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.


bert said...

Anonymous said...

Candidates' choice for REM

214 women/214 men

19.000 candidates, 71% men, 29% women

52% "from civil society" (ie., not previously elected nationally)

2% currently looking for jobs

4% retired

1% college/grad students

95% aren't incumbants

average age 46 (vs. 60 for current MPs)

ages range from 24 to 72

24 incumbents, all PS, and "there remain spaces for bipartisan support open to LR"

Manuel Valls: will not be chosen by EM because he doesn't meet the criteria but in order to avoid looking vindictive they won't present anyone against him


Robinson said...

Good for Schulz: if he is going to lose, he may as well run on what he believes in. Perhaps there will be another Grand Coalition and Merkel will implement Schulz's suggestions while blaming the SDP for them? One can hope...

Anonymous said...


And no En Marche candidate in the NKM & Le Maire circumscription....

Man on the moon...

bernard said...

So, for now, Macron and REM are delivering on their promise to profoundly renew politics. This is so depressing for the mainstream press: half of candidates women, half of candidates new to politics, what the hell, where are the broken promises on day 3?!!!

For those commentators who expect (read hope) that Macron will fail because he is such a supporter of international plutocratic capitalist banking (he did sin for two years before dividing his salary by 7), I have news that they could have gathered 6 months ago had they even bothered: 80% of the people close to him come from the left (all class traitors, it goes without saying). I can confirm though that Rothschild is indeed an East Coast name which, I suspect, is actually not irrelevant to the sentiments of quite a significant proportion of our hard left supporters (hard left in terms of chattering, don't get me wrong). Macron himself is, fortunately or unfortunately, not Jewish.

My last remark is for Massillian: I like Corinne Versini too, se is great and I do hope that she does as well as she deserves. For those who don't know her, se is a start-up entrepreneur and REM leader in the Bouche du Rhône département, so she is both a woman and from civil society. She will be opposed to the traitor Melenchon - the hard leftist bully who did everything he could to help the SozNat MLP in the second round - and to Guérini who unfortunately embodies everything that is wrong with the local socialist party in Marseilles. Corinne will need to be seriously gutsy, which she is, to take those two head on.

Ion Danila said...

A more personal note here from a longtime reader: I just looked over the list to see who will be the candidate in my partner's circonscription (I myself can't vote). She lives in Saint-Amand-Montrond, une "bourgade" of 10000 people, 10 km from the (advertised) geographical center of France. Things there are going as well as you can imagine for a rural region: 13% unemployment, slow loss of population and the closest cities, Bourges and Montluçon, are both lovely but far too small to profit from the new, networked, economy. Not a blighted land, but one disconnected from Paris and where people are less certain about their future than about their problems.

So who does EM send to understand the doubts and dreams of those citizens and potentially represent them? Why, a certain Loïc Kervran, the “Deputy Head of Internal Audit at HSBC France”. Even as a joke it wouldn’t be funny.

bert said...

”You know the lines. Most women ever, younger average age than the AC Milan defence.”
Malcolm Tucker

Tim said...

One thing I would like to hear more about is where do people think Melenchon is going from here? There are a lot of people in the US that are deeply disappointed that Melenchon did not win.

Alexandra Marshall said...

Tim, the people I know in the US who support Melenchon don't read French, have never lived in France, barely understand the Corbyn situation in the UK (that other politician they love to opine on), and certainly have no idea what JLM's program for this election was. Someone told them he is the French Bernie Sanders and off they went. That's anecdotal, and from my network. I'd be surprised if the US actors who praised JLM really had a clue what he was running on and for.

As an American living through Trump from a distance (though hopefully not much longer, since his parade of impeachable offenses is getting more dramatic, and the 2018 congress looking more Dem), the rhetoric of "we need someone from the real world to run things" has turned out to be dystopian. And yet as an immigrant living in France more than a decade, I've long thought the basket of solutions cannot come from ENA-trained thinking alone, with no practical, real-world experience. Perhaps the answer is neither black nor white. I'm excited to see this push to break up the permanent political class. I've been banging that drum for as long as I've been here. I hope this doesn't simply install another one.

Robinson said...

