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.


Tim said...

I would have liked to see Goulard at Economy instead of Defense(not just out of personal preference but I also have business interests before the French government to which I feel Goulard will be more helpful). O'h well I guess.

I too am also wondering what happened to Finance. Historically Economy(akin to the US commerce secretary) is a separate department from Finance but also a much more "junior" department to Finance like the US Commerce Department. However, to the extent that Finance on the org chart is being disassembled in favor of Economy this is probably a good thing as the Economy ministry tends to have a more Keynesian view of the economy than the bean counters at Finance above and beyond whoever is sitting in the ministers office(Despite Economy and Finance both being located in the same building in Bercy).

Anonymous said...

France's economy has structural problems that, if not addressed, will continue the nation's sclerotic decline. The breathtaking speed with which condemnation of Macron has started suggests that the French (and those who comment on the French scene) continue to believe in progress without sacrifice. In which case it will be "business as usual" --in-fighting and tearing up any idea that requires a concession to the old order...and further decline. Alain Duhamel's "The Political Pathologies of the French" continues then, to be the most accurate detailing of the French penchant for vitiating the possibilities for progress in a world that continues to spin around them, a good work to read for those who think France's problems have nothing to do with entrenched French attitudes. Check the figures for foreign investment in France: they continue to decline. Check the exodus of France's best and brightest to the U.S....the "brain drain" is unstanched. In the U.S., freedom is more important than equality; in France equality is more important than freedom. What does it say about France that those educated in its best schools can find no reason to stay because of the country's hostility to elites? Macron, it is always said, is a "banker" --that assessment arrived at because he worked for a bank for 4 years. The constant calling into question of his "bona fides" augurs poorly for the next five years.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 10:17

Spot on. I made a similar point below (see reference to Raymond Aron and John Rawls). You have only to read some of the commentors here to understand the "breathtaking speed with which condemnation of Macron has started": there is an ingrained belief on the left that any attempt to reform the French social, which is built on an enormous pile of debt (total debt now approaching 100% of GDP), is motivated by greed. Macron the "shyster banker" is just the outward expression of a very French pathology about money and elites.

Anonymous said...


"the French social model...."

Robinson said...

I'm on the left, I don't think that Macron is a shyster (and I agree that the way that some of us pronounce the name "Rothschild" is revolting.) He is a banker - not that there is anything wrong with that, but it certainly gives a clue to his outlook - and he is doing exactly what I expected him to do. I went as a spectator to Sarkozy's big rally at the Trocadero and I saw a lot of pretty, dynamic, upwardly mobile and gainfully employed young people. These are the people who have Macron-mania (they seem quite different from the older, Catholic crowd who showed up for Fillion's performance this year.)

He does seem to be tipping his hand a bit too quickly. I've praised Macron in this space for not pretending to be a leftist (as Hollande did.) However, I realize that there are many people on the left who believed that there was a substantial difference between Macron on the one hand and someone like Juppé on the other. If anything Macron is less concerned than Juppé about giving a human face to his reforms (Juppé was burned once and learned his lesson.)

As a tactical move before the Parliamentary elections, this shift of Macron's makes sense: it *will* split the right, and LR is of more concern for REM than the PS. But what will come of all this? I worry. There will be substantial resistance to Macron in the streets, from the Left. This resistance will likely be led by JLM: the institutional PS is a husk. If the Juppé fraction splits from LR, LR will be in the hands of Wauquiez, or at best Sarkozy (who never seems to go away.) The temptation to co-opt or ally with the far right will be irresistible. There will be one big center, the UMPS, to which the main opposition will be the extremes of left and right. If Macron fails, he will be replaced (or REM will be replaced in the event of an early dissolution) by extremists. That is the danger of governing from the centre: it destroys the traditional system of alternance.

@ the comments above, the fact that Macron is signaling a rightward shift on the economy naturally creates anxiety on the left and the "social" centre (which I think is where Art sits). Macron is is politician: it his job to win over those of us who fear that the "sacrifices" needed to liberalize the economy will fall very unevenly upon the poorer parts of society. I hope he is as clever as he thinks he is!

Anonymous said...

