Archive for the ‘French Politics’ Category
French Far-Right Hesitates between Marine le Pen and François Fillon.
France 24 reports,
By overwhelmingly backing former prime minister François Fillon, voters in the primary held by France’s centre-right on Sunday opted for an economically liberal, socially conservative candidate whose vision for France leaves little ambiguity.
Any hope rival primary candidate Alain Juppé had of springing a surprise in the Les Républicains party run-off vote failed to come to fruition, with Fillon taking some 66.5 percent of the vote. If Fillon’s strong performance in the first round of voting could be in part attributed to voters merely wanting to shut out Nicolas Sarkozy, his landslide victory over Juppé on Sunday left little room for doubt: Fillon’s firmly right-wing platform had won the firm backing of the conservative electorate.
The “fight between one project and another”, as the more moderate, centrist Juppé had called his showdown with Fillon, had been decided. Despite attacks by Juppé between the two rounds of voting that had depicted him as both “ultra conservative” and “ultra liberal” economically, Fillon had clearly prevailed.
The Guardian columnist Angelique Chrisafis comments,
The Front National leader has reason to fear the Republican candidate, whose views overlap with some of her key ideas.
The Front National has reason to fear Fillon. His traditionalist and socially conservative line on family values and “the Christian roots of France”, his emphasis on French national identity, “sovereignty” and “patriotism”, his hard line on immigration and Islam as well as a pro-Putin foreign agenda against “American imperialism” all overlap with some of Le Pen’s key ideas.
This could potentially see Fillon steal some of Le Pen’s most socially conservative voters, particularly rightwing elderly people, who always have a big turnout to vote but remain sceptical about the Front National.
“Fillon presents us with a strategy problem, he’s the most dangerous [candidate] for the Front National,” Marion Maréchal Le Pen, the Catholic and socially conservative Front National MP and niece of Marine Le Pen, told journalists this week.
Despite Fillon’s hardline rightwing stances, he is not a populist. “He’s closer to [the former British prime minister] David Cameron than [the Ukip leader] Nigel Farage,” said Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the French far right.
This leaves Le Pen a wide margin in which to go for Fillon’s jugular as she fights a campaign centred on “the people versus the elite”. The Front National has already begun attacking Fillon as a snobbish, political has-been. It argues thatFillon, as Nicolas Sarkozy’s prime minister, was responsible for the failures of the Sarkozy era and cares more about the rich, globalised elite than the working class who have faced decades of mass unemployment.
The battle will largely focus on economic policy. Fillon has promised a “radical shock” for France with free-market reform, major cuts to public sector jobs and reducing public spending. Le Pen claims to represent the “forgotten” French underclass and has an economic line that is essentially leftwing: she is anti-globalisation and favours protectionism and state intervention. Le Pen’s campaign director, David Rachline, has called Fillon’s programme “economically insane” for wanting to slash 500,000 public sector jobs.
Le Pen’s advisers believe Fillon will struggle to appeal to the lower middle class and working class voters who are afraid of losing their jobs. The Front National has slammed Fillon as a symbol of lawless, ultra-free market, globalised capitalism. Fillon, in return, says Le Pen’s economic project is simply “a cut and paste of the extreme left”.
Some on the French far-right are already moving towards backing Fillon (Le conservatisme affiché de François Fillon séduit à l’extrême droite).
Has the French left any chance?
The Socialists continue to hover between indecision and hesitancy.
This weekend the French Communist Party (PCF) voted to back Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Presidential bid (Finalement, les communistes soutiennent… Mélenchon. Libération). They supported his candidacy under the banner of la France insoumise by a slim, at 53,6% for, majority. It is obvious that there was little chance of a the Communists being able to launch their own Presidential challenge. The Party announced its intention of launching their own campaign in support his proposals against austerity. They do not intend to give him ‘carte blanche’ (un blanc-seing).
This follows the decision of the other component of the (now effectively defunct) Front de gauche, Ensemble, to back Mélenchon, Communiqué du Collectif National d’Ensemble des 19 et 20 novembre 2016)
That Mélenchon looks potentially capable of beating a Socialist candidate into fourth place no doubt counts in his favour – although no poll gives him a chance of getting to the run-off.
The reasons for the PCF’s reservations – shared no doubt by many in Ensemble, are not hard to find. Beginning with the personality of the Man of Destiny.
