Friday, February 24, 2017

Macron Details Economic Plan; Hamon and Mélenchon to Meet

In the wake of the "alliance" between Macron and Bayrou, the former today released details of his economic plan. Economists for the most part greeted the plan enthusiastically, but perhaps the most eloquent reaction came from the Financial Times: "Mr Macron’s economic measures do not herald a big break from policies he inspired and helped implement as economy minister under Socialist president François Hollande."

Indeed, Macron promises to maintain tight control over the budget but will increase public investment nevertheless. How will he accomplish this miracle of fishes and loaves? In the time-honored manner: by promising to "negotiate a eurozone budget and EU-wide investment programme with Germany." There is perhaps a somewhat greater likelihood of success in this direction than there was when Hollande tried the same tack in 2012. The German surplus has grown larger in the meantime, and Macron will try to persuade the Germans that this is unsustainable, as many across the Rhine actually recognize, even if they are reluctant to say so. If Martin Schulz should come to power in Germany, Macron might have a decent shot at success. But "the German question" remains the major uncertainty in Macron's program as in the future of Europe. On the other hand, Macron's program, for all its dependence on the German imponderable, is more likely to succeed, in my view, than the programs of any of his rivals, both for reviving the French economy and for giving Europe a new lease on life.

Meanwhile, the Greens are out of the race, Jadot having thrown in his lot with Hamon, who, thus fortified, has agreed to meet with Mélenchon. Fierce noises continue to emanate from the Mélenchon corner, but it's not out of the question that Mélenchon will knuckle under to reality and opt for an "alliance" with the Socialist Devil. If it comes to pass, such an alliance would undoubtedly be a less tranquil affair than the Cartel of the Centers represented by Macron and Bayrou.

My blogging confrère Arun Kapil, whose instincts are usually right about these things, rates the chance of a Mélenchon capitulation to realism as infinitesimal. I'll hedge a bit, however, and say I think there's a small chance (the difference between "small" and "infinitesimal" is left as an exercise for the reader to work out), especially if the weekend polls show a sharp uptick for Macron.

As Arun points out, Mélenchon's real goal is to destroy the hated Socialist Party, and that is more or a less done deal with Hamon as the candidate of total rejection of the Hollande bilan. Mélenchon is still blustering about the need to repudiate all the deputies and ministers who abetted the depredations of the pedal boat captain, but in the end the main thing he cares about is ensuring a platform for himself.

If he becomes Hamon's Passionaria, he could go on speechifying to even larger crowds and plunge the entire presidential race into real chaos by threatening to upend Macron and make plausible the prospect of an extreme right vs. extreme left second round. If he really wants to flanquer la trouille à la classse politique, that's his best shot right there.

You heard it here first.


bert said...

As your FT quote suggests, this is additional evidence for Macron as the candidate of more-of-the-same. The idea of moving Germany away from ordoliberalism towards a more executive model of eurozone governance has been French thinking since before Hollande. Sarkozy's '08 Council Presidency pushed it hard, to absolutely zero effect.

You summarise the situation well, it seems to me, and you pinpoint the one new factor in the equation: Martin Schulz. He's currently enjoying a honeymoon, and can expect focussed attacks aiming to burst his bubble. Since he is now a national politician, his previous statements as a leading MEP can be expected to undergo a bit of revision. The election is near and his audience is the German electorate, whose antipathy to a 'transfer union' is as far as I can tell a reliably fixed point in a fluid political scene. My sense of the German economic debate is that they worry about inflation (when do they not?), they are keen to face down the IMF on the issue of Greek debt relief, and see the main priority of the next few years as the steady winding down of QE at the ECB. There is no appetite whatsoever to bankroll an enarque-led Keynesian reflation, and a settled determination to block the creation of institutions that would serve as the basis for such a programme.

If people actually want change in EU economic governance, MLP is a far surer way to bring it about. The change may eventually involve fighting for a chunk of roasted rat around a bin fire. But as the campaign song has it, you can't always get what you want.

bernard said...

The proof of the existence of the paleo trotskyst is the presidential run. There is thus no way that he would bow out of the race and accept death. It's as simple as that.

FrédéricLN said...

ok, I would not think that "Mélenchon's real goal is to destroy the hated Socialist Party", he is an almost-all-life Socialist after all. And not a radical one (a classic Mitterrand follower as fas as I understand). I understand his goal is to kill the "neo-liberal" TINA doxa, to open another route.

Benoît Hamon was a Rocardian after all, and had a very centrist (and effective) record as Minister. To have been a "frondeur" does not qualify for game-changer, at least in Mélenchon's eyes.

Mir Mohammad Ali Khan said...

Nice to read it !

Mir Mohammad Ali Khan