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Solidarity with all the Victims and their Loved Ones.

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To all the Victims and their Loved Ones.

London is the greatest city in the world, and we stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and our way of life.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said Londoners “will never be cowed by terrorism” following the attack in which five people died near the Houses of Parliament.

Some 40 people were injured when the attacker drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and crashed into railings outside the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday afternoon. A Metropolitan Police officer was one of those killed, as was the attacker.

Parliament Square and the surrounding area has been cordoned off since the incident, which began at about 2.40pm.

In a video message, Mr Khan said: “London is the greatest city in the world, and we stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and our way of life.

“We always have and we always will. Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.”

Independent.

Brussels, yesterday.

Belgium has marked the first anniversary of the Brussels airport and metro terror attacks which killed 32 people, including one man from Hartlepool.

Political leaders, victims and families all gathered in the Belgian capital for moments of silence, wreath laying and testimonies.

On March 22 last year, twin suicide bombers claimed the lives of 16 people at Brussels’ Zaventem airport, while a further 16 were the victims of an explosion at Maelbeek subway station.

More than 300 people overall were wounded in the attacks, for which so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility. During Tuesday’s memorial services, wreaths were laid outside of both attack sites, with the names of victims read out.

Airport and train staff, security, rescue personnel, as well as Belgium’s King Philippe were all in attendance for the solemn occasion.

During Tuesday’s memorial services, wreaths were laid outside of both attack sites, with the names of victims read out.

Airport and train staff, security, rescue personnel, as well as Belgium’s King Philippe were all in attendance for the solemn occasion.

Prime Minister of Belgium.

Shiraz Writes,

There was a time when no Islamist terror outrage was complete without an article published within a day or two, from Glenn Greenwald, Mehdi Hasan, Terry Eagleton or the undisputed master of the genre, Seamus Milne, putting it all down to “blowback”. Such articles usually also claimed that no-one else dared put forward the “blowback” explanation, and the author was really being terribly brave in doing so. No such articles have appeared for a few years (the last one I can recall was after the Charlie Hebdo attack), so here’s my idea of what such a piece would read like today: (see post...)

Written by Andrew Coates

March 23, 2017 at 10:59 am

The French Far Right and Génération Identitaire.

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Image result for l'extreme droit en france organigramme

“The Identitarian movement is a pan-European socio-political movement that started in France in 2002 as a far-right youth movement deriving from the French Nouvelle Droite Génération Identitaire. Initially the youth wing of the anti-immigrant, far-right Bloc Identitaire, it has taken on its own identity and is largely classified as a separate entity altogether with the intent of spreading across Europe. The Identitarian movement advocates rights for members of specific European ethnocultural groups.” Wikipedia.

Last Night Channel Four News Broadcast a report, which covers a small French grouping within the ‘identitarian movement”, Génération Identitaire. Thisas can be seen, are only part of a wider far-right. view it here (I was signaled this by Facebook friends, I missed the programme):

France’s far-right youth movement emerging from the shadows

JONATHAN RUGMAN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Marine Le Pen’s far right Front National party is reckoned to be the most popular amongst young people, with as many as 40% of 18 to 24 year olds backing her. Now a far-right youth movement is emerging from the shadows. It is called Generation Identitaire and it’s proposing controversial solutions to France’s social problems.

They also interviewed  Renaud Camus whose views on the “grand remplacement“, that is the replacement of the European Population by non-Europeans, has its roots in conspiracy theories that claim this is an organised process by “élites politiques, intellectuelles et médiatiques”.

There was no reference to the mountains of  criticisms that have been made of Camus’ ‘thesis’: from Hervé Le Bras onwards (see: here).

Génération Identitaire  claims to be the barricade raised by young people to struggle for their identity, the vanguard of youth.

The wider Bloc Identitaire has around 2,000 members, and 600 activists.  Génération Identitaire has a lot less, in the low hundreds.

The use of the term “identity”,  is both a reflection of the confusion of ‘identity politics”(if every group has to go back to its roots, why not the ‘French’?), and the long-standing opportunism of the French Far-right, which trawls through every possible popular theme in order to appeal to a potential audience, and never forgets to add an intellectual gloss to its propaganda.

