Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hamon's Brain Trust

I keep reading about how Benoît Hamon has brought the intellectuals back into politics, but somehow it's always the same intellectuals: Dominique Méda, Julia Cagé, Thomas Piketty, etc. I know a few others whom Hamon tried to recruit but who declined. I know a larger number who are supporting Macron. Hamon is said to be innovative while Macron is dismissed as a "populist" of the center:

« Hamon est plus ancien en politique, mais il innove. Macron incarne une soi-disant modernité, mais s’appuie en réalité sur les sondages pour dire aux Français ce qu’ils veulent entendre, c’est une forme de populisme », estime ainsi Romain Slitine.
But in fact Macron also has a brain trust: Philippe Aghion, Pierre Rosanvallon, Terra Nova, l'Institut Montaigne, etc. Hamon's people are younger and lefter, drawn to the Sanders/Corbyn/Podemos model.

Une fois sorti du gouvernement, Benoît Hamon est resté connecté à cette sphère des idées, tout comme il a suivi les campagnes de Podemos en Espagne ou de Bernie Sanders aux Etats-Unis.
It's a different generation behind Hamon, still feeling its rebellious oats but not planning to stick around after the election:
« Le PS, je m’en fous, prévient d’emblée Piketty. Moi, je suis là pour parler directement avec Hamon et son équipe, pas avec les courants et les sous courants du parti ».
Many in the younger generation see Macron vs. Le Pen as Clinton vs. Trump: the centrist, they think, will always lose to the extremist demagogue. It takes something more radical on the left to fight the radical right. I nevertheless stuck with the center in the US race, even disagreeing with my own son, and lost. Nevertheless, I still think the center can hold and have my doubts, my sincere and serious doubts, about the left alternative. The examples of Corbyn and Podemos are not exactly inspiring, nor are the polls for Hamon. But I admit I may once again be overestimating the strength of the center. On the other hand, yesterday's results in the Netherlands show that it's also possible to overstate the strength of the xenophobic right.


c.i.b. said...

Thanks Art! The Netherlands shows also shows that the Sanders red-green parties scored a lot better than the Clinton option.Together, they scored more than Wilders.Indeed, The big winner of Wednesday’s election – and now the largest party of the Dutch left for the first time – was GreenLeft. A kind of greener Podemos. Perhaps the left potential in European societies is not sufficiently explored.

Bernard said...

I would be careful in drawing any general conclusion from the Dutch election. Their electoral system has generated the birth of a constant stream of nutty parties ever since the 1960s, led by nutty personalities. Some survived over time, even went mainstream, some vanished overnight. Just look at the number of parties who competed in this election.

Hobbesessed said...

Not sure how many if any care about Dutch politics here but since it came up a little evalation of the results:

If (big if, obviously) we take CDA, VVD, PVV, CU, SGP and FvD as 'right' parties, PvdA, GL, Denk, SP, and PvdD as 'left' parties, and D66 and 50+ as 'centre' parties then the seat change is as follows between 2012 and 2017: Left loses 23% (59 -> 45), Centre gains 64% 14 -> 23), Right gains only 6% (77 -> 82). This classification would put right parties at a decent majority (82/15) although it would not be a governing majority since many have decided to exclude a government with the PVV and, though the shift is to the centre, the left still almost doubles it in size.

If (bigger if) though we subdivide again into Left (SP, GL, PvdD), Centre left (PvdA, DENK), Centre (D66, 50+), Centre right (CU, CDA) and Right (VVD, PVV, SGP, FvD) you get the following seat and percentage change: Left gains 57% (21 -> 33), CL loses 68% (38 -> 12), Centre gains 64% (14 -> 23), CR gains 33% (18 -> 24) and Right loses 2% (59 -> 58). This shows in contrast a hollowing out of the centre-left towards both the left and the centre, though the seat gains in the centre and the left collectively don't fully make up for the lost seats in the centre-left (21 v. 26).

If we use my above classification, and assign two 'left points' to the L parties per seat, one to the CL parties, keep the centre neutral, assign one 'right point' to CR parties and two to R parties we see an overall shift from a right parliament in 2012 of '56 strength' on the metric I just made up (59*2+18*1=136 right points - 21*2+38*1=80 left points -> 136R-80L = 56R), to one of '62 strength' (58*2+24*1=140 rights points - 33*2+12*1=78 left points = 62R), a shift of almost 11% to the right.

If on the other hand you categorize the centre broadly on a UMPS mentality (include also PvdA, DENK, CU and CDA which were above centre-left and centre-right respectively) then the election shows a shift to the LEFT since the GL + PvdD's - SP cumulitive seat win (12) is bigger than the PVV + FvD - VVD cumulative seat change (-2). The total left seats on this analysis is only 33 versus 59 in the centre and 58 on the right but the above shift may explain why some lefties are happy, particularly those who think that Dutch labour (PvdA) is not a 'real' left party.

Results are here:

CDA = Christian Democrats
VVD = Liberals
PVV = Wilders' Freedom Party
CU = Christian Union
SGP = Calvinists
FvD = Eurosceptic Forum for Democracy
PvdA = Labour
GL = Green Left
Denk = Pro-immigrant labour split
SP = Socialists (more left than French PS, even undr Hamon)
PvdD = Animal rights party
D66 = Progressive liberal party
50+ = Party for pension reform

Cynthia McDonnell said...

Because I will never stop saying it... in the French election, Clinton would have won. (ie, she won the popular vote which is all you need to win in the French election.) So, with regards to your disagreeement with your son, maybe you weren't wrong?...Thanks for this blog. I'm waiting anxiously for this French election (as an American expat in France) but find it so much more interesting than the US election.

Miraz Hossain said...
Aujourd’hui, et pour la première fois dans une élection démocratique, le peuple a l’opportunité de dire aux politiques :

Pour les élections présidentielles, les Français ont donc deux choix.

Pas celui d’ entre bonnet blanc et blanc bonnet, mais un vrai choix de société.
Celui de s’assoir sur leurs mains à contempler leur nombril avec la foi du charbonnier que les politiques délivreront leurs promesses de changements.
Ou celui de prendre leur destin en main, en votant pour un changement démocratique qu’eux seuls sont en mesure de délivrer.


Olivier BORRAZ said...

I think what people mean when they say Hamon has brought back intellectuals into politics, is that he, and Melenchon too for that matter, do not hesitate to refer to scientific studies to uphold their propositions. This is new, in a country where political and administrative elites, of which Macron and Fillon are clear examples, openly despise academics and anything pertaining to research and university. Hamon and Melenchon work with academics and grad students, and they show respect for their contributions. This allows them to bring in new topics in the campaign, such as issues related to environmental or occupational health, which before went unnoticed. When they talk about technical matters, they show much more preciseness than Macron or Fillon, who remain very technocratic in their approach. Of course, my comment is "situé". But it's refreshing to find politicians who show respect for the sciences in political debates ...