloud on the horizon, in the shape of Martin Schulz. Perhaps in conscious imitation Schulz won't be releasing a programme until well after France votes. But the two issues causing the buzz around his campaign, and just about the only things you hear about from excited SPD activists, are his criticisms of the Hartz reforms and his opposition to TTIP and CETA. Of shared budgets, fiscal integration, mutual debt obligations, enhanced macroeconomic coordination - both the practical proposals and the coded language of anti-austerity - you hear nothing.Central to Macron's agenda is his commitment to labour market reform. Of course it's a domestic French matter whether to embrace a Hartz model, and needn't be a source of friction with EU partners. As far as I can tell Macron has an unexceptional Davos commitment to free trade. Again, if there are frictions I'm sure they can be finessed.The unavoidable problem however is that he explains his unembarrassed embrace of the EU establishment by talking about eurozone institutional and policy innovations to be negotiated with Germany, which Germany is vanishingly unlikely to concede.When kissing frogs these kind of things need weighing carefully.With all that said, I don't want to overstate my disagreement with Bernard. He was right about Fillon staying in. The odds are better than even that he'll be right about the result in May.
Take a look. That's a hotlink to a graphic of today's encouraging PMI numbers for the eurozone. Hopefully the hotlink stays working, otherwise Markit is the place to go. The French national numbers are good too. It makes Bernard's grit-our-teeth-and-get-through-it approach rank higher, in the list of unappealing options we're stuck with.But wait, what's this? An exciting new proposal for eurozone integration? What fresh joy can this be? Schäuble: ”... tighter central control of the eurozone by creating a European Monetary Fund with the capacity to monitor support programmes ...”It doesn't work, you say? Look at Ireland! Granted, they have to carry round a cushion with a hole in it if they ever want to sit down, but they have growth! In those regrettable cases where there is no growth moral feebleness is the only possible explanation. More medicine is the answer, and anyone complaining of painful bond spreads will be expected to swallow it in supervised doses.
Bernard,It seems to me that you and Art have consistently and quite studiously ignored a significant part of Hollande's initial appeal to the French people, namely, that he would fight against austerity, fight to protect the social welfare state and that he would ensure that any the cost and benefits of "reforms" would be shared equally with the workers and the middle class. But he made no effort even to fight the good fight and immediately came out of the closet as a centrist who'd never even for a day believed in the platform on which he campaigned. Hollande's economic and social message on Europe is extremely unpopular and is likely to remain so no matter how Macron dressed it up. Now, it may well be that the political class may stave off extreme right in this election by circling the wagons around Macron and hoping that Le Pen's white ethnonationalist and fascist baggage is so repellent that they will reluctantly support the centrist who offers them absolutely no real hope to anyone except those who are comfortable and secure in their futures. But it seems to me this is, at best, a stopgap measure. You might be able to defeat her today without addressing the fundamental issues that have propelled her into the mainstream but it's guaranteed that by kicking the can down the road, you're only making things worse. Macron today practically guarantees Le Pen tomorrow. And that's if you're very, very lucky. The coalescence of the political class and especially of the PS's elephants will certainly doom Hamon but I'm guessing that once Le Pen gets into the second round and starts attacking Macron seriously, the support of all these mucky mucks will quickly become an albatross around his neck. I believe Macron is the second weakest candidate in the second round (preferable only to "Honest Fillon"). Macron may have all the big shots marching with him but I don't thing they bring as much to the party as you and Art seem to suppose.
This post is toward the bottom of the front page, Mitch, but on the off-chance you'll see this comment, have a look here at an interesting op-ed in today's NYTimes.Early exposure to the Economist has warped my world view, so there are parts of it I don't like. Other parts I like, however. And they're the reason why I look at Macron and see feet of clay.(The Alan Johnson who wrote it is different from the Alan Johnson who headed up Labour's Remain campaign, needless to say.)
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