We nevertheless cite a major source of difference which, given the importance of the issue of immigration in the coming contest, will no doubt grow in importance
Philippe Marlière has noted (Guardian),
Despite a steady increase in Euroscepticism in France, the underlying principle of free movement of people across the EU remains broadly undisputed. Apart from in one telling area. There is growing evidence of opposition towards EU migrants and the notion of freedom in what has become known as “social dumping”. This relates to “posted workers”, employees sent by their employer to carry out a service in another EU member state on a temporary basis. Those EU workers do not integrate in the labour market in which they work.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an MEP, a presidential candidate in 2012 and running again in 2017, has singled out posted workers in a speech at the European parliament last July. He declared that “posted workers took the bread out of French workers’ mouths”. Part of the French left was stunned by words that could have easily been uttered by Marine Le Pen.
Meanwhile Jean-Luc Mélenchon has insulted yet another section of the left. He has attacked the journalist and Latin American specialist Paulo Paranagua with a series of allegations about his political past in Argentina. The journalist, the Presidential hopeful raved, had been objectively Muse of the CIA – no doubt the reason he was captured and tortured for his association with armed resistance to the 1970s military regimes of the time. Paranagua was only released from an Argentinian gaol and deported to France after an international campaign in his defence.
A protest at these slanders has been launched: “Nous n’acceptons pas de voir notre passé commun insulté par J.L. Mélenchon“. Signatures include Alain Krivine..
Update, Post Primary Opinion Poll:
None of the left gets more than 13% in opinion polls, Fillon, 26% Marine Le Pen (24%) Emmanuel Macron – Centre (14%) et Jean-Luc Mélenchon (13%), t François Hollande9%, François Bayrou, Centre, à 6%. Ecologists Yannick Jadot and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan 3% Far-left Nathalie Arthaud et Philippe Poutou 1% – poll today l’Express.
It is not often that we publish news on Ipswich Tory Party.
MP Ben Gummer spends his time these days in a happy daze:
It is an exciting time to be in our town, and a privilege for me to serve this glorious constituency as it grasps a better future with both hands.
But all is not well in the Ipswich Conservative Association..
Leading activist, former Tory council candidate, and Brexit supporter, Kevin Algar, the Terror of Saint Jude’s, is now backing Marine Le Pen for French President.
He comments on Facebook today, “She will win, the EU will collapse and the people of Europe shall be free.”
According to well-established rumour Kev, as his friends don’t call him, plans to hold a Suffolk victory party for the Front National.
This was his last celebration, (via East Anglia’s Premier Political Blog) ” Congratulations to US President elect Donald Trump.”
Pollsters Deny Not Having Foreseen Fillon’s Win.
Sarkozy’s comeback in tatters as he’s knocked out of French presidential primary
Reports France 24.
Nicolas Sarkozy, whose dream of a triumphant return to the French presidency was destroyed at the first hurdle Sunday, failed to shake off a reputation as one of the country’s most divisive figures.
With tough talk on immigration, security and national identity, the 61-year-old tried to woo voters tempted by the far-right National Front with an unabashedly populist campaign.
But the man known universally in France as “Sarko” was humiliated in the rightwing’s first ever primary, finishing third behind the man who served as his prime minister, Francois Fillon, and another ex-premier, Alain Juppe.“I have no bitterness, I have no sadness, and I wish the best for my country,” Sarkozy said in a dignified concession speech.
Sarkozy tried to bury the “bling-bling” image of his 2007-12 presidency by casting himself as a defender of the “down-and-outs against the elites”.
Spare a minute, or an hour, for celebration as we pop open the Leffe.
The great man’s supporters took his defeat calmly. At his HQ they shouted, “it’s the fault of the left” (recycling the claim that left-wingers joined in the primary to vote against their candidate) and added, “you journalists are traitors to France”. (Libération. Au QG de Sarkozy: c’est la gauche qui est «coupable»).
Sarkozy is now, more than ever, embroiled in scandal as these cases remain to haunt him.
A host of legal troubles failed to deter Sarkozy’s bid to take care of what he considered unfinished business.
He became the first former head of state to be taken into custody for questioning when he was charged with corruption, influence peddling and violation of legal secrecy in July 2014.
In what is potentially the most damaging case, he is accused of conspiring with his lawyer to give a magistrate a lucrative job in exchange for inside information on a different corruption probe against him, in conversations on a secret phone registered under an assumed name.
5 July 2010, following its investigations on the Bettencourt affair, online newspaper Mediapart ran an article in which Claire Thibout, a former accountant of billionairess Liliane Bettencourt, accused Sarkozy and Eric Woerth of receiving illegal campaign donations in 2007, in cash.
