Monday, May 29, 2017

L'Esprit Public Canceled

It is Memorial Day here in the US, and I was saddened this morning to learn that one of my favorite France Culture programs, L'Esprit Public, which Philippe Meyer has produced for the past 19 years, will not be renewed. Unlike many political discussion shows, this one was always exemplary in its sobriety and depth. I, for one, will miss the weekly podcast. I hope M. Meyer finds a home on another station.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Macron at L'Esprit

Very interesting interview with Olivier Mongin, editor of L'Esprit, concerning Emmanuel Macron's work for the journal, his relationship with Paul Ricoeur, and his political thought and outlook.

Macron Débuts on the World Stage

Emmanuel Macron made his first appearance at a grand international meeting at yesterday's NATO conference. Much commentary has focused on his several handshakes with Donald Trump, whose overbearing manner failed to cow the young French president, even if our First Oaf did manage to shove aside the prime minister of Montenegro in his zeal to place himself in the front row for a photo op. For a brilliant commentary on the whole show, you can't do better than the interview Dominique Moïsi gave to France Inter this morning:

Dominique did not comment, however, on what I thought was the most remarkable moment of the conference. Macron, arriving last for the meeting, found himself alone facing a phalanx of the high and mighty. With his customary poise, he traversed the distance between himself and the advancing front rank of leaders, which included, of course, Trump slightly to the right of center but also Angela Merkel slightly to the left. At the last moment, Macron veered to his right to greet Merkel, whom he had of course met in Germany last week, with a warm hug, leaving Trump, who clearly expected to be greeted first in a sign of feudal submission, looking characteristically unsure of how to conceal his contempt.

The commentary on this event--including mine--would not be out of place in an analysis by a Jacques Le Goff or Georges Duby of some medieval court ritual. In a moment of absolute uncertainty in world affairs, with the most powerful nation in the world governed by a "terrifying," "impulsive," "unpredictable," and incurious imbecile (the words in quotes are Dominique's, the last two are mine), we are reduced to scrutinizing the gestures of our lords for signs of the order that once reigned after the supposed "end of history." Back then we called it the New World Order. How nostalgically quaint that appellation seems today.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Big Test

Surprisingly, the Philippe I Government is very popular, and it now seems that REM might even win an absolute majority in the Assembly. If it does, this will be taken as a mandate to proceed full speed ahead with Macron's program, the first element of which is reform of the labor code.

Elie Cohen gives an excellent analysis of the reform here (h/t George Ross). The only thing lacking from Cohen's analysis is an evaluation of the likely effects of the reform. Will it, as promised, actually reduce unemployment or increase investment? From an economist like Cohen one might expect such an analysis, but instead we get a discussion--a very lucid discussion--of how the Macron reform repairs the mistakes of similar reforms attempted by his predecessors. The discussion is entirely tactical. Avoid retreats indicating weakness and uncertainty, proceed quickly, by ordonnance if necessary, take a pedagogical approach, build on previous negotiations, enlist allies among the unions but without making unnecessary concessions.

All well and good, but the discussion makes passage of the reform a test of presidential strength and acumen rather than one pillar of a broader economic strategy. The question is whether such a strategy already exists, or whether it must be deferred until after the outcome of this first step is clear. It is as if the battlefield ahead is still too shrouded in fog to know where resistance lies. Only after the battle over labor code reform is engaged will Macron know where he must concentrate his forces for the next battle. The assumption is that this first battle is all but won, but its unfolding will reveal the shape of battles to come. I think this is probably correct, but it may also be somewhat overconfident. Even if the first battle is not lost, it may inflict substantial enough damage to slow the planned invasion. At the moment, confidence is high, but so is uncertainty. And since Bruno Le Maire could well be defeated in his re-election bid, Macron cannot even be sure who his generals will be as he prepares for coming skirmishes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The New Philippe Government

How to read this? The economy has been handed to the right: Le Maire as Minister of the Economy and Darmanin as Minister of "Action and Public Accounts," whatever that is--what happened to Finance? This is not good news for those who hoped for liberalization with a human face. Of course the intention may be to drive the wedge as deeply as possible into LR in advance of the legislatives, with the hope of persuading a large swathe of LR voters to vote for REM deputies. But I don't like the look of things.