Thus we have “nationalisme révolutionnaire“, groups which refer to, amongst others, Blanqui, Proudon, Sorel, Gregor and Otto Strasser, nad have admired, at various time, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Iranian strong man Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We also have, probably the biggest confusionist site of them all, Égalité et Réconciliation, which claims to stand for the Left on Work and the Right on Values is opposed to globalisation, and pitches much of its appeal to ‘an ‘anti-Zionist’ constituency. It is closely linked to the anti-Semite, Dieudonné.

This is their coming meeting:

The Front National’s appeal to the Sovereignty of the Nation is also intended to extend across classes and politics, and has succeeded in drawing in some (formerly  ‘left-wing’)  sovereigntists who agree that France must stand against the EU, Globalisation and Cosmopolitanism.

The report talked of young people’s support for the far-right.

This is a problem, though it is channeled into voting for the Front National rather than the groupuscles like GI.

Poll, 9.03.2017, people between 18 and 34 (Slate)

In examining these figures Jean-Laurent Cassely suggests that while young people generally have more liberal values than their elders, for the minority who do not hold them, the FN is appealing. That while there are fewer and fewer conservative voters those that are have moved further to the right, and that those too young to have memories of Marine Le Pen’s openly extreme father, Jean-Marie, are more inclined to cast their ballots for the FN.

Others look to the correlation between youth unemployment and support for the far-right.

The poll does show however that the total of young people backing left candidates, collected together, stands at …40%!

With 24% supporting the ‘centre’ Macron.

Channel Four mentioned protests against  Génération Identitaire‘s  Lille operation, but did not cover their ampleur, nor just how widely this was reported.

The far right group planned to open a bar to act as its headquarters in the northern city of Lille on 24 September 2016. Located just 200 metres from the Grand Palais, it will contain a boxing gym, a cinema a level advice centre, and a library. Aurélien Verhassel, the group’s local leader, said it would open only to ‘Europeans of French spirit, heirs to the Helleno-Christian civilisation’. Locals launched a petition to block the bar, called La Citadelle, citing concern that it ‘will propagate hate and cause incidents that are beyond control’.[15]

The petition had gathered more than 60,000 signatures by the 24th, but the Citadelle’s inauguration went ahead as planned with 30 members of the group present. Around 500 protesters, many of them supporters of the far-Left, marched behind banners with slogans such as ‘No fascists in our districts’ in an attempt to stop the bar’s official opening on the evening of the 24th.

In November 2016, demonstrations against the bar were still taking place. On the 19th, protesters had gathered between 600 and 1,200 people in the streets and 70,000 signatures against the bar on their online petition.

Wikipedia.

More simply: A Lille, des centaines de personnes réclament la fermeture du bar d’extrême-droite La Citadelle. Le Monde.

The Channel Four reporter’s reference to “tous les mosques” instead of toutes le Mosques, suggests an imperfect acquaintance with French.

There are, as the organigramme of the French far-right (above) indicates, many many groups, and this is just one, a marginal one.

The Boradcaster did not contrast the couple of thousand strong identitaire demonstration they showed with the over 100,000 moblised in Paris this Sunday by La France insoumise or the over 20,000 who attended the rally for Socialist Presidential candidate  Benoît Hamon.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 22, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Pakistan Asks Facebook to Track Down ‘Blasphemers’.

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Image result for pakistan blasphemy protests

“Enemies of Humanity” Says Pakistan Interior Minister.

Radio Pakistan ‘reports’:

NISAR VOWS TO BLOCK  BLASPHEMOUS CONTENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Interior Minister asks Facebook administration to cooperate in removal and blocking of the blasphemous contents.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan says those responsible for blasphemy will be dealt with an iron hand.

Talking to media after inaugurating citizen facilitation center in Islamabad on Thursday, he said the culprits of blasphemy are enemies of humanity.He said that we have asked Facebook administration to cooperate in removal and blocking of the blasphemous contents.

