Yellow Vests: downfall of ‘Jupiter’

Anna van Densky OPINION The fumes of riots of Yellow Vests don’t distort the clarity of the picture – the working France could not bear any more the policy of successive governments pressing them as lemon to fund their ambitious European and international agenda. The plans of the President Macron to go global came in clash with local: the gasoline tax became the last straw that broke the back of many, especially “working poor“.

Following their ‘Jupiter’, or like French say it, ‘the elected King‘, French people had to continue to actively participate in footing the EU cohesion of Eastern Europe, flows of migrants and refugees,  who have right to live in dignity, the aid to the other continents for their development, climate change, and many other noble causes in the world, sacrificing their own needs. “Americans First!” gave them some eyeopening ideas. Are French really responsible for all the grief in the world?..Don’t they deserve to benefit from the advantages of technological revolution?..

Doubtfully the EU aggressive foreign policy added a huge portion of combustible: the Enlargement shifting borders to the East came to its logical end in a Donbass conflict.  The following war of sanctions with Russia had negative effects on French economy, although not direct, but long lasting,  when the exports being replaced without reverse by the other countries like Turkey, Morocco, or Argentina. In spite of the shrinking agricultural exports, and related difficulties the President declared the increase of the 2019 defense budget by €1.7 billion – up five percent from the present year, the move made under pressure of the Pentagon hawks to meet NATO target military spending.

Detached from working France in his gilded office of the impératrice Josephine palace – Elysée in his rigid role of an ‘elected KingEmmanuel Macron looks archaic, like a relic of another epoch, next to the leaders of the other democracies in Europe, framed in their actions by national parliaments. The modernization of the Fifth Republic, shifting powers from President to Parliament could restore the coherence of French society, while conservation of the archaic forms of governance will  continue to provoke the archaic forms of answers – insurrections.

However the uprising of the Yellow Vests is just the first act. The real tectonic shift in politics will take place in upcoming elections to European parliament: the downfall of ‘Jupiter’.

Citizens versus ‘United States of Europe’

According to the YouGov poll published 30% of Germans and 28% of French support the idea of the United States of Europe, while 33% and 26¨% respectively, disagree. In other countries, such as Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and the UK, the population largely opposed the proposal, with around half of the respondents speaking against the idea.

Earlier this month in Germany an SPD party convention  former president of European parliament Schulz suggested transformation the European Union  into a the “United States of Europe” by 2025 and adopting a constitution, realising the dream of the block’s forefathers: Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet.

 

 

Marion Le Pen bowed out

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (27) declaration of stepping down closes the chapter of the Front National history. In spite of her young age, Maréchal-Le Pen represented the conservative wing of the party, very much associated with it founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, the grand-father and family’s patriarch. The elections showed the limits of the ‘Le Pen’ brand, unanimously cursed by the French left-wing and centrists for almost half-a-century. Emmanuel Macron received two-thirds of votes as a protest against a perspective for Le Pen family ascendance to power, not due to high opinion of his programme.

The structural changes are ahead of the Front National, led by Maréchal’s aunt – Marine Le Pen: the union with the other right-wing patriotic movements, following the successful alliance with Nicolas DupontAignan. The change of name, and further shifting to the political centre are imminent.

However impressive personal talents, charisma and presence of Marechal  are, her departure will have a positive effect of the party, allowing to switch from a Medieval congregation around one family into modern form of gathering, based on meritocracy.

Generally speaking French electorate is tired of nepotism, flourishing in ranks among French elite of the entire political spectrum, representing  a modern version of Roman nobiles, ruling in name of people, but in reality being a closed self-serving cast.

Macron faces “la cohabitation”

Macron minister

The impressive victory in presidential elections does not secure power of Emmanuel Macron, who should gain an impressive number of votes in upcoming legislative elections, 11.06.2017, to be able to realise the package of reforms proposed to his compatriots.

Among the ballots dropped for Macron a considerable amount were transferred from Republicans (Gaullist) – centre right and lesser from Socialists, – both mainstream parties endorsed their support to create a ‘barricade’ against the rival anti-globalist Marine Le Pen.

However in legislative elections every political congregation will struggle for proper seats, and it is highly probable that the Republicans will enter the coalition with En Marche!  to get the comfortable majority. In this case the Republicans will impose their Prime Minister on Macron. The ‘coexistence’ (or ‘la cohabitation) of a President and Prime Minister from different political parties is not new to French political system. In case with the Republicans (centre right) and En Marche! (centrist) of Macron it would be easier functional tandem than la cohabitation Chirac/Mitterrand (Gaullist vs. Socialist).

However, the real challenge for President Macron’s plans of reform will not come from his political opponents, but the powerful syndicates, which had already opposed ‘Macron Law’ when he served as a Finance minister, attempting to modernise and liberalise economy.  The syndicates did not hesitate to take their protests to the streets.

Attempting to reform stagnating French economy, as a minister Macron was blamed to hinder traditional French life-style, and worker’s rights, even dominical work of shops  has been largely seen as an attack on Christian traditions, especially in French rural areas.

The entering Élysée Palace as such does not give a cart blanche to reform profoundly archaic French society. The presidency of Francois Hollande was fractured when  then prime minister Manuel Valls unveiled a second pro-business reform in 2016 that allowed bosses to fire and hire workers more easily, leading to eruption of massive and violent street protests. Holland’s popularity has never risen since. Forced to give up the claims for the second mandate, the stepped down from the scene of history.  But now the pain of his departure soften by his successor, his minister, of his dauphin.

Le roi est mort,  vive le roi!

 

 

 

 

French ‘Revolution 2017’

Marion et Marine

The major conclusion of the first round of the French presidential election is the marginalizing of the two major political parties: centre left and centre right – the Socialists and the Republicans – sharing power through the history of the V Republic. The period  of their reign came to the end, closing the whole chapter of the post WWII political development, which is a revolutionalry change as such.

The other crucial outcome of the elections is the evolution of the Front National from a marginal force into a main stream and, moreover, number one political party, because En Marche! of Emmanuel Macron is a rather broad movement, but not a classical political congregation one can regard as a party with an ideological core.

En Marche! is a young movement, which is captivating the protest moods of the French youth, disappointed in the major political forces, however there is no classical political congregation behind him. En Marche! is not represented in the Assemblée Nationale – the parliament, so even elected, Macron would find himself in a difficulty to deal with the other experienced political forces like Republicans, Socialists, and now, very likely, the Front National. This difficulty would be only aggravated by his lack of experience in dealing with the French political system.

On contrary to En Marche! Marine Le Pen leads a solid and well-defined political force, with a comprehensive plan for governing  the country.  One of her strongest points is a programme of defeating terrorism through curbing mass-migration, ending the system of double citizenship, revoking French citizenship from involved in terrorism, etc.

Till now Macron did not explain how he is going to addressed the security concerns of the French citizens, while keeping open door policy. This is one of the multiple inconsistencies in his programme. In case he will not be unable to guarantee the security, and the terroristic acts will continue to devastate public life, the position of Marine Le Pen will be solidified, and she will continue to raise in ranks.

The  failure of a big experiment called ‘Emmanuel Macron’, will not resurrect the Republicans or Socialists, who had a chance to govern the country already, and in case of the Republicans for a long period of time, but bring the electorate to a conclusion, that the only political force that had not had a chance to show its capabilities to ‘save France’ is Front National.

In the next presidential election the frustration in ‘Macron experiment’ might lead to the necessity to continue the experimental way.  If French are so disappointed in politics that they turned to unjustified belief in a miracle of Macron ‘The Savor’, what will prevent them to put their trust in Marion Marechal Le Pen as ‘The Maid of Orleans’?..

Anna van Densky

France voting for the future

Marine Le Pen votes

France goes to the polls on Sunday for the first round of a dramatically polarized presidential election, crucial to the future of the European Union, and the destiny of the continent.

Nearly 47 million voters will choose between a pro-EU centrist newcomer breaking away from the incumbent Socialist government, a scandal-ridden veteran conservative eager to slash public spending, while accused in indulging himself in public funds spending for private gains, a far-left eurosceptic, exercising a classic repertoire to blame all the misery of the world to the rich, or France’s first woman president, promising a U-turn from globalism to nation-state.

The  latest polls indicated the two major contestants: Emmanuel Macron et Marine Le Pen, with a real battle promised at the second round of elections, while struggling to attract the electorate of the other candidates, fallen out of the race.

The rivary for the crown of the French ‘elected king/queen’ will be for the senior electorate, increasingly numerous in aging France. Remarkably seniors vote more than average,  and subsequently are over-represented among voters. The attraction of the older generation of the voters, who are characterized by specific political choices, will become a real challenge for both Le Pen and Macron. However it would not be easy for the latter, as the senior citizens have an inclination to vote a conservative political programme, and are closer to traditional values.

So far Marine Le Pen showed more understanding for the needs of the senior citizens; on the strong side of Macron  is contact with the youth, and diasporats/ immigration, especially from Muslim countries, who see in him a solid ally.

However any chosen candidate will face the  need to conquer the parliament –  Assemblée National, and the mega-challenge of dealing with French syndicates – powerful trade-unions, who keep under control economic development in the country, and the endeavours of  presidents, irrespective their political convictions.

Juncker “melancholic” on the EU future

US-ECONOMY-IMF-WORLDBANK-SPRINGMEETINGS

Launching a debate on the future of the European Union, and subsequently the entire continent, Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured) – the president of the European Commission – has offered Five scenarios (5S), however none of them even hinted on a ‘catastrophic’ one – the  case of French or/and Dutch citizens would follow #Brexit way.

The front-runner for the presidency of France, the member of the European Parliament (MEP), the leader of Front National party – Marine Le Pen has integrated #Frexit – the referendum on France’s membership in the EU, – into her political project. So did her Dutch counterpart the leader of Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) Geert Wilders, who is enjoying high esteem of the electorate, foreseeing strong presence of his party in the Parliament in The Hague after the upcoming 15th of March general elections, opening the way to #Nexit referendum.
It is not that as press we want you to say “bad things” about MEP Le Pen, as you suggest, Mr.Juncker, it is about your readiness to continue to lead the #EU26, or even  #25, if Dutch and French follow #Brexit, preferring freedom to the EU institutional cage, prescribing everything from shape of cucumbers to open door migration policies, flooding streets of European cities with strangers from the violent cultures. The policy of open doors so dear to the institutions you are not going to give up at any cost, disguising it in ‘solidarity’ – the fundamental EU virtue. More migrants, less believers in cultural relativism, nostalgic about the times ante-Schengen with well-protected borders…
However, some things have changed already. Most probably, the European Commission mandarins understood that it would be better for everyone, if they concentrate on ‘important’ issues, leaving the details to the member states – the ‘efficiency’ option nr 4 among the 5S plan? They understood it or, they do  it is because the ‘instinct of life’ dictated them to do so, hoping to survive the period of low tight?..
Too much disappointment has accumulated into a toxic mass: with the south of Europe in lethargic misery under austerity policy, and the industrial north of ‘lenders’ unable to develop as fast as they wished to, obliged to level their pace with all the other EU members in a ‘solidarity’ name. Is Juncker’s nr.3 ‘mulitspeed’ Europe an answer? Hardly so, as the creation of the sub-unions would lead to ‘structured dismissal’ of the initial EU bankrupt project – promising prosperity it lead to poverty too many; promising peace, it set its neighbourhoods in blaze…
Finally the EU scenario nr 5 – ‘Doing Much More Together’, but after #Brexit it sounds even more fiction, that four previous ones all together. How many believes in  the EU ‘togetherness’ one can count in the beginning of 2017?.. How numbered will they be by the end of the year after the elections in the member states? The Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy…
Juncker’s striking ‘melancholy’ look replacing his personal warmhearted and extrovert style did not escape the MEPs, questionning his personal beliefs, but the president has every reason for melancholy – the l’époc d’oré of the European project is bygone, and discussing the EU obsucure future is not a euphoric exercise, especially knowing that the 6th scenario cenzored:  ‘no future’.
(Initailly published in @BrusselsDiplomatic)