Meanwhile, Bayrou gets Justice, Le Drian Foreign Affairs, Collomb Interior, and Ferrand "Territorial Cohesion."

Nicolas Hulot joins a government at last--to which I say, So what?

Muriel Pénicaud at Labor I know nothing about, but this is an important post in view of Macron's program.

I can already sense a cooling of Macronmania. This is a government well to the right of center. Yes, Jean-Luc, you told us so.

Division Everywhere

As predicted, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen has begun a flirtation with Laurent Wauquiez, which is to say, with the right of Les Républicains.

« J’appartiens à la “droite Buisson”, explique la jeune femme à l’hebdomadaire, faisant référence à l’ancien conseiller de Nicolas Sarkozy, Patrick Buisson. J’ai été très marquée, récemment, par son livre La Cause du peuple, dans lequel j’ai vu exposés de manière claire les fondements de cette droite nationale, identitaire, sociale qui est la mienne. » La présidente du FN et M. Philippot, de leur côté, récusent le terme de « droite » et estiment que le FN a plutôt vocation à se placer dans un nouveau clivage, qui oppose « patriotes » et « mondialistes ».
Caduc, le vieux clivage droite-gauche ? « C’est un clivage qui continue d’exister mais qui est inexact dans la structuration actuelle des partis politiques, répond pour sa part Marion Maréchal-Le Pen. Un profil comme Laurent Wauquiez change la donne. Mais il faut voir ce qu’il fera de ce pouvoir ! Si c’est pour avoir un nouveau Sarkozy, ce n’est pas utile. (…) Ce qui est sûr, c’est que, dans le paysage politique actuel à droite, il fait partie de ceux dont les déclarations laissent penser qu’on aurait des choses à se dire et à faire ensemble. »
La droite Buisson: UMPS on one side, LRFN on the other. Meanwhile, Philippot has announced his own movement within the FN, a Macron-ish move and a shot across Marine Le Pen's bow. And the marriage between Dupont-Aignan and MLP has ended after only two weeks.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Populism of the Elite

France's elites are proud. They'd never stoop, as John Kerry did, to donning a hunting jacket and shouldering a shotgun to prove he was a real man and not just a windsurfer (or antiwar war hero). They'd never demean themselves, as Hillary Clinton did, by aping Bernie Sanders. When challenged by populisms of the right and left, the French elite chose to fight fire with fire: they mounted a populism of the elite.

The concept is less oxymoronic than it sounds. You cast about among the best and the brightest. You find a brilliant and handsome young man, le gendre idéal, as the French like to say. You portray him as the prodigy he is: pianist, philosopher, footballer, banker, énarque, tennisman manqué, cool, affable, confident to a fault. You equip him with a narrative to counter that of the scowling populisms that threatened--and still threaten--to bring down the Republic: like them, he, too, claims to represent the good People, but his good people are optimistic, forward-looking, striving, upwardly mobile, ambitious. Leave "globalism's losers," les laissés-pour-compte, for the others. Emphasize his qualities as a "uniter, not a divider": et de droite et de gauche, he has forgotten those bygone, shopworn distinctions of the old world and keeps his eyes resolutely fixed on the new.

You have him say no more about what he is for than they do. Concentrate, as they do, on what he is against. They are against the system, the banks, globalization, capitalism. He is against pessimism, passéisme, and passivity. He is for dynamism, le roman de l'énergie nationale, as Barrès once put it.

And above all do not misrepresent what you will do in office. This was Hollande's mistake. There is an elite consensus on What Is to Be Done. Do not deny this, as Hollande did, but do not describe it, either, because it will only make a lot of people unhappy. Once elected, make it clear that you truly believe in this consensus, that it was not merely a myth toward which you gestured to get elected. Nominate as your prime minister another true believer, another prodigy like yourself, another énarque who has proved that he can thrive in both the private sector and the public, who gets on with everyone, but whose steel fist (he is a boxer, after all) is evident beneath the velvet glove. Welcome the cheers that emanate from the others like yourself, all of whom are eager to join you now that you have won, who admire your audacity even as they nurse an undeniable envy that you were the Chosen One each of them had hoped to be.

And then hope beyond hope that it all works, somehow, because in your heart of hearts you know that bold experiments often go wrong. You are not really as confident as you appear. Your wife trained you while still quite young to be a good actor. In your private moments, and precisely because you are the prodigy you've been made out to be, you know that you're walking a tightrope, and that the moment you show signs of losing your balance the slings and arrows will start flying from below, aiming to knock you off. Et voilà, there you are, eighth president of the Republic. You can't quite believe it, mais en même temps, as everyone is now mocking you for saying, you knew all along that you would win. You just had that feeling--as all great gamblers do. Sometimes the odds catch up with them, of course, but for all your training in the arts of calculation, you've never really been a calculator. You've always trusted your instincts, no matter how unconventional, no matter what disapproval they aroused. Your presidency will be a classic contest of virtù contra fortuna. And we in the gallery will be grateful for what promises to be one of the better shows of recent times.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Edouard Philippe, PM

Here's the story. I had  been hoping for Sylvie Goulard, a woman and a centrist, but Philippe makes more political sense for a president who must put together a majority with elements of the center-right as well as the center-left. The nomination is Juppé's revenge. It is also Michel Rocard's revenge, since Philippe was apparently a Rocardian in his youth.

Of course, this odd convergence in the center, so at odds with French tradition, will put both extremes on the new government even before it is formed. Macron is banking on a German-style Grand Coalition. What emerges from this will of course depend on the balance of power determined by the legislative elections. Until then we commentators will be speculating in a void.

ADDENDUM: The new PM profiles ... Mélenchon.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

France, The Next Unicorn

"Unicorn" is the Silicon Valley term for a startup that hits the big time. Much has been made of Macron's use of managerial language and of the Valley's go-go rhetoric of disruption and innovation. Little of that was on display in today's passation de pouvoir, which emphasized the symbolic "investiture" of the new king with the trappings of the old. Hollande was accused of never having been able to "incarnate" the monarchical French presidency. Macron aimed to "incarnate" from the get-go, his solitary procession up the red carpet to the seat of power on which the dying body of the old king still sat, waiting to be phagocyté (as the French say) by the new. When it was all over, the new king, vigorous and erect in his chaste blue suit and blue tie, accompanied the lumbering old man, now returned to the unprepossessing "normality" from which he sprang, to his waiting car.

Actually, Macron did not accompany Hollande all the way to his car. The ex-president's vehicle apparently stood on the other side of the invisible barrier separating the sacred from the profane. The newly sacralized president went with the now desacralized old man to the very edge of the royal enclosure, but from there Hollande was on his own--reduced to a disembodied arm waving wanly from an open car window. Macron waited until the old man had disappeared, then turned on his heel, regained the perron, stood for a moment with Brigitte, and then entered the palace of which he was at last in sole possession. The TV cameras were discreetly stationed to record what happened next: Brigitte was ushered away by palace flunkies, while Emmanuel bounded up the stairs four at a time to get right down to work launching France the startup on its way to becoming a unicorn. The time for regal symbolism was over; now it was back to the twenty-first century and the business of Making France Great Again (though not without ritual homage to the wounded and dead of France's wars internal and external).