@Tim: Mélenchon seems well positioned to lead the left-wing opposition to the new government. He will likely be elected parliamentary deputy for Marseilles (although one never knows.) FI also stands a decent chance of becoming the largest left-wing formation in the new parliament. It seems as though the Socialists will split, with the strong supporters of Hamon remaining in opposition and the Hollande apparatchiks joining the government. The oppositional left-wing rump of the PS is unlikely to win more seats or votes than France insoumise. The Greens are likewise a spent force, and most of their major personalities back Macron. Groupuscules like Lutte Ouvrière are small potatoes, and I doubt that the Parti Communiste has the will or power to stand in Mélenchon's way. Mélenchon is at his best in opposition, and if he has the tactical skill he can lead the left. Still, the parties are in such a state of flux that right now that the results of the parliamentary elections are impossible to predict: the leftist group may wind up being very small. Furthermore, the main opposition to Macron's reforms is likely to be in the street, not in the National Assembly. Nobody knows if these protests will succeed, or if Mélenchon will be able to capitalize on them. His star may fade.

Art Goldhammer (who has been kind enough to reply to some of my anonymous rants on this blog) strongly dislikes Mélenchon. He feels that Mélenchon had no serious plan for what to do if he had won the presidency, which I fear is true. The result of a JLM victory would have been chaos. Mélenchon had no prospect of a parliamentary majority, and nevertheless planned to enter into explosive re-negotiation talks on the Euro and to convene a constitutional convention at the same time. Americans may be misled by Mélenchon's apparent resemblance to Sanders. Sanders is not a splitter in the way that Mélenchon is (he endorsed and campaigned for Hilary Clinton while Mélenchon opposed Macron); Sanders is willing to criticize Putin; Sanders' ties to the thuggish elements of the Latin American left are not nearly as deep as Mélenchon's; the question of the Euro splits the left from the far left in Europe more thoroughly than any issue in American politics. Finally, Sanders is the most popular politician in the USA. I at least believe that the Sanders platform - universal healthcare, tighter bank regulation, less war - commands a potential majority in America. Mélenchon might have been elected president thanks to the quirks of the French system, but his agenda would have been doomed from the start. Of course a clever and determined extremist like Margret Thatcher succeeded in pushing through an implausible and not terribly popular agenda in the UK in the 1980s. To here there was no alternative: there would have been an alternative to Mélenchon. (Again by way of contrast: the US right is in such ideological disarray right now that the left there stands as good a chance as it has in living memory, provided it plays its cards right and Trump doesn't start a nuclear war.)

I *do* like Mélenchon, and am not shocked by his failure to endorse Macron. It made far more sense than Thomas Piketty's nonsensical declaration that giving Macron a large majority would show how little support there was for Macron's agenda. It is only coherent for the far left to say that the main problem in France is not the rise of the far right but the manifest failures of the mainstream that have made possible the rise of the far right. For what it is worth I think that this diagnosis is correct, although I don't have faith in JLM's remedies for France's ills.

Robinson said...

When Art says that what Mélenchon has to offer is leftist nostalgia and not a serious political agenda, I have to agree. Unlike Art I fear that Macron's politics are also dated: they represent centrist nostalgia, a rehash of the liberal reformism of Blair and Schröder. Above all, I fear that Macron has no solution to the structural contradictions of the Eurozone. A lot of people - in Germany as well as the Anglosphere - have said that if Macron fails the result could be a victory for the FN in 2022. Because of the Muslim question the FN, or a very facho version of the old French Right, seems like the most likely alternative if Macron's project fails. I hope against expectation that Macron succeeds. If he fails, I'm glad that Mélenchon or someone like him will be there compete with the likes of Le Pen, Wauquiez etc.

(Apologies for the lengthy comment: this was my way of amusing myself without wifi on a tarmac in Montreal. I surely need better hobbies than shouting into the void of the internet.)

Anonymous said...


If he fails, if he fails, if he fails..... Repeat, rince, repeat. That is all I have heard for the past few days. French pundits, like the French in general, are the most pessimistic and distrustful people in the world. That is what the opinion polls tell us. But, curiously enough, the same polls reveal that individually we are rather satisfied with ourselves. Pessimistic about others, but egoistic and self-satisfied about ourselves.

Not a very attractive combination. Macron has broken the mould. He is genuinely optimistic and generous in his attitude towards others. Perhaps that is all it takes.

Anonymous said...

Gantzer 's parachuting has become a casus belli with Bayrou.

Tim said...


One thing I find interesting is that Blair/Clinton centrism seems to be having more success in countries that opposed the Iraq War like Canada and France than in the UK and US. For example Trudeau and Macron are both heirs to Blair/Clinton but are also firmly attached to their countries opposition to the Iraq War. Nor is Blair/Clinton politics somehow new to Canada and France. While Chretien was much older than Blair/Clinton his domestic program was very much in line with Blair/Clinton philosophy during the 1990s(especially with Finance Minister Paul Martin). In fact the big split between Chretien and Blair/Clinton doesn't come until Iraq in 2003.

So perhaps the elements of Blair/Clinton politics people really dislike are foreign policy Iraq War parts NOT domestic economic policy as the success of Trudeau and Macron have shown.

Robinson said...

@Tim the case of Germany is an interesting counter-example to what you say. There the SPD engaged in far more drastic reforms to the labour market that Helmut Kohl ever dared to do, although Kohl is general taken as the German analogue to Regan and Thatcher. In Canada as well, I have the sense that Paul Martin cut government spending more drastically than Brian Mulroney was ever able to do in the 1980s (and I think that there is little prospect of Trudeau Jr. expanding the Canadian Federal Government to the size it reached when his more ambitious father was PM). The center-left parties in Germany and Canada cut spending in a way that their center-right predecessors hadn't felt able to. Whereas in Britain (I admit in spite of strong antipathy to Tony Blair), New Labour's domestic policies were a marked improvement over those of Thatcher's Tories (who had themselves moderated when Major succeeded Thatcher.) So the Iraq war doesn't tell the whole story.

@Anonymous: I am sorry to be a wet blanket, particularly because, like you, I think that Macron was the best candidate. Macron is clearly an extraordinary man to have gotten where he is. The combination of will to power and an extraordinary tactical sense is something he shares with Sarkozy (one gets the sense that Macron, like Sarkozy, somehow *wants* it more than the others.) Like Art I am floored by the fact that he worked with Ricour and wrote postgraduate work on Machiavelli and Hegel. Macron is a genuinely cultivated man, like De Gaulle, Pompidou and Mitterrand (and not a faker like Villepin). I can't say that I think he will be a better politician because of his culture, but the fact the France still produces and values such qualities makes me hum the Marseilles to myself. Another comment-writer is correct to say that there has been no American president on Macron's intellectual level since Wilson, although a possible exception is Herbert Hoover (another businessman-scholar - Hoover produced an annotated translation of Georgius Agricola's treatise De re metallica from Latin into English - who had never held elected office prior to becoming president.)

It is invidious and a bit silly of me to compare Macron to Hoover. I genuinely wish him well, but I am somewhat skeptical of his liberalizing reforms, and very skeptical that they will succeed if he isn't able to persuade the Germans to loosen the fiscal straightjacket that constrains the Eurozone. I wish him good luck. Optimism and generosity, however, will not be enough.

Anonymous said...


The other anonymous who said that no American president since Wilson is on Macron's intellectual level, c'est moi. I agree that optimism and generosity are not enough, but as Descartes said, la vraie générosité empêche qu'on ne méprise les autres. That must be very difficult in politics. Whether Macron can get the tight-fisted Germans to loosen the fiscal straightjacket will depend on more Machiavellian skills---virtù---but also on fortuna. Amusing Hoover anecdote. I didn't know that. Thanks.

Tim said...


You are quite correct about Brian Mulroney and government spending in Canada. In fact many rank and file Conservatives were so mad at Mulroney over spending that they broke away and created a "new" Conservative party the "Reform/Alliance" that essentially destroyed Mulroney's "Progressive Conservatives" and then superseded them as the present day Conservative Party of Canada.

However, I must note that Chretien was Trudeau's father's preferred successor after he stepped down in 1984 so the idea that somehow neoliberals stole the Liberal Party of Canada from Trudeau Sr is not really correct. In fact it is probably more the case that Trudeau Sr was not particularly interested in economic issues and simply went along with the "big spending" policies of the 1970s simply as that was the economic consensus of the era even under "conservative" leaders like Valery Giscard D'Estaing. It is also well known that even during this era Jean Chretien in the Trudeau Sr. cabinet was already known as a fiscal hawk compared to some of his free spending colleauges like Marc Lalonde or Allen Maceachern.

Furthermore although completely expected Chretien DID strongly endorse Trudeau Jr's leadership and election early and often.