On 1 July 2014 Sarkozy was detained for questioning by police over claims he had promised a prestigious role in Monaco to a high-ranking judge, Gilbert Azibert, in exchange for information about the investigation into alleged illegal campaign funding. Mr Azibert, one of the most senior judges at the Court of Appeal, was called in for questioning on 30 June 2014. It is believed to be the first time a former French president has been held in police custody, although his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty of embezzlement and breach of trust while he was mayor of Paris and given a suspended prison sentence in 2011. After 15 hours in police custody, Sarkozy was put under official investigation for “active corruption”, “misuse of influence” and “obtained through a breach of professional secrecy” on 2 July 2014. Mr Azibert and Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, are also now under official investigation. The two accusations carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison. The developments are seen as a blow to Sarkozy’s attempts to challenge for the presidency in 2017.
On 16 February 2016, Sarkozy was indicted on “illegal financing of political campaign” charges related to overspending in his 2012 presidential campaign and retained as witness in connection with the Bygmalion scandal.
In April 2016, Arnaud Claude, former law partner of Sarkozy, has been named in the Panama Papers.
A large shelf of books exists on this subject.
But they look now like the concern of specialists. Or gloaters…..
Now what of the actual result?
These are the figures at the moment (final result later today) ; François Fillon 44,1%, Alain Juppé, 28,6% et Nicolas Sarkozy 20,6%.
Former PM – under Sarkozy’s Presidency, with whom he did not enjoy an always easy rapport – (2007 – 2012) Fillon emerged as a front-runner only in the last few days. It was initially far from a landslide lead. (1)
Now he has swept his opponents aside.
French papers talk of his organised support amongst Catholic right-wingers (catholiques conservateurs, including the overtly anti=-gay, Sens commun, ): he is ‘pro-family’ and (….)opposed to the right of gay couples to adopt children and to have access to artificial procreation (Loi Taubira) and is strongly in favour of opening new ‘private’, that is, Catholic and religious, schools. Fillion is tough on some aspects of immigration, without singling out (in contrast to Sarkozy) any particularly group. On Islam He stands for a big cut in the number of public employees and state spending, as well as measures to increase the working week (continuing his efforts as PM), and ‘free’ up labour laws.
As a conservative (values) and a liberal (economy) Fillon appeals to the widest possible constituency of the right. (le Monde) He is said to have appeared au dessus de la mêlée. Crudely he lacks the hysteria of Sarkozy’s campaign, which became known for the former President’s remarks against not only ‘elites’ but Muslims.
Fillon is also said to enjoy good relations with Russia’s President Putin….( François Fillon et son ami Poutine).
What of the former favourite?
Alain Juppé (71 years old), has a past.
In November/December 1995, as Prime Minister his plan for Welfare State reform caused the biggest social conflict since May 68 and, under duress, abandoned it. He became the most unpopular Prime Minister of the Fifth Republic. ” Juppé has his own – conviction – for corruption, “n 2004, Alain Juppé was tried for the felony of abuse of public funds, when he was head of the RPR and the RPR illegally used personnel provided by the City of Paris for running its operations. He was convicted and sentenced to an 18-month suspended jail sentence, the deprivation of civic rights for five years, and the deprivation of the right to run for political office for 10 years. He appealed the decision, whereupon his disqualification from holding elected office was reduced to one year and the suspended sentence cut to 14 months.
That said, his slogan of l’identité heureuse, (taken as a contrast to France’s answer to Melanie Phillip’s, Alain Finkielkraut’s rant, L’identité malheureuse, 2013 – it is truly dire.) was a welcome stand in favour of tolerance towards religious and ethnic minorities. This morning Juppé’s supporters were claiming that there had been a sustained social media campaign against him alleging that he has close links with ‘Islamists.’
Juppé still intends to go to the second round on the 27th of November.
Meanwhile the French left still looks as if it is going nowhere.
(1) L’ultime enquête réalisée par Ipsos pour Le Monde, vendredi 18 novembre et publiée sur notre site Web, au lendemain du dernier débat, donnait pour la première fois le député de Paris en tête (30 %) devant Alain Juppé et Nicolas Sarkozy, tous les deux à 29 %. On était encore loin du scénario du raz-de-marée de dimanche soir. le Monde.
Protest at le Pen Interview.
The BBC reports.
France’s far-right leader has told the BBC that Donald Trump’s victory in the US has boosted her own chances of being elected president next year.
Marine Le Pen, who leads the French National Front (FN), said Mr Trump had “made possible what had previously been presented as impossible”.
She is widely expected to reach the second round of the election in May.
Ms Le Pen also held up Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule as model of “reasoned protectionism”.