 The Interior Minister said that government is making all out efforts to block blasphemous material on social media. He said eleven people who commented on such posts are being interrogated.

He urged all Muslims countries to practice unity against sordid conspiracies against Islam as the matter of blasphemy hurts feelings of all Muslims.

He said the government will take strict action against blasphemous contents and will avail all the possible options.

The Minister said that cooperation from the US Administration is also being sought through US embassy in Pakistan in this regard.

He urged the international community to have immense consultations on the issue of blasphemy as it has become a critical matter for the world.

He said ridiculing a religion in the name of freedom of expression will not be allowed

Al Jazeera reports,

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistani authorities have contacted social media website Facebook for help in investigating the posting of “blasphemous content” on the platform by Pakistanis, according to a statement.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan. Insulting the Prophet Muhammad carries a judicial death sentence and, increasingly commonly, the threat of extrajudicial murder by right-wing vigilantes.

At least 68 people have been killed in connection with blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to a tally maintained by Al Jazeera.

“There have been positive developments in the matter of the Pakistani government’s contact with Facebook’s management regarding the blocking of blasphemous content,” an interior ministry spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.

Facebook would be sending a representative to visit Pakistan with regard to the matter, the statement said, and the government has appointed an official to liaise directly with the social networking website regarding the censoring of certain content.

In a statement quoted by the AP news agency, Facebook said it viewed government requests with care keeping in mind “the goal of protecting the privacy and rights of our users”.

The move comes after Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, ordered a ban on all online content deemed to be “blasphemous” on Tuesday.

“Ridiculing a religion in the name of freedom of expression should not be allowed,” Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s interior minister, said on Thursday.

11 People under Threat.

Khan is spearheading the government’s efforts to have the material blocked.

Eleven people have been identified as having posted “blasphemous” comments or material on Facebook and will be acted against, the minister said. The identities of the 11 people in question were not immediately clear.

The authorities’ move comes after a senior judge at the Islamabad High Court called upon the government to block all blasphemous content online, “even at the cost of blocking entire social media”.

The petition at the High Court accuses five rights activists who were abducted in early January of running Facebook pages that had posted content deemed to be blasphemous.

No evidence has been shared directly linking the five activists to the Facebook pages in question, but during their three-week disappearance the men were the subject of a vast social media campaign accusing them of blasphemy.

“There is overwhelming evidence that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws violate human rights and encourage people to take the law into their own hands.

Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.”

Amnesty: Pakistan: How the blasphemy laws enable abuse.

Al Jazeera continues,

Pakistan’s telecommunications regulator currently blocks hundreds of websites, including those run by ethnic Baloch dissidents, as well as sites containing pornography or material deemed to be blasphemous.

It is empowered under a 2016 law to block any content “if it considers it necessary in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, public order, decency or morality”.

In January 2016, Pakistan ended a three-year ban on video-sharing website YouTube, also over blasphemous content, after the content provider agreed to launch a localised version that would streamline the process for content to be censored for viewers in Pakistan.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeeras Web Correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 17, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Front National: Back to Holocaust Denial.

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Image result for front national mort aux bougnoules

Unconvincing ‘anti-racist’ makeover of Front National.

As part of its modernisation the far-right Front National, at present topping polls for the first round of the French Presidential elections but slipping fast, claimed to have dropped any association with anti-Semitism, and all forms of race hate.

Today  a spanner was put in the well-oiled works of Marine Le Pen’s party.

Un conseiller régional du FN suspendu pour avoir tenu des propos négationnistes.

The documentary, filmed, like revelations in UK parties, undercover, showed Benoît Loeuillet, head of the FN in Nice, casting doubt of the number of deaths in the Shoah, and citing the negationist “Leuchter report” associated with Holocaust denier M. Faurisson. The councillor declared, “Il n’y a pas eu de morts de masse comme ça a été dit” there were not the mass deaths as has been said.

