08 May 2017

The French election (2)

Not much to add to what I said in my first post on this two weeks ago.  Macron's win over Le Pen by a substantial margin was expected, and given the reactionary positions the latter has lately adopted, France dodged a bullet here.

Supporters of the European Union and opponents of democracy (but I repeat myself) may think the prospect of France reclaiming its independence from the EU has now been quashed.  If so, they're wrong.  In the first round of voting on 23 April, the combined vote for the two main anti-EU candidates (Le Pen and the far-left Mélenchon) reached 43.6% of the total.  Le Pen's 33.9% in yesterday's second round was much lower, but obviously many people who oppose the EU are unable to stomach her for other reasons.  In a country that used to be one of the EU's bastions (and is still its third-largest economy and second-biggest member by population), rejection of the EU has reached a critical mass among the people -- as is true in several other member countries.

There are signs that voters are turning away from politics as usual.  Yesterday's turnout was 74.6%, low by French standards despite what was at stake.  Neither of the second-round candidates came from France's established major parties (imagine a US Presidential race in which the top two vote-getters were neither Democrat nor Republican).  This is part of the pattern of emergence of pro-independence or anti-austerity parties in other member countries such as Syriza in Greece, the Five Star movement in Italy, and genuinely extreme-right groups in Austria and Hungary.  The exception that proves the rule is the UK, where the mainstream Conservative party, which has embraced Brexit, crushed all rivals in last week's local elections and is likely to repeat that performance in the national election next month.

The greatest risk in Europe is that if mainstream politicians continue to ignore voters' concerns about issues like the EU and immigration (while calling them names for being concerned about those things), the voters will eventually get exasperated enough to actually elect genuinely dangerous people like Le Pen and Farage as national leaders.  That's the greater bullet which the UK dodged when Conservative leader David Cameron agreed to hold last year's Brexit referendum.  Macron is a middle-of-the-road, pro-EU politician -- but so was Cameron.  The question is whether he, or someone like him, finally gives the French a say on getting out of this sclerotic and anti-democratic quasi-empire -- before Le Pen, or someone like her, actually wins an election.

7 Comments:

Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

I'm not French, and it isnt my business what the French choose, but I follow these things because these so called free world allies are aligned with us. As far as my views though, I didnt like LePen or Macron (f**k them both) ... and dont see Macron as nothing more than another neoliberal investment banker turned (paid) politician. When these elections were going down, I was reading where so many folks in France felt like we did in America in the last election, simply voting for the lesser of two evils rubbish ... the big money helps make this the reality in my view for many countries, like Citizens Untited crap does here, all to fulfill the new neoliberal agenda ... at least they play their part, whether it's U.S., UK, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Greece or wherever ... I dont even like f'n Trudeau of Canada ... and think he is on the same bandwagon. Like here, it's a plus at least that they still have a French National Assembly and Senate ... my guess is Macron wont be able to just have a cakewalk either.

Speaking of voter turnouts though ... last saturday we had our local city council voting ... I went in to my precinct next door to my home at the library ... it was full with people ... visiting the library that is! But the voting room was "empty"! ... I voted, and since it was the actual election day (not early voting), used a paper ballot (early is electronic) ... when feeding my ballot into the box, the digital reader said I was the 16th voter that day, and that was a couple hours before the polls closed ... that is really sad Infidel, a couple dozen votes at that goddamn precinct poll? ... I told the poor volunteers there when having small chat ... "That's the problem in our country, when it comes to voting". I read the next day, that it was about the lowest voter turnout Dallas has had ... and then in my district no#6, they're going to have a runoff later, and our district is being investigated for voter fraud.

08 May, 2017 15:20  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ranch: It will indeed probably be hard for Macron to get anything through the legislature since he doesn't belong to either of the major parties (imagine an independent US President trying to deal with a Congress still dominated by Democrats and Republicans). But of course that's part of the reason for having separation of powers.

I'm not surprised at the low turnout you mentioned. People tend to feel local elections aren't important, and most elections in the US are held on weekdays (most other countries hold them on weekends). But yours was on a Saturday? You'd think more people would have turned out.

Oregon generally has high turnout, because of our vote-by-mail system. I hope eventually the whole country adopts it.

08 May, 2017 17:29  
Anonymous nonnie9999 said...

The only way to get Americans to vote is to tell them they are on a reality show.

I call what happened in France "The French Correction" (hey, someone should make a movie poster!). I think the U.S. and Britain are isolating themselves from the rest of the world, and it will be to their detriment. I suspect there will be countries less eager to trade with either.

But what do I know?

08 May, 2017 19:12  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nonnie: Maybe that's why we ended up with a reality-TV star as President?

The US may well be isolating itself, but with Britain it's the opposite, at least economically. By freeing themselves from the EU and its rules, they're becoming more open to trade with the rest of the world. As I observed at the time, several other countries (mainly in Asia) started looking into possible trade deals of their own with the UK soon after the referendum last year.

09 May, 2017 03:44  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Well ... they did have early voting too in the week, cause a guy I know voted the week before he said. I had a buddy with me to vote as well, and she tried to vote at my precinct, but they made her go to hers way the Hell over in far east Dallas, since I was driving, we had to go over there next, and even at her precinct, it was like empty, I mean, she was in and out in less than 5 minutes. Still though ... if the stats say it was like the lowest voter turnout ... that means that it was even low in early voting ... it was something like 7.5% turnout (cant remember exactly, but in the "7." range) ... that is like super low! Yeah ... I heard you mention before about ya'll's mail in gig ... I think they have it here too ... I just like getting out and doing it in person I guess ... so that's why I go that route, but then sometimes, like even early voting in the 2016 national last year ... we had a Hell of a long line too, guess it's like you said, folks dont really care much about the local deal ... but I do.

09 May, 2017 04:02  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Also if I may add ... that I forgot, is an interesting point you brought up in your comment response to me when you said imagine a U.S. president independent trying to deal with our congress of democrats and republicans ... I didnt think of that until you mentioned it though. Which makes me wonder if Bernie Sanders who I voted for in the primaries, if elected could have made progress in congress? It also makes me wonder now, that perhaps democrats knew if he was President, would he actually be able to gain any ground on his progressive proposals? ... meaning, the obstruction would be so strong from both houses, that as a President, he may not have been able to do much ... Clinton after all has the insider negotiating gig is what I'm saying ... so a good chance that she may get better results than even Trump at that. Think about it, because even establishment republicans at first basically treated Trump like an independent and didnt even care much for him from the getgo ... the only reason they love him now, is because he ran his game so well as to get them elected majority in the house .. and he's kissing Wall Streets ass big time, bloated defense spending, trillion dollar tax cuts for his friends at the expense of slashing the shit out of our healthcare, etc ... I mean, even Ryan is like "in love" with Trump now, wasnt that way though back in the primaries.

09 May, 2017 07:55  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I think if Sanders had become President, Democrats would have worked with him -- he would have been elected on the Democratic ticket, after all. He would have had problems because Republicans hold the majority, but that would have applied with Hillary as well. Macron started a new party of his own, separate from the French "big two" parties, and won on that basis -- something almost unimaginable here.

09 May, 2017 15:40  

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