Her Eurosceptic, anti-immigration party took more than 27% of the vote in regional elections last December but did not get control of any region because mainstream parties worked together to defeat it.
Analysts expect other parties to again rally behind her opponent in the presidential ballot, if she does reach the run-off.
These points stuck out from the broadcast interview (available here).
Welcoming Trump’s elections as part of the emergence of a new world replacing the old order Marine Le Pen claimed it was above all the victory of the People against the Elites and a sign of the emergence of new patriotic movements attached the Nation.
Citing the French refusal of a European constitution (2005 European Referendum, 55% of voters rejecting the treaty on a turnout of 69%), and Brexit, in the light of the Trump win, the leader of the Front National asserted that these were signs that all elections were now becoming referendums against unfettered globalisation.
She asserted that Trump’s triumph made her own advance possible.
Le Pen stated that next April and May two round French Presidential election would offer a decisive choice,of ‘civilisation’ (that is, a whole political and cultural model). This would be between ‘multiculturalism’ on the “anglo saxon” model, in which Islamist fundamentalism is growing, inside a ‘region’ administered by technocrats from the EU, or, by contrast, an opportunity to choose for the creation of an independent nation.
This interview was not welcomed by everybody:
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front, is to appear on the BBC’s ‘Andrew Marr Show’, according to an announcement by the program’s editor – and social media users are not happy about it.
Already facing criticism for airing the interview on Remembrance Sunday, editor of the show Rob Burley along with presenter Marr defended the move.
BBC defends decision to air interview with Marine Le Pen on Remembrance Sunday
Critics said it was ‘inappropriate’ to give Front National’s Le Pen ‘a platform for fascism’.
We note that le Monde refuses to publish Le Pen’s ‘opinion pieces’ but only objective analyses of her actions and ideology ( Prendre Marine Le Pen aux mots; Pourquoi « Le Monde » ne publie pas de tribune de Marine Le Pen mais choisit de décortiquer en détail sa doctrine politique, pour mettre en lumière ses non-dits. October 2016).
The Independent says,
The leader of France’s far right National Front has said there is not a “hair’s breadth” between it and Ukip.
Marine Le Pen said it was “ridiculous” for Nigel Farage and others in Ukip to pretend otherwise.
Pressed on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show about why Ukip refuses to associate itself with the National Front, Ms Le Pen said: “Sorry, no, but objectively, there is, on the topic of immigration and the European Union, there is not a hair’s breadth of difference between what Ukip thinks and what the National Front thinks, let’s be truthful here.
“Maybe Ukip is trying to counter the demonisation they are victim of by saying ‘we are the good guys and the National Front are the bad guys’, they can do so, but I don’t feel obliged to follow this strategy, because, frankly, I feel it’s a little bit ridiculous. “
Ms Le Pen, who has led a number of polls ahead of next spring’s French presidential election, denied that her party is racist, claiming that was a charge from the “elites”.
The far right leader claimed that the rise of nationalism across Europe was not a mirror of the 1930s.
“What doesn’t work is when you impose the same drugs on everyone, when clearly, if you will, the different countries are not suffering from the same disease, or that you want everyone to wear the same suit, but the suit will be too small and too big for everyone, except possibly for Germany, as they tailored it.”
Ms Le Pen predicted her election as French president next year will be the third act of a “global revolution” which has seen Brexit and Donald Trump’s seizure of the White House shake the world.
The National Front lender defended her party borrowing money from Russian banks as she praised Vladimir Putin.
She said his model of politics is “one of reasoned protectionism, looking after the interests of his country, defending his identity”.
Ms Le Pen blamed the EU and US for destabilising Europe and behaving aggressively towards Russia.
Much has been made of Marine Le Pen’s stand on Islam.
Her latest campaign however is against uncontrolled immigration, ‘privileged’ migrants and asylum seekers which clearly resembles said UKIP and its fellow travellers in the British media (Les intox du FN sur les « privilèges » des migrants face aux Français).
No opinion poll gives Marine Le Pen a chance of becoming French President – yet.
2017 Nightmare: Presidents Le Pen, Trump and Putin (Financial Times).
The far-right British ‘newspaper’, the Daily Express, asserts,
DONALD Trump’s election and Britain’s Brexit have paved the way for Marine Le Pen’s Front National to win the French election.
Immediately after Trump was declared the 45th president of the USA Le Pen said: “Nothing is immutable. What has happened this night is not the end of the world, it’s the end of a world.”
And Le Pen’s chief strategist, Florian Philippot, tweeted: “Their world is collapsing, ours is being built.”