The film, to be broadcast tonight, is also revealing about the pervasive racism inside the FN  something that English language reports on this  have so far not explored Another councillor, Philippe Vardon, is shown complaining that all the people he shakes hands with are blacks (“Ça commence à être inquiétant : tous les mecs qui me serrent la main, ils sont noirs”). (le Monde)

The message is that not only is Holocuast denial far from extinct within the FN but that close links with the cultural racist “identitaires” movement is at the heart of the far-right party.

Guardian report: France’s Front National suspends party official over Holocaust denial.

France’s far-right Front National has suspended a party official for Holocaust denial after he suggested there was no mass killing in the Nazi concentration camps.

Benoît Loeuillet, head of the FN in Nice, was secretly filmed making the comments, which will be broadcast in a documentary. “I don’t think there were that many deaths … during the Shoah,” he is heard saying.

Jean-Marie Le Pen fined again for dismissing Holocaust as ‘detail’

Asked by the journalist filming him about Holocaust deniers, Loeuillet, said: “I don’t really know what to think. It’s complicated … there weren’t 6 million [deaths]. There weren’t mass deaths as we’ve been told.”

The film-makers, from TV Press Productions, had asked to follow the FN in the Alpes-Maritimes region earlier this year to understand why so many young voters support the far-right party led by Marine Le Pen, a frontrunner for the first round of France’s presidential election at the end of April.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 15, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Dutch Elections: No Breakthrough in Sight for anti-EU Socialistische Partij.

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Radical left Socialist Party remains stuck at 13-16%

Dutch elections: Polls open amid fears of far-right surge led by Geert Wilders’s PVV party

The focus of Wilders obviously dominates the news but we should also ask,  how are other parties and the left faring in Holland?

Tom Louwerse Leiden University summarises the position for the Dutch Left.

The 2017 Netherlands election: Polls suggest mid-sized parties are now the new norm in Dutch politics

On the left of the political spectrum, the Labour Party (PvdA) is the big loser. Its electoral decline started right after the 2012 elections in which they gained 24.8% of the vote. Within a year that was reduced to under 10% in the polls and it has remained at this relatively low level of support ever since, currently polling around 8%.

The other parties on the left seem unable to profit from this loss. The Socialist Party (SP) is the only opposition party that has not gained support compared to the last election, with the party polling around 8%. The Green Party (GL) is recovering from its poor 2012 showing: from around 2% then to around 9% now. Still, this is only a 7 percentage point increase, while the Labour Party has lost 17%.

Some of these votes seem to be going to the Democrats (D66), a ‘social-liberal’ centre party (currently at 10%), according to an analysis by Ipsos. And parties like 50PLUS (which targets the elderly), CDA and PVV also win over smaller numbers of former PvdA voters. But a sizeable share of 2012 PvdA-voters are now saying they will not vote or do not know who to vote for. Whether they will really stay at home or will eventually decide to vote for the PvdA anyway, might impact the size of the PvdA’s losses.

There is no clear front-runner on the left of the political spectrum. If such a party will emerge in the next few weeks, it might attract some strategic voters who would like to see at least one strong left-wing party that has a good chance of being part of the next government.”

A few years ago there were predictions that the Dutch Socialist Party, Socialistische Partij, was set to become a major political force in Holland. But, despite its hope in 2012 that the SP would overtake the Labour Party in the 2012 elections, what happened was ” the sudden collapse in support for the party during the final weeks of the campaign(for an overview see: The Dutch Elections and the Socialist Party. Daniel Finn. New Left Review. 77. 2012).

Despite the same  Labour Party (PvDA) now entering a prolonged crisis, with some predicting its marginalisation, the SP has not grown.

As Wikipedia states, “As of 2016 the ruling VVD-PvdA coalition has meant that the PvdA lost a huge part of its base. In the polls, the party currently stands at around 12 seats, losing 26, which has been a stable position for the last three years.[16] Despite that, the SP has gained little to nothing, remaining stable at around 16 seats in the same polls.”

From the site of the Dutch Socialist Party.

In terms of membership the SP, with more than 43.000 members, is the third biggest party in the Netherlands. Only the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Labour Party (PvdA) are bigger, but the gap is narrowing!