I am older than François Hollande, so I couldn't help feeling a funereal pang at the sight of my generation being ushered off the world stage to make way for the eager young. But we've made a hash of things, so I suppose it's their turn. Still, I couldn't help imagining a suppressed smirk on Macron's lips as he watched Hollande being driven out the gate. In one of the documentaries on the campaign, Macron is told that his security people think it will be dangerous for him to visit striking workers at Whirlpool in Amiens. It's an angry crowd, "If you listen to the security guys," Macron says, "you end up like Hollande: safe but dead." That peremptory judgment came to mind as I watched Hollande disappear into the rue Faubourg St.-Honoré. Safe but dead. An accurate verdict on his presidency. Who can imagine what verdict will be pronounced on Macron's five years from today? To the young everything seems possible. Wisdom (which isn't nearly as satisfying as it's cracked up to be) is the discovery that it isn't.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Minority Voters

From Libé:
Comment ces électeurs se sont-ils comportés dans cette élection inédite ?
Cet électorat, dont une bonne partie réside dans des quartiers populaires, s’est tout d’abord davantage abstenu. Sa participation est plus de 10 points en dessous de la moyenne nationale. S’il y a toujours une prime très importante à la gauche, c’est Jean-Luc Mélenchon qui en a le plus profité puisqu’il fait 37 % parmi les électeurs déclarant une ascendance maghrébine (on rappellera qu’en 2007 et 2012, ces électeurs s’étaient massivement prononcés en faveur de Ségolène Royal, puis François Hollande pour le PS, au premier comme au second tour à chacune de ces élections). Ensuite, viennent Emmanuel Macron à 28,5 % et Benoît Hamon à 11 %. De manière plus marginale, Marine Le Pen fait 9 % et François Fillon 8,5 %.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Macron's Philosophical Education

Emmanuel Macron ruminates on his apprenticeship in philosophy. I look forward to a transcript of his first meeting with Donald Trump. (h/t Jake Soll)

A Couple of New Pieces

Beginning to think about the legislatives in The American Prospect, and musing on Macron for New Zealand Public Radio. And for a bonus, here are my friends Hugo Drochon, Chris Bickerton, and Chris Brooke with David Runciman talking politics.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Schulz Backs Macron

A division has opened in Berlin between Martin Schulz and Angela Merkel. Schulz has sided with Macron on the need for eurozone reform, while Merkel insists that France get its own house in ordnung before she'll budge (but she may be bluffing in advance of this fall's German elections).

With most German voters fearful of putting taxpayers’ money at risk outside their borders, the SPD leader is taking a political gamble ahead of elections on Sunday in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous region. But with SPD support weakening in recent weeks, Mr Schulz has taken a chance on clearly differentiating himself from Ms Merkel over eurozone policy ahead of Sunday’s poll and national elections in September.
It's good to see a Social Democrat in Germany taking an electoral risk. Perhaps Macron's successful high-stakes gamble in winning the French presidency has put risk-taking back in vogue. It's about time. Europe has suffered from an excess of caution in recent years, with all the audacity coming from the extremes.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Hamon has announced that he has "gone into opposition," but his party is crumbling around him. Valls tried to bolt to REM (I love that Macron's new party, République en Marche, has the initials of a rap group or a state of somnolence) and was rebuffed. Mélenchon discovered that the Insoumis included the Communists, who both remain insoumis (to him) and know a thing or two about cults of personality. They will pursue their own independent, unbowed course to oblivion. The Juppéistes are on the verge of going their own way. MoDem is hoping for a prime minister named Sylvie Goulard. Baroin and Wauquiez are busily stabbing each other in the back and casting about for henchmen. And Marion has left Tante Marine in the lurch, while auntie tries to figure out whether Philippot, who has become the face of the FN on TV and the voice on radio, is more of a liability than an asset. And speaking of radio, Patrick Cohen is leaving France Inter for Europe1.

In short, the French political landscape is already looking like the aftermath of a tornado, and REM won't even announce its slate of candidates until tomorrow. It's going to be a fascinating first 100 days. Everything is in flux, and the currents are impossible to read.

Meanwhile, here at home, in contrast to France, the orange-maned narcissist-in-chief is on the march. Normally I refrain from using the f-word, but when your clueless president fires the person who is investigating him for suspected collusion with a foreign power, "fascism" seems somewhat less hyperbolic. France has for now kept its republic, while the US is once again contemplating Benjamin Franklin's answer to a citizen who asked what kind of government the constitutional convention had given the country: "A Republic, sir, if you can keep it."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What a Difference a Debate Makes

It looks as though the last debate really did turn things around. Had Le Pen behaved herself, she might have met expectations. But her self-redemonization sank her.