Like Trump Ms Le Pen is a populist nationalist and a right wing political outsider. They have similar views on immigration.
Le Pen, 48, was one of the first French politicians to react to Trump’s stunning victory.
“Congratulations to the new president of the United States Donald Trump and to the free American people!” she said.
Marine Le Pen outlined the real parallels between her Party’s programme and Trump’s. They are not, centrally, a ‘tough’ stand on immigration, but concern the assertion of national political and economic ‘sovereignty’ against ‘globalisation’.
In her brief remarks, Le Pen said a Trump White House would assure that the sweeping Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU would be rejected.
She added that “more generally, wild globalisation” would be tamed, and she predicted that international relations would improve, “notably with Russia”.
Le Pen said Trump would rein in “the warlike interventions that are the source of the huge migratory waves that we are enduring”.
If Trump keeps to his pledges, they will be “beneficial for France,” she said.
Libération notes in that Marine Le Pen’s hopes to imitate Trump may not work out. (Marine Le Pen espère imiter Trump en 2017)
In moving from a position of saying “anybody but Hillary Clinton” (Tout sauf Hillary Clinton) to her present enthusiasm the Front National has to confront one fact: in polls before the US election 86% of French people preferred Clinton to Trump.
The Trump triumph has weighed heavily on the minds and speeches of other contenders for next year’s French Presidential election.
Today’s Le Monde reports that, « Ce qui est possible aux Etats-Unis est possible en France » – what is possible in the US is possible in France, said, Jacques Chirac’ former Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin. (Quand Trump pèse sur la présidentielle française)
President Hollande began by stating that this election has created a period of great “uncertainty”.
Right-wing socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls has judged that Trump’s victory shows the need for borders (le besoin de frontières) regulating immigration (réguler l’immigration) and the need, as well, to better distributed wealth and to protect the middle classes who are worried about their declining social position (Le besoin aussi de mieux distribuer les richesses, le besoin de protection pour les classes moyennes qui vivent ce sentiment de déclassement) (Le Monde).
The National Secretary of the Socialist Party, and former Trotskyist Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, states,
« Le national populisme plus ou moins xénophobe hante le monde occidental avec sa peur du déclassement, du remplacement et du métissage. Orban, Brexit, l’AfD en Allemagne, et maintenant Trump ! La gauche française est prévenue : elle continue ses enfantillages irresponsables et c’est Le Pen. »
National Populism, more less xenophobic, is haunting the Western world, with its fear of losing class and racial mixing. Orban, Brexit, the German Afd, and now Trump! The French left has been warned: if it continues its infantile disorder (Note: my translation, others put this as ‘irresponsible squabbling’), it will let Pen in.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign is particularly noted for trying to climb on the Trump bandwagon.
Sarkozy, Trump, même combat contre la «pensée unique» (Libération).
Sarkozy’s campaigners claim to be against the liberal multicultural ‘elite’, the ‘correct’ way of thinking, for a firm control of immigration, heightened security against terrorist threats, and to be the spokesperson for the ‘silent majority’ (majorité silencieuse ). The link with Trump does however suffer from the fact that as long ago as ….March this year he dismissed the would-be Presient as without interest marked by “populisme” and “vulgarité”.
Sarkozy is, despite his ‘defence’ of the Nation and hostility to immigration, not opposed to Globalisation, or in favour of protectionism, or wishes France to have its own ‘Frexit’. and leave the EU.
He is also trailing in the polls behind the more centrist Alain Juppé to become the French right’s presidential candidate in 2017.
To return to the FN: Marine Le Pen is not given to making the same relentless torrent of outrageous sexist, racist remarks, mixed up with sheer stupidity as Trump.
As France 24 also observes,
Le Pen is continuing her drive to sanitise the FN’s image.
Gone is the overt anti-Semitism and race-baiting of the past — her rhetoric on Muslims and migrants is softer yet still resonates in a country and on a continent reeling from an unprecedented terror threat and the Syrian crisis.
But she cannot escape her father’s embarrassing comments that the Nazi gas chambers are a “detail of history” and her party’s pledge to pull France out of the euro has drawn scorn from economists.
The FN has blamed the EU for much of France’s ills and pushed for a “Frexit” referendum on France’s EU membership.
Last year, the party topped the poll in regional elections with 28 percent.
Although Marine Le Pen has certainly won a lot of attention after the Trump result (TRUMP : L’ONDE DE CHOC PROFITE À MARINE LE PEN) opinion polls have yet to register a change in her rating, between 26 to 30 %.
The prospect of a defeat in the Second Round of the Presidential election next May remains, for the moment, probable.