Members of the SP come from all walks of life. Factory workers and students, nurses and maintenance engineers, accountants and civil servants, school students and pensioners all work together in our party. Every member is part of a local branch and can participate in decision-making at branch meetings. Each branch chooses its own executive, nominates candidates for elected office and sends delegates to the Congress. On this basis the SP’s national organs – the Party Executive, the Party Council and the Congress – are also democratically elected and controlled.

The SP is represented at all levels in Dutch politics and in the European Parliament. We have fifteen Members in the 150-seat ‘Tweede Kamer’ (corresponding to the House of Commons or House of Representatives), eight in the Eerste Kamer (the Senate), two in the European Parliament and about 500 representatives on city and local councils and in provincial assemblies. The SP forms part of the local governing coalitions of forty municipalities, some of which belong to the largest Dutch municipalities. As of 2011 the SP also participates in governing coalitions in two of the Netherlands’ twelve provinces.

Participation in national government is considered only a matter of time.

The SP’s elected representatives donate their allowances to the party, and are reimbursed only for certain out-of-pocket, receipted costs. The surplus helps to cover the party’s activities. Representatives working for the party full time receive a modest professional salary.

Roemer: close door on ‘Sultan’ Erdoğan’s propaganda circus

In the view of SP leader Emile Roemer, there should be no place in the Netherlands for the bizarre propaganda circus that Turkish president Recep Erdoğan is touring around Europe in the runup to a referendum which may give him almost unlimited power.

Roemer argues that Erdoğan has been handled with kid gloves for far too long. “We have long tried to persuade the government that the talks over EU accession for Turkey should be suspended,” he recalls. “The fact that Erdoğan has no interest in the rule of law isn’t something that has only just emerged. He’s previously packed all of his prisons with journalists and even locked up elected representatives of the people.

“The last few days have shown us that the Turkish government is incapable of making agreements which you can trust. It’s audacious nonsense to insult the entire Netherlands while at the same time stoking up conflicts and turning people against the country in which they live, then calling on the principle of freedom of expression. That’s not how it works. Turkey should not be interfering in our domestic affairs. The situation is confirming what the SP has been saying for years, that we must be fully committed to combatting Ankara’s attempts to influence Dutch citizens.”

23 Jan 2017

Large-scale unregulated labour migration puts pressure on wages

The opening of the borders to central and eastern European (CEE) workers just a decade ago has led to labour market dislocation in the countries from which people have been attracted and repression, exploitation and underpayment in the Netherlands. The SP wants to see rogue temping agencies banned and work permits introduced for workers from CEE countries.

by Tijmen Lucie

The opening of the borders to central and eastern European (CEE) migrant workers has, particularly in sectors such as construction, horticulture, road transport and the food industry, led to repression and exploitation. Rogue temping agencies have had a free hand in putting people, especially those from central and eastern Europe, to work at low wages, using a number of dubious legal constructions. In this way worker is set against worker, wages are forced down and working conditions deteriorate.

The SP’s 10-point plan to combat oppression, exploitation and underpayment.

We halt at point 1.

  1. The Netherlands must take back control over who can come here from CEE countries to work. Free movement of workers must be scrapped. Employers should be required once again to apply for a permit if they wish to employ workers from CEE.

This stand has some history:

Dutch advance socialist case against immigration Nov 24, 2008 Neil Clark

Whether the SP’s present impasse is due to problems with the low level of labour movement activity, the “comparative dearth of social mobilization in recent years” (which like in the UK, has been in a downward spiral for some time),  the – unconvincing –  strategy of “revolutionary reformism”, and the impermeability of Dutch politics and civil society to radical left ideas,  as Finn (above) indicates, or that they’ve been sidelined by Wilders’ brand of national populism,  are matters for debate.

During the British EU Referendum the far-right Express reported,

Harry van Bommel, MP for Holland’s Socialist Party, told Express.co.uk: “If Britain leaves, that will give other countries courage.

“So now debate is beginning in the Netherlands about having a referendum on EU membership.

“We cannot go on the way we are – financing Greece, trying to keep countries in the eurozone. The eurozone will break up eventually.”