"If the Juppé fraction splits from LR, LR will be in the hands of Wauquiez, or at best Sarkozy (who never seems to go away.) The temptation to co-opt or ally with the far right will be irresistible."

Hence the possibility FN might come to power not at the end of a victorious Le Pen presidential campaign, but rather as a junior partner to LR in five years' time.


Robinson said...

@JWC: a fair point, thanks for responding. I will concede that Sarkozy is less toxic than MLP. I'm not sure that I can say the same of Wauquiez. Generally speaking, however: is an LR that conforms to the FN line less dangerous than the old FN, or more?

Anonymous said...

@Robinson: I couldn't agree more. FN might be just as dangerous, if not more, as a junior partner.

Tim said...

I also must take note that ALEC a far right think thank funded by the American Koch Brothers just came out with an op-ed praising Macron and blasting Trump.

Anonymous said...

Too many diverse figures to agree on a common platform . The whole thing will collapse.
No need for USA centric complaints about social welfare just because France does not spend the huge amounts subsidising either the congressional military complex nor the big pharma insurance parasites .

Anonymous said...

They will stick together so long as Macron is popular, particularly if he actually manages an REM majority. If he runs into difficulty, it will be the Fourth Republic all over again.

Lapinot said...

What do people think about the 50-50 sex split and the lack of other diversity? Personally, I think an enforced balance is the wrong way to go about doing the right thing but if it's the right way, then surely ethnicity and sexuality should be, at least roughly, proportionally balanced?

Not that I'm saying that they're prejudiced against those who aren't straight and white, but at a time when Chechen homosexuals are being rounded up and Indonesian homosexuals are being sentenced to being publically caned, wouldn't a homosexual representative have made a strong statement?

And at a time of ethnic tension across Europe and the world, wouldn't having more than two members who aren't white have been important, if you think that is the way things should be done?

bert said...

If diversity comes at the expense of competence there's a problem. As long as that's not the case, then by whatever means necessary.

While we're on the subject, surely all of us, regardless of gender, age or background, can unite in the wish to put our face in Marlène Schiappa's new portfolio and go blubble ubble ubble.

Apparently genuine:

Anonymous said...

"Action and Public Accounts," actually a good translation is "public action and public accounts".

bert said...

Just checked back in on the conversation to find that there isn't one. I hope I didn't kill the thread - while every effort has been made to maintain the standard of jokes no guarantee regarding the quality of humour is implied nor should be assumed.

The basic case for diversity is that there are traditional-looking candidates for every post. Government ministries in western democracies have long been staffed by white middle-aged men. By reaching beyond that restrictive subset, you expand the range of talent available to you.

Here are two ways this can go wrong:

Firstly, your new faces can be disconnected from actual power within the institutions they represent. They're used to give a misleading impression of the way these institutions function and of the interests they serve. (When there's a press conference on the latest US police shooting, the spokesman for the police department will without exception be black.) Macron's government does appear to reflect a genuine diversity, albeit of a specific kind. The CEO of Apple is gay. The CEO of Facebook is a woman. It's the diversity of the Clinton Global Initiative, transmitted to France via Davos. It's genuine, but limited, and nervous about identifications based on religion or class.

The second potential problem is again exemplified in Clintonworld. Any governing majority is by definition a coalition of interests. An excessive emphasis on diversity can lead to an overreliance on identity politics, at the expense of other sources of political meaning. I remember in 2008 unsubscribing from a Clinton email list I'd inadvertently got myself on. They'd sent me an announcement, linked to a joyless report in the Hellenic News, that Hillary '08 had been endorsed by the head of Greek-American advocacy group (led by a woman called Eleni, daughter of the group's founder). I looked back through their emails and saw that this approach was essentially the sum total of their campaign. No vision of society and its problems, no coherent programme, no consistent higher purpose. Just the accumulation of ticks on a checklist on some grim Bob Shrum spreadsheet. The same stink of bogusness hung over her 2016 campaign. Not even cynical - just mechanical.

Of the two potential problems, the second is more insidious. It places a caste of intermediaries between the leadership and its voters, and over the longer term forces these intermediaries into a narrow, sectional, defensive role.