My optimism about German flexibility on austerity may have been misplaced. Merkel has thrown cold water on Gabriel's more effusive statements about the need to jettison fiscal orthodoxy and fund a Franco-German investment fund. Remember, however, that she faces an election in September and has to play to the galleries. But nothing much will happen before autumn.

Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen is under increasing fire from within the FN. I expect she will soon sacrifice Philippot in the hope of saving herself.

Manuel Valls announced this morning that he will run for the AN on the République en marche ticket (this being the new name of En Marche!). He said his "values" continue to be socialist, but the Socialist Party is dead. Meanwhile, Hamon seems to be looking (still) for some kind of alliance with Mélenchon, presumably this time as a humble supplicant.

All this suggests that the rumors that Macron will turn to the right for a PM make political sense. The PS is in full disintegration mode, and he really needs to prevent LR from regrouping as a unified opposition bloc. But my guess is that he will not want to put himself too much at the mercy of the Juppéistes either. Look for a surprise, such as Sylvie Goulard, whose European credentials and gender would better suit the renewal theme (and also allow Macron himself to dominate the domestic agenda).

Meanwhile, even the CFDT is putting Macron on notice that he'd better not be too high-handed in pressing labor code reform.

Finally, the Harvard Gazette interviews me on the election.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Ça bouge!

Some interesting bits on France2 tonight after the slightly sick-making shots of the "young president" being taken by the arm by the "old president" and "guided" gently through the symbolic rituals of power: the regeneration of the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe, etc. And of course the resurrected footage of young Emmanuel Macron acting in a high school play under the direction of Brigitte Trogneux--who continued to critique his speech preparation 23 years later before a major meeting. Heartwarming, I'm sure.

I was nevertheless more interested in the news that Christian Estrosi, selon ses dires, was offered and refused a ministry under Macron. His support for le jeune ingénu seems to have fractured his majority in the PACA regional counsel, so he is resigning from his post there and falling back on his fiefdom in Nice.

Meanwhile, Nathalie St.-Cricq reports that Macron will choose a PM from the right, possibly the mayor of Le Havre Édouard Philippe. This would have the benefit of splitting the right, St.-Cricq said, adding that it was all being plotted under the watchful eye of Alain Juppé. Meanwhile, Sarkozy, at la place de l'Etoile, had a few words of avuncular advice for the new man of the hour. "Je sais d'expérience que le difficile commence maintenant." Eh oui.

Still just rumors.

A More Light-Hearted Take on the Election

In which I imagine Macron as Robin dumping Batman in order to beat Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Here.

I was notified that a subscriber unsubscribed today because he or she found the blog "offensive, strongly disagree, or disapprove." That's the first time that's happened. Perhaps a Le Pen supporter, who might find this take even more offensive. Can't please everybody.

Le Maire Steps Out

Bruno Le Maire, for whom the knives are out in LR, has made an overture to Macron:

"Traître à quoi ? A nos idées ? Quelle différence fondamentale y a-t-il entre nos idées sur la libéralisation de l'économie, le soutien aux entrepreneurs, la construction européenne, et les idées d'Emmanuel Macron ? Je suis fidèle à mes idées, à mes convictions".
"Il suffirait que Bruno Le Maire se déclare candidat En Marche, il aurait toute sa place dans la nouvelle majorité", a réagi sur LCP le centriste Jean Arthuis, soutien d'Emmanuel Macron.
"Je pense que Bruno Le Maire fait partie de ces hommes politiques talentueux et généreux", a-t-il commenté, plaidant pour qu'il y ait des "ministres de droite, de gauche, du centre" dans le gouvernement Macron. "C'est là le signe majeur qu'Emmanuel Macron va évidemment donner", a encore ajouté le député européen Jean Arthuis.

The Morning After

The speeches are over, the television studios are dark, and it is a holiday in France, VE day, an occasion for somber joy--joy because the fascists did not win the war, somber because so many died in seeing to it that they did not.

For some of us, yesterday was also a day of somber joy. For others it was not. My friend Nico B., who shares none of my satisfaction with Macron's victory for reasons I perfectly well understand, reminds me that among registered voters (not just "expressed votes"), Macron scored 44%, Le Pen 22%, and neither of the above (abstentions plus spoiled/blank ballots) 34%. And of Macron's 44%, who knows how many were strategic voters, casting a ballot for Macron only to block Le Pen?

These figures are a stark reminder of the challenge Macron faces. He will propose major reforms, including what will surely be a controversial overhaul of the labor code (which he has said he will do by executive order, a move that will surely spark cries of "Tyranny!" and put demonstrators in the streets). Whatever he does in this regard is unlikely to produce immediate results. Any improvement in the investment climate due to the victory of a business-friendly candidate will be quickly offset by the negative images stemming from what the French like to call un troisième tour social. Scowling Mélenchon will see vindication in whatever turmoil ensues. And Le Pen will continue to claim that she alone represents la vraie France.

Against this simmering rebellion what weapons does Macron have? On May 15, Richard Ferrand said this morning, the new president will name his prime minister. The choice will be important. It will be the moment to establish a dynamic, if that is possible. It will set the tone for the legislative campaign. En Marche!'s campaign strategy remains murky. It will run its own candidates but also seek alliances. The Socialists seem receptive, while LR does not. But of course the Socialists need alliances, because they are in even worse shape than LR. And any alliance with the Socialists will only further diminish Macron's luster in the eyes of those who chose him only as un pis-aller.

I wrote in my Nation piece that Macron at times seemed to aspire to walk on water. On the day after his election it almost seems as if he will have to if he wishes to stay afloat. He needs miracles--not just a miracle but a series of them. Thus far he's been extraordinarily lucky, but will his luck last?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Early Data from FT

Interesting piece. (May be paywalled.)

Note the maps. Macron squeezed Le Pen back into her deepest redoubts, wiped out previous geographic gains. Only 10% of Mélenchon supporters crossed to Le Pen, well below the 18% predicted. Fillon voters did vote for Le Pen, however. The republican front collapsed on the right, not on the left. This augurs a hard-right turn for LR. If Wauquiez becomes the party leader, an alliance with the FN is possible, I wager.

First Thoughts

I discuss the results in a podcast with journalists Karin Pettersson of Sweden's Aftonbladet and Georg Diez of Germany's Der Spiegel. And I have a hot take in Foreign Affairs.

Macron's two speeches were excellent, but the big news is that Marine Le Pen will launch a new party and seek alliances--a frank admission that her plan to make the FN salonfähig has failed.

Baroin has gone straight into opposition with nary a kind word for Macron. The battle between him and Wauquiez for control of LR will be fierce and nasty, I predict.

Le Pire ne passe pas

If you'll forgive me for expressing an opinion, On a gagné! The worst has not happened. Le Pen's re-demonization of her party in the final 2 weeks ensured that Macron would do even better than had been predicted from the beginning. Now the real work begins. I wish the new president the best of luck. Stay tuned for the legislatives.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Macron E-Mail Hack

Relax, people. He's 22 points ahead, he does not have Clinton's baggage, France knows all about campaign skullduggery, and what has immediately been denounced on all sides as foul play will probably add to his vote total rather than subtract from it. Le Pen's appointment of a Holocaust denier as interim head of the party, her reversals on Frexit and the euro, her savagery and psychotic smile in the debate--all these things have reminded people of what 6 years of "de-demonization" had been intended to make them forget, that the FN is not a party like the others. 

It's over. Macron has won. Non passaran. Salvation is at hand. And then what? It's back up the mountain for Sisyphus.

A Hypothetical for Your Consideration

Suppose Marine Le Pen doesn't want to win this election. Then the events of the last two weeks would make sense. The retreat from EU withdrawal and euro abandonment consequent upon the wine-watering choice of Dupont-Aignan as prime minister-designate, the bizarrely aggressive debate performance, the disastrous nomination of Jalkh to head the party (how could MLP not have known of his Holocaust denial)--all these things make no sense for a candidate who wants to win but have a ready explanation if she wants to lose.

The FN has always been the family business, and a good business it was. Election would quickly spoil the brand. The party would have to take responsibility, and Le Pen surely knows how hard it would be to deliver on any of her promises. She knows she has zero chance of obtaining a working majority in the Assembly. So why spoil a good thing? By losing, she keeps herself pristine as leader of those who refuse to compromise with "the system" (Mélenchon will be a robust challenger, but he has been a minister, hence is already tainted). Really, there's no upside in winning. She'd probably face violent protests even before taking office. Why shoulder the burden of bloody repression when you can parlay failure into a healthy income stream?

Look at Donald Trump's dilemma. Profits or power? He's now got all the headaches of power. Of course he can use it to multiply his profits. But that's because he already has a tentacular private-sector empire. Marine's business will do better if she can stay out of office. And she was losing anyway. So why not shut the door on any outside chance of victory? Behave like a Neanderthal in debate. Confuse your supporters by reneging on your signature policy proposals. Keep your internal rivals guessing about what you're up to.

The only danger for Le Pen is that she will lose so badly that the internal enemies will see their chance and take their shot. That means primarily Marion Maréchal Le Pen, but she's still very young. MLP probably figures it was worth the risk. She's playing to lose. Maybe. Jus' sayin' ....

First Post-Debate Poll: Macron + 2

The first post-debate poll, by Elabe, shows Macro with a two-point bounce:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

En Route Home--No Blogging Today

The (parodic) debate summary I posted yesterday, while the debate was still going on, will have to suffice, dear readers. I am flying home today from Houston, where I gave several talks on the election for the Houston World Affairs Council. I want to take this opportunity to thank my hosts for their gracious welcome. I was surprised and gratified by the interest in the French election among council members, other guests, and even a group of high school students, whose questions demonstrated real knowledge of European and world affairs.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Summary of the Great Debate

Le Pen: You were minister of the economy, yet you insist that 2+2=4.
Macron: And you, Mme Le Pen, you would have our compatriots believe that 2+2=5.
Le Pen: (mocking laughter) Of course, M. Macron, and if you were not the servant of the lobbies and the banks, you would understand that 2+2 has always equaled 5.
Macron: (exasperated, attempting to remain understated) Let me explain to you, Mme Le Pen, why 2+2=4. Take these two fingers ...
Le Pen: How dare you, M. Macron, if you still have fingers, it's only because the radical Islamist jihadists whom you support, whom you invite to your meetings, whose endorsements you accept, have not yet cut them off ...
Macron (with exaggerated patience): Have you nothing to propose for the solution of the problem 2+2? How can that be, Mme Le Pen, after two years of campaign? Can it be because you are truly the heir of your father's party ...
Le Pen: When will you accept responsibility for the failure of M. Hollande, whom you served so abjectly ...
Macron: I will accept responsibility for what I did but not for what others did. Unlike you, I am indebted to no one ...
Le Pen: You deny, then, that you and Hollande are responsible for depriving the French of the extra unit that was theirs until you ceded it to Brussels and reduced 5 to 4?
Macron: Without our partners, Mme Le Pen, we could not even make 2+2 = 3.
Und so weiter.
Now I must go explain all this to the good citizens of Houston.

Am I Still Confident?

I was asked this morning whether I remain confident in a Macron victory after the Dupont-Aignan crossover and the refusal of 50% of the Insoumis to vote for Macron. Answer: yes.

Macron en position de force, malgré des fragilités

Selon l’enquête du Cevipof, Emmanuel Macron est crédité de 59 % des intentions de vote pour le second tour de l’élection présidentielle face à Marine Le Pen. Un choix qui semble solide : 91 % de ceux qui comptent voter pour lui assurent que leur choix est définitif ; ils sont 88 % chez Mme Le Pen. Le favori est néanmoins fragile selon ce sondage puisqu’une nette majorité de ses électeurs, 60 %, déclarent voter pour lui par défaut.

En savoir plus sur

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Two-Thirds of the Insoumis Militants Will Vote Blank or Abstain

What did you expect, when their chief all but declared he'd regard them as wusses of they voted for "the bankers' tool?" But it's not as dire as it sounds. The canvas covered only the FI militants, not the 19% of the electorate that went for Méluche in round 1. Presumably a good many of them are made of flabbier stuff and are more frightened of a Le Pen presidency than a Mélenchon tongue-lashing. On verra. I'm still sticking with my Macron by a comfortable margin prediction. I'm not saying how comfortable. Comfortable enough, though. If I'm proved wrong, I'll stop blogging (just kidding--did Fillon drop out of the race when mis en examen? Why should I be harder on myself than such a paragon?)

Sigmar Gabriel Backs Macron, Calls for an End to "Financial Orthodoxy"

I have been saying for a while now that the best reason to vote for Macron is that he will alleviate German fears about France's unreliability as a European partner. Sigmar Gabriel's op-ed in today's Le Monde makes it clear that he supports this view:

Emmanuel Macron a raison : l’Allemagne doit en finir avec l’orthodoxie financière qui, en ces temps de taux d’intérêt négatifs, contribue plutôt à favoriser le retard des investissements qu’à moderniser notre pays. Une telle politique est néfaste non seulement pour l’Europe, mais aussi pour les Allemands qui devront payer cher lorsque les taux d’intérêt augmenteront à nouveau et que le retard des investissements se sera davantage creusé.

Nous autres, Allemands, devons enfin cesser de raconter des histoires mensongères sur l’Europe. En Allemagne, le monde politique, les médias et, en partie, le monde de l’entreprise ne cessent de clamer que notre pays est la « bête de somme » de l’Union européenne. En vérité, l’Allemagne n’est pas un « contributeur net », mais bien un « bénéficiaire net ». Car 60 % de nos exportations vont en Union européenne. Ce n’est donc que si toute l’Europe se porte bien que les Allemands vont bien également. Si les autres Européens vont mal, l’Allemagne elle aussi souffrira, à terme, de chômage.

Mediapart Investigates Russian Financing of Le Pen

Mediapart claims to have uncovered a network of occult Russian financing of the FN led by Putin advisor Alexander Babakov.

L’enquête menée par Mediapart et le site d’investigation letton Re:Baltica dans les coulisses des prêts russes du FN raconte une tout autre histoire : celle d’un réseau qui s’est constitué – avec ses intermédiaires et ses structures opaques – pour aider le parti de Marine Le Pen à décrocher des millions, et même à en masquer la provenance. En filigrane de ce scénario apparaît le rôle décisif du sénateur Alexandre Babakov, ultra-patriote et conseiller du président Poutine en charge des relations avec les organisations russes à l’étranger. Ce sont lui et ses proches qui, entre 2014 et 2016, ont mis le FN en contact avec trois banques russes au profil douteux, au cours de rencontres à Paris et à Genève dont nous dévoilons ici les coulisses.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day

I am in New York to speak about the election this evening at Columbia. So I leave you with this from Victor Hugo:

Premier mai

Tout conjugue le verbe aimer. Voici les roses.
Je ne suis pas en train de parler d'autres choses.
Premier mai ! l'amour gai, triste, brûlant, jaloux,
Fait soupirer les bois, les nids, les fleurs, les loups ;
L'arbre où j'ai, l'autre automne, écrit une devise,
La redit pour son compte et croit qu'il l'improvise ;
Les vieux antres pensifs, dont rit le geai moqueur,
Clignent leurs gros sourcils et font la bouche en coeur ;
L'atmosphère, embaumée et tendre, semble pleine
Des déclarations qu'au Printemps fait la plaine,
Et que l'herbe amoureuse adresse au ciel charmant.