GHarry van Bommel says Brexit will give Holland ‘courage’

He added: “Because we’re in the euro, Dutch people see budget cuts, unemployment going up, and they relay that to the EU.

“Everyone knows the Commissioners in Brussels make €25,000 (£19,500) a month, yet pensions go down and the pension age goes up.

“These facts make the EU very unpopular. People distrust Europe and some people even hate Europe – it’s in an existential crisis.”

Van Bommel campaigns against a trade deal with Ukraine

Earlier this year the Netherlands overwhelmingly rejected a controversial EU proposal to remove trade barriers with Ukraine.

More than 61 per cent voted against the idea, with Dutch leader Mark Rutte admitting ratification of the treaty “cannot go ahead”.

But Eurocrats have ignored the result and claimed the deal will be adopted “very soon”, sparking a furious outcry from Eurosceptics.

What is clear now is that the SP’s anti-European Union and anti-migrant labour policies have been taken up, let’s just say (see last sentence), elsewhere.

The stagnation of the Dutch Socialist Party International Socialism. Issue: 151  22nd June 2016.Max van Lingen

Written by Andrew Coates

March 15, 2017 at 1:10 pm

France’s ex-PM Valls will neither endorse Macron nor his own party’s Hamon in Presidential Vote.

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Image result for valls caricature sur hamon

Bad Loser Valls Won’t Back Hamon.

Speculation is growing in France that the most reactionary section of the  of the French ‘republican’ right, frustrated by the scandals engulfing their candidate, François Fillon, are preparing to vote Marine Le Pen in the second round of the Presidential elections. Those involved in movements such as “Sens commun“, involved in the anti-gay marriage La Manif pour tous, are said to be preparing to break the “cordon sanitaire” that separates the extreme right Front National from the rest of the right.

The FN’s appeal to rally ” « patriotes » against « mondialistes », globalisers, has been like British support of Brexit, a call that, Le Monde observes today, aims to beak with the old division between ‘right’ and ‘left’ (Jean-Baptiste de Montvalon).

The possible breakthrough in backing for the racist right is just one of the reasons why there is pressure on centrists and social liberals to back Emmanuel Macron.

His own call, aimed at going ‘beyond’ left and right, to unite, “ progressistes » to face « conservateurs » has begun to eat into the right-wing of the Parti Socialiste.

This comes despite the warning that any Socialist who officially supports Macron will be expelled from the Party.


France 24  now reports,

Former French prime minister Manuel Valls is not ready to endorse a candidate in the country’s presidential race, after denying reports he intended to back centrist Emmanuel Macron and ruling out support for his rival, Socialist Benoît Hamon.

French daily Le Parisien published an article on Monday citing sources close to Valls as saying he would throw his weight behind Macron in the first round of voting on April 23.

“Manuel Valls will soon call on voters to support his former rival Emmanuel Macron, and this, from as early as the first round of the election,” the newspaper wrote.

But a number of those close to Valls dismissed the report as inaccurate, including his former parliamentary substitute, Carlos Da Silva. “This is false,” Da Silva wrote in a Twitter post linking to Le Parisien’s article.

Valls later confirmed to the AFP that he had “denied this information” through his entourage.

The former prime minister also ruled out the possibility of endorsing Hamon in an interview published by French magazine Paris Match on Tuesday morning. Valls dropped out of the race for the presidency in January after losing to Hamon in the left-wing primaries.

“I cannot lend my support to Benoît Hamon,” he told Paris Match. “Hamon doesn’t inspire interest.”

Valls expressed concern, however, that lack of support for both Macron and Hamon could pave the way to victory for National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen.

“If the FN [scores] high on the night of the first round, things can really finish badly,” he said.

Recent opinion polls show Macron as the front-runner in the election and that he will go on to defeat Le Pen in the second round of voting on May 7, while Hamon will be eliminated in the first round.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Cambadélis‘ warning notwithstanding this is a weasly way in which former French PM Manuel Valls, the loser in the French Socialists’ ‘Primary’ has announced his own public non-voting intentions.