Of the two potential problems, to which is the Macron/Philippe government most vulnerable? I'd say the first, without a doubt. Already there are complaints that a promise has been broken to create a Ministry rather than just a Secretary.

bert said...

Btw, the ”apparently genuine” link should probably have gone to her Amazon page:

At the time she was an exec for marketing group Euro-RSCG, and a Paltrow-ish blogger.

ly heng said...

I can already sense a cooling of Macronmania. This is a government well to the right of center.
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Anonymous said...

Blanquer, the new 'minister of education', worries me. He's the one who tried to import standardized testing and the 'accountability' movement that caused so much damage since GW Bush. Anyone who knows 'No Child Left Behind' knows it started rounds of endless testing for kids, with results published per school or class and teachers evaluated based on their students'results. Apparently he now wants to do that from maternelle to 3e. He also likes large schools, because they're cheaper, despite research showing small schools allow fewer students to fall through the cracks.
Beside this, yes the government clearly tilts to the right. But that's not surprising. Emmanuel Macron's platform was clearly on the center right and he does exactly what he'd promised he'd do.
What boggles the mind is why people on the left somehow thought it'd be a left of center government. Cambadelis in particular is publicly very angry, as if EM was supposed to recreate the PS minus the pesky 'frondeurs'. Well, duh, that never was the plan. I will not be sad when Cambadelis is beaten on his turf by the young technogeek (Mounir something?)
As for people on the left who had no illusions, their vote is likelybto split : in my district, there is one ecolo, one PS (officially pro macron), one PC, one FI facing the EM candidate, two moderate right candidates (LR and LR dissident) and two others on the right with no party affiliation.
I don't know how there can be tactical voting. I think 3-4 instead of two will make it to round 2...

Anonymous said...

As far as diversity, this is clearly a diversity of winners :)
There were so many parameters already that I think tjeybdid the best within the framework they had.
Also, aren't there three (Gerald daramin -?-, Laura Fessel
-?-, Mounir Mahjoubi -?- unsure of their names yet.)
This is the backbone of the temporary government. In a month, it'll change. We'll see in what direction.
I used to worry it's be worse if the Republicains won, but it doesn't look like they can. Rhe main issues how big or how little will the right and the left be in relation to Rem?

Massilian said...

Despite the general applause and cheering and she's a jolly good fellow, she's the best of us, I am not very happy with the nomination of Ms Nyssen. I know I am a wet-blanket. I know Actes Sud is a successful (not so provincial) business so what ? Anyway, I hate the distinctive format of their books, to long, too narrow, unpleasant to hold, I don't like the color of their paper, too yellowish. I sigh everytime I have to buy a book published by Actes Sud; Kamel Daoud and Svetlana Alexievitch for sure...but I can't think of another author I bought from Actes Sud in the past 4 years. They are not much interested in french litterature, they mostly publish foreign writers, which is fine but we expect perhaps more attention to the national scene from the Minister don't we ? To remain rude I find Actes Sud a rather boring but elite friendly publishing house.
I am (lightly but still) bothered by the idea of the Ministre de la Culture running a cultural business on the side (don't you call that "conflit d'intérêts ?), I am also disturbed by her strong involvment in this anthroposophe school, not really, not completely Steiner but still engaged in teaching "spiritualité laïque" to children. I understand Mélenchon is excessive as usual and that this school is not part nor linked to a cult movement, but the Steiner movement doesn't stand far from the edge... I know Edgar Morin accepted to be invited, Nancy Huston also is sympathetic... That doesn't appease me as much as it is supposed to.
So basically, unlike the who's who of Saint Germain, I am not happy with the choice of Ms Nyssen, I don't think it was such a bold, creative move.

FrédéricLN said...

It's all about: what would be a "liberalization with a human face"? Give freedom back to Main Street entrepreneurs and economics by forbidding the financial bubble to eat them? Empower the 99%? Or, just the opposite — asking the 99%, the workers, the companies in the "économie réelle", to pay more for the very few who took the control? The paper in the Boston Review you (Art) suggested as a must-read, actually sets the issues.