It is now said that the initial claim was  ‘false news’. If it is not clear how ‘false’ the claim that he would back Marcon (Vrai-faux soutien de Valls à Macron: “Le Parisien” dément avoir été victime d’un canular) one party clearly is not helped by his statement: his own.

Here is the assertion that the news was a joke..

Followed by this, which is clearly not false.

Is the French Presidential Election Going Back to the 1930s?

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According to an opinion poll yesterday, one French person out of three supports the ideas of the Front National (Un Français sur trois en accord avec les idées du Front national). In survey after survey around 40% of workers who intend to vote back the FN. Amongst this “électorat populaire” 31% of those in council housing back the far-right, as do 30% of office employees. A majority of young people say they will vote for Marine le Pen (Here,there are many studies with roughly the same result).

With François Fillon clinging to his presidential ambitions, organising mass rallies of his remaining supporters, Le Monde has accused him of adopting a “populist” defence against all-comers, screaming about “political assassination” “lynching” and hinting at plots against him. He has talked of a “coup d’Etat des juges“.

Some are already drawing comparisons with the 1930s. The traditional political parties are discredited. As Laurent Joffrin writes in Libération, reviewing the book pictured above (“c’est le retour au terroir, aux traditions, à l’exaltation nationale qui l’emporte dans des opinions déboussolées.”) “with the loss of certainty,   it’s a return to the native soil, to tradition, to exalting the Nation…” that is carrying the day in public opinion.

It appears that there are parallels with the 1930s. Both are marked by nationalist propaganda, poverty and mass unemployment in the rich countries, doubts about values, intellectuals joining extreme parties, nostalgia for national grandeur, the simplistic slogans of populist agitators, and the phantom of a deathly spiral which is leading people to the abyss.

As Joffrin points out the comparison has its limits. France has experienced an unprecedented level of Jihadist violence. One only has to read Gilles Kepel’s La Fracture (2016) to see that  the brutal acts of Islamist terror   have reinforced  the far-right, from the Front National  to a host of linked “groupes identitaires.” But horrific as these atrocities are, from Charlie, the Hyper Cacher, Bataclan to Nice, passing by many other incidents, the degree of violence in Europe remains low. There is no Hitler, Mussolini or Stalin.

Think about it.

Nevertheless some are so swept up in the mood that they are calling for a vote for Emmanuel Macron to block the route to Marine Le Pen, from the first round of the Presidential election onwards. 

While the right of the Parti Socialiste may need little encouragement to back Marcon against their own party’s candidate  Benoît Hamon (Bertrand Delanoë l’annonce de son ralliement à Emmanuel Macronthis call from a prominent figure on the radical left and President of the important territorial coordinating structure next to  Paris, Plaine Commune is more surprising:

Patrick Braouezec : « Je voterai pour Emmanuel Macron »

Braouezec bases his decision on the need to unite against the right and the extreme right. He nevertheless asks people to cast their ballots for the Parti Communiste Français and the Front de gauche – and notably not Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s la France Insoumise – in the 1th and 18th legislative elections.

The language used recalls the first paragraphs of this post. This alliance of  all “progressives” is the only rampart against Barbarism. “le seul rempart à la barbarie »(/ Braouezec choisit Macron)

Patrick Braouezec is a former Communist (PCF) and Mayor of the famous Communist district (a city in its own right), just next to Paris, Saint Denis, from 1991 to 2004. He was often in conflict with his party’s leadership. As one of the dissident “”refondateurs he backed the Green candidacy of José Bové against his own party’s   Marie-George Buffet  in 2007. From 2010  he has been a supporter of the Front de Gauche (FG) initially as a member of the network,  Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique.

Described in the past, by the unimpressed on his own side, as “incontrôlable” Braouezec is still well-regarded enough to maintain, as noted, an important elected position.

This is one possible result of the Pro-Macron moves:

Harris Interactive poll shows Macron one percentage point ahead of National Front’s Marine Le Pen in the first round.

Update: Socialist Party activists call for elected members of the party who back Macron to give up their membership.

Another issue is the predicted record abstention: