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French Socialist Party Splits: Emmanuel Maurel and his left leave.

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Looking towards Mélenchon on “l’immigration” and “la question des frontières.”

This Friday France’s Parti Socialiste, (PS)  which until 2017 under President François Hollande had a working majority in the country’s Parliament, left his historic HQ in the  rue de Solférino near to the National Assembly for more modest premises just outside Paris in Ivry-sur-Seine.

In 2017  their candidate for the French Presidential election, Benoît Hamon, came 5th and won a tiny,  6,36% of the vote. Both before and after the contest a whole swathe of Socialists joined the victor, now President, Emmanuel  Macron’s La République En Marche.  In the legislative elections of that followed they had got only 7,5% of the national ballots, and 30 MPs.

Hamon left the PS and created his own, radical green left  movement, Génération.s.

The former Prime Minister Manuel Valls  went so far as to leave France and  is now seeking office in Barcelona.

The present Macron PM, Edouard Philippe’s Cabinet counts a number of  one time Socialist party figures, , such as the Minister of foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, although the former PS Minister of the Interior, Gérard Collomb, has recently reigned.

Only  37 000 members (out of the already shrunken 42,300)  took part in the vote for this year’s Parti Socialiste Congress.

Under their present General Secretary, Olivier Faure, the PS been unable to define a new strategy to fight back into a position of influence on the French left.

Now the face a new challenge.

The  organisation has haemorrhaged again with the break away of one of their left-wing leaders, the MEP  Emmanuel Maurel  who ran the party current, Maintenant La Gauche which obtained 18.8% of the the ballots in internal PS elections earlier this year.

Emmanuel Maurel : « Ce n’est pas un départ du PS, c’est une scission » reports Le Monde today.

In announcing that the Parti Socialiste no longer corresponds to his idea of socialism Maurel stated that hundreds of local lay office holders and local councillors, as well as the senator for Paris,  Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, would join him. Henceforth Maruel, whose socialism includes hostility to ‘no borders’ is looking in the direction of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France insoumise.

An English version of some of this text is given here: Emmanuel Maurel: “It’s not a departure from the PS, it’s a split”

There is a report in English on this site: THE MEP EMMANUEL MAUREL LEAVES THE PS.

Maurel’s politics.

Maurel comes from the “Poperian” tendency within the Parti Socialiste. This current, led in the 1970s by Jean Poperen (1925-1997), embodied, in some eyes, a kind of statist Marxism embedded in the French republican tradition.

Others, more favourable to Poperon, would point to his break with the French Communist Party and activism within both a ‘class struggle’ tradition and leading role in the decidedly non-statist Parti socialiste unifié (PSU).

Le Monde paints Maurel in terms which come largely from the first side of Poperon, “du marxisme et de la tradition jacobine” wedded to the principle of laïcité (Ancienne figure du PS, Emmanuel Maurel veut incarner un « socialisme décomplexé »)

Putting this aspects together we get a “antilibérale, écologiste, républicaine” supporter of  “socialisme décomplexé”, that is, an anti-economic liberal, green, republican unfeigned socialist.

While it is hard to dislike somebody who admires Stendhal’s la Chartreuse de Parme and Baudelaire, there is a distinct ‘Euro-sceptic’ strain in Maurel. (10 choses à savoir sur Emmanuel Maurel).

Recently he declared, “Je suis pour une politique de contrôle des flux migratoires, nous ne sommes pas des “no borders”. La gauche ne doit pas avoir honte de parler de nation, de frontière, de laïcité. On ne va pas laisser ça à la droite et à l’extrême droite. »(Le Monde 25.8.18) I am for the control of the the migratory flows, we are not backers of ‘no borders’. The left should not be ashamed to talk of the Nation, of Borders, and of Secularism (in the French sense, of ” laïcité’). We should not let these issues to the Right and the Far-Right.

This would put him in the line of the nationalist and sovereigntist left represented by the German Aufstehen and Sahra Wagenknecht

Maurel also seems to think well of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France insoumise (LFI)  (Emmanuel Maurel quitte le PS : une double bonne nouvelle pour les « insoumis »).

Stating that his first steps are to create a grouping with his friends in the “ gauche républicaine” one of the main themes aligning him with LFI is not ‘socialism’ but “l’immigration” and “la question des frontières.”

The central objective today, he declares is to prepare a new Front Populaire of the 21st century, “Notre objectif est de préparer le Front populaire du XXIe siècle»)  in which  La France insoumisme has a key part to play. (Libération).

He will be on the LFI lists for next year’s European elections.

Whether he will accept the Leadership of the, er Leader, yes, the Leader, of La France insoumise, today’s Maurice Thorez and  Léon Blum combined, is not at all certain.

 

******

 

See also: Valls, Hamon, Maurel, Lienemann… La fuite des ténors du PS se poursuit

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Fragmentation of the French Left: Génération.s, ( Benoît Hamon, former Socialist presidential Candidate) holds its first Conference.

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Benoît Hamon: “le mouvement anti-identitaire.”

Benoît Hamon stood as the candidate for the French Socialist Party (PS) and the ‘belle alliance populaire’ in the 2017 Presidential elections. He was selected by a Primary, in which 2 013 743 people voted in the final run off. Hamon’s victory momentarily gave a ray of hope for the party. His Pour la Génération Qui Vient (2017) promised to free the land from the “liberal nightmare” and to launch a “democratic awakening”, Citizens’ Initiatives, and a  human centred approach to the technological revolution. Apart from green policies, he advocated Universal Basic Income.

In the contest Hamon received a humiliating 6,36 % of the vote. In the following contest for Parliament he lost his seat in Yvelines, eliminated in the first round with only 22,59 %.

Critics of his campaign, such as PS Secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadélis criticised his  “solitary” campaign, which was unable to bring together people outside of his circle, and not even talking about the world of work – that is appealing to trade union support. The winner of the PS Primary snubbed his own party. Hamon, he said wanted to be the leader of an alternative alliance of the left of the Socialists with the Greens and acting accordingly. (Chronique d’une Débâcle. 2012 – 2017. Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. L’Archipel. 2017.)

With Hamon’s “Green Party” campaign, you got,  Cambadélis said, a “Green Party score (“campagne d’écologiste, score d’écologiste” Page 111)

The Socialists  suffered deep depression after many of their members and allies left to back Emmanuel Macron (his ‘treason’ still rankles with François Hollande). Those with some will to continue are torn into mutually recriminating factions, and have only 30 MPs.

Hamon and his allies created their own party. Most of the Young Socialists ( MJS) joined as well as former MPs, and councillors from the left of the PS.

Wikipedia has a useful entry in English,

Génération.s, le mouvement (English: Generation.s, the movement) is a French political party created on 1 July 2017[2] by Benoît Hamon who, according to its founder, aims to “Refound and gather the left”[3] in France. Sometimes rendered Géneration(s) or Génération·s, it was formerly named Mouvement du 1er Juillet (1st July Movement), and has also been known by the short name M1717.

Its foundation follows the sharp decline of the Socialist Party in the 2017 presidential election, where Benoît Hamon was a candidate, and the legislative elections, in which he lost his seat as a deputy.

The movement presents itself as an initiative to assemble the forces of the left in France.[3] The political ideologies it supports are European federalism, ecosocialism, and democratic socialism.[4]

The new party claims to have 60 000 members and a thousand or so local committees.

But their profile in national politics is uncertain.

The weekend Convention, attended by up to 1500  activists  discussed alliances with Yanis Varoufakis, and the DIEM25 for the next European elections. Negotiations with what remains of the French Green party, the EELV., have not gone well. La France insoumise, engaged in its own battle for ‘hegemony’ on the left, under the leadership of  JeanLuc Mélenchon were sniffy. But the genial leader has now offered a “pact of non-aggression”. Which is very kind of him.

The  response from Hamon’s side, whose target is not hard to guess, made mention of not aligning with “ left-wing nationalism” (le Monde)

There is talk of an agreement with the PS… (Après un an d’existence, Génération.s cherche sa place à gauche).

In the meantime Hamon’s party has called for a new ‘humanist’ response to populism and the politics of identity, “ On veut être le mouvement anti-identitaire » his right hand man, Guillaume Balas has stated. (Génération.s cherche un nouveau souffle « humaniste »)

More information:  Le Manifeste de Génération·s.

Discours de Benoît Hamon à la convention nationale de Génération•s le 1er juillet 2018

French Union Protests Make a Good Start Against Macron’s Labour ‘reforms’.

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Protests took place yesterday  in cities across France against changes to the country’s labour laws.

Libération today carries extensive reports on the 12th of September day of action against the new wave of labour code ‘reforms’, which will weaken workers’ bargaining ability and rights, including their compensation from Employment Tribunals. (Loi travail : de Lille à Marseille en passant par Grenoble, la rue gronde).

La mobilisation syndicale presque au niveau des débuts de la fronde anti-loi El Kohmri

Le Monde notes that at 5000,00 people across France (230,000 according to the police) the level of people taking part was nearly at the same level as those against the previous Labour ‘reform’, the El Khomri law – despite the fact that this time around two union federations, the CFDT and FO did not take nationally take part. There were some welcome local exceptions of total union unity (Front syndical uni : des manifestations rares, mais qui mobilisent).

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The first anti-El Khomri marches on the 9th of March 2016  gathered  450 000 et 500 000 ( 224 000 police figures).

The main organiser, the CGT, joined by the small left union grouping, the Solidaires, education and student unions, the FSU and UNEF announced that the day had been a success. The government has aid it remains “serine” faced with the protests. (Réforme du code du travail : l’exécutif affiche sa sérénité face aux manifestants.)

The left daily, l’Humanité, called it a promising springboard for future action (400 000 contre la loi travail XXL, un beau tremplin pour la suite).

On the 23rd of September Mélenchon’s rally,  La France insoumise  has organised its own event, the  “marche contre le coup d’Etat social”.

This has been criticised, some noting Mélenchon’s claim to be effecting the “replacement” ( remplacement) of both the Parti Socialiste and the rest of the left, and, some accuse him,  trade unions, by his own movement.

The CGT and the Parti communiste français (PCF) are participating in Peace marches on that day (Le Mouvement pour la Paix appelle à une grande journée de mobilisation partout en France le 23 septembre).

However, former Socialist Presidential candidate ( 6,36 %), Benoît Hamon who has left the PS and founded  the Mouvement du 1er juillet, is going to join Jean-Luc Mélenchon (19.58% in the same first round of this year’s election) on the 23rd (Contre toute attente, Mélenchon et Hamon s’allient)

The CGT has its own next moblisation on the 21st of September (Journée d’actions, de mobilisations et de grèves).

This is the report in France 24.

Tens of thousands of hard-left trade unionists marched through French cities on Tuesday to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s labour law reforms, although turnout appeared lower than at demonstrations in previous years.

France 24 puts this story under the headline, no doubt for the benefit of its transatlantic readership under the heading, “Hardliners protest French labour reform as Macron chides ‘slackers’.

Translation, “Militant Trade Unions Protest Against French Labour Reform as Macron condemns ‘lazy’ workers.

The word used against workers was ” fainéant”, literally, “do-nothings”.

 

Hitting back at Macron‘s pledge to give no ground to “slackers”, some in Paris carried placards reading: “Slacker on Strike” while in Bordeaux demonstrators chanted: “Macron you’re screwed, the slackers are in the streets.”

The Paris prefecture said 24,000 protesters turned out in the capital, where riot police clashed with hooded youths in isolated skirmishes on the fringe of the march led by the Communist Party-linked CGT union.

That was under the 28,000 estimated by police during March 2016’s demonstration.

Labour unions have scuppered previous attempts to weaken France’s labour code, but this time there was comfort for Macron as two other unions, including the largest, the CFDT, declined to join the protests.

“We’ve been passing laws which take apart the labour code for 20 years. The answer (to unemployment) doesn’t lie in rolling it back further,” said Maxime Durand, a train driver on strike.

After weeks of negotiation, the government last month set out measures including a cap on payouts for dismissals judged unfair and greater freedom for companies to hire and fire.

The reform makes no direct reference to the 35-hour week, a totem of the labour code, though it hands firms more flexibility to set pay and working conditions. The government plans to adopt the new measures, being implemented by decree, on Sept. 22.

During a trip to Athens on Friday, Macron told the local French community: “I am fully determined and I won’t cede any ground, not to slackers, nor cynics, nor hardliners.”

He said the “slackers” comment was aimed at those who had failed to push through reforms in the past, although political opponents and some unions took it as an attack on the unemployed or on workers making the most of job protection.

“We will make Macron back down,” far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has become Macron’s most vocal opponent in parliament, said on the sidelines of a protest in Marseille.

Cherished rights

French workers have long cherished the rights enshrined in the labour code, but companies complain it has deterred investment and job creation and stymied economic growth.

Unemployment has been above 9 percent for nearly a decade.

Macron’s reforms are being followed in Germany as a test of his resolve to reshape the euro zone’s second-biggest economy, a must if he is to win Berlin’s backing for broader reforms to the currency union.

The CGT is France’s second-biggest union, though its influence has been waning. Its leader Philippe Martinez said Tuesday’s nationwide protests were the “first phase” and more would follow. He called Macron’s reference to “slackers” an insult to workers.

“The president should listen to the people, understand them, rather than cause divisions,” Martinez told France 2 television.

CGT workers from the rail, oil and power sectors heeded the strike call but by the afternoon there was no apparent impact on power and refining production, spokespeople for utility EDF and oil major Total said.

Just over 11 percent of the workforce at EDF, which operates France’s fleet of 48 nuclear reactors, took part in the strike, a spokeswoman for the state-owned utility said.

The demos saw people with handmade placards with slogans that strongly suggest, dare I say it, something very similar to a British or Irish sense of humour,

Macron: a Good for Nothing is Worth Two of You Mate! Lazy-bones of the World Unite!

Here: Lazy. Cynical and Extreme!

Too idle to Find a Slogan!

French Socialists fragment further as Benoît Hamon quits Party to found left ‘Mouvement du 1er juillet.’

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Hamon: I’m Leaving the Socialist Party, not Socialism. 

Alors qu’il lançait son Mouvement du 1er juillet, le vainqueur de la primaire a annoncé qu’il abandonnait le PS.   (Libération)

Benoît Hamon, this year’s  presidential candidate of the French Parti Socialiste (during which he scored a humiliating 6,36%), has  announced his departure from the Party on Saturday afternoon at the first meeting of his Movement 1 st  July, Reuilly in Paris. “I spent thirty long and beautiful years in the Socialist Party. I loved this party, I loved it passionately. Today, I am leaving the party but I do not leave Socialism and the Socialists, “ he said. They were nearly 10,000 present at the rally, according to the organisers.  The former MP  continued “I have not changed my beliefs,  but it is time for me to turn the page.”  He added,  I’m not saying farewell to the Socialist Party activists.” 

Hamon, with a background of  many  years of work in the PS, as a party spokesperson (2008 – 2012)  including serving as a Minister (2012 – 2014) he played a leading role amongst its left-wing tendencies, including amongst the ‘frondeurs‘ who criticised the drift, fiscal orthodoxy,  and market friendly politicies of President François Hollande and his governments,  considers that he and his new association will be part of the foundations with which the French left will be able to build a new “common Home”, ( ‘la maison commune de la gauche’).

For the recent Presidential contest Hamon was selected as the candidate of the Parti Socialiste through the publicly open “primary” of the Belle Alliance populaire (BAP) launched by the PS and its close allies.

In the second round he won with 58,69% of the votes (1,181,872 ballots). His rival, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, lost with 31,48% (831,871).

Despite signing an agreement to respect the result Valls (and it is alleged many others close to President Hollande)  lost no opportunity to sabotage Hamon’s campaign. Amongst those who blamed the left-wing ‘frondeurs’ for the collapse of the French left vote, Valls was at the forefront of those who backed  Emmanuel Macron. The right-winger left the PS a few days ago to more clearly show his support for the ‘centrist’ new President. Valls now sits as an MP as part of Macron’s La République en marche (Manuel Valls quitte le Parti socialiste et rejoint le groupe LRM à l’Assemblée).

Hamon accuses Macron of representing a social minority. His counter objective to bring together that social majority with the left to become a political majority.

“Notre objectif, c’est que la majorité sociale d’ici cinq ans, et pour commencer d’ici 2020 aux élections municipales, redevienne une majorité politique” (le Point)

Amongst those present at the new movement’s first public meeting were former Ministers Philippe Martin and  Dominique Bertinotti, Green politicians, Jannick Jadot and former Green party (ELEV)  leader, Cécile Duflot as well as representatives of the Communist Party (PCF)  Fabien Guillaud-Bataille  and (a former leading member of the  Trotskyist Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, at present a member of the PCF) Christian Picquet.

More Le Monde:  Benoît Hamon annonce qu’il quitte le Parti socialiste.

This report summarises the contributions of the meeting. All were agreed, despite their differences on the need for  “new structures for the left”  “reinventing” the and building anew the left. (tous, malgré leurs divergences, s’accordaient à dire que la gauche devait se « reconstruire », « se réinventer » et abandonner ses vieilles structures.) on the ruins of the PS which seems now to be like a Church without believers.

In a Tweet Hamon said to members of the PS that he did not say adieu but see you again

 

In his pre-Presidential book, Pour La Génération qui Vient (For the Coming Generation 2017), Hamon begins by describing his own generation (he is still in his forties), born after the post-War boom, a cohort that has known four decades of crisis. Yet today, he continues, politicians look backwards to an “imaginary” country, a land now ‘besieged” and in “decline”. The supporters of fear and nostalgia have to be faced up to, there is no “homme providential” (Man of Destiny) that can save us, no saviour, “Au culte assumé du chef, la gauche a toujours oppose la force d’un espoir collectif” (against the claims of the cult of the Leader, the left has always put forward the power of collective hope, Page 18).

We hope that Hamon can fulfill his objectives.

The new association, the Mouvement du 1er-Juillet, will be based on participative democracy and local committees.

Official site.

 Image result for Mouvement du 1er juillet

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2017 at 11:56 am

The End of the French Socialists?

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The End of the Socialist Party? Not so sure….

The French Socialist Party (PS) is still in the throes of its historic rout in this year’s Presidential and Legislative elections.

While some of its representatives have switched sides and now support centrist President Macron, others are calling for a ‘refoundation’ of the party.

The PS will not support a vote of confidence in the government of Eduouard Phillipe, although sufficient ambiguity has been left open for those who will abstain instead of actively voting against.

For former First Secretary of the PS,  Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, interviewed in Libération today,  the party must remain socialist, green and pro-European. Its future lies in resisting both the “bonapartisme social-libéral” of  d’Emmanuel Macron  and the (leftist) “gauchisme autoritaire de Jean-Luc Mélenchon”. He floats the idea of “Launching a movement that will lead to a new party.” (Il faut déclencher un mouvement pour déboucher sur un nouveau parti.)

Former Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon – 6,36 % in those elections, he lost his seat in the Parliamentary contest – has created a new movement. This “transpartisan” body, which aims to draw in support and debate from the whole left, will hold its first meeting on the 1st of July. Also on the PS left, Arnaud Montebourg, has called for the party to adopt radical policies, an internal shake-up rather than an approach outside its organisation. His proposals, centring around ‘Inventing a new left”, have so far  attracted 700 PS supporters (PS: des proches d’Arnaud Montebourg veulent inventer “la gauche nouvelle”.

The Parti Socialiste’s National Council meets today (Saturday).

Some commentators suggest that, given its long existence, structural roots in civil society,  and  no obvious signs of internal collapse, that the Parti Socialiste, despite its reduction to 34 MPs and  7,44% of the vote in the Legislatives, is not going to disappear. Re-branding, negotiating a new ‘synthesis’ of ideas, or reaching out to other parts of the left, or a further haemorrhageing  to Macron, will take time. To begin with. Where they will end up is very far from clear.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

French Legislative Elections: A Victory for Social Liberalism against Populism?

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Seats in the Assemblée Nationale.

Nuances de candidats Nombre de sièges
Extrême gauche 0
Parti communiste français 10
La France insoumise 17
Parti socialiste 29
Parti radical de gauche 3
Divers gauche 12
Ecologiste 1
Divers 3
Régionaliste 5
La République en marche 308
Modem 42
Union des Démocrates et Indépendants 18
Les Républicains 113
Divers droite 6
Debout la France 1
Front National 8
Extrême droite 1

 

Percentages of the vote and abstention (57,36%)

Nuances de candidats Voix % inscrits % exprimés Nombre de sièges
Parti communiste français 217 833 0,46 1,20 10
La France insoumise 883 786 1,87 4,86 17
Parti socialiste 1 032 985 2,18 5,68 29
Parti radical de gauche 64 860 0,14 0,36 3
Divers gauche 263 619 0,56 1,45 11
Ecologiste 23 197 0,05 0,13 1
Divers 100 574 0,21 0,55 3
Régionaliste 137 453 0,29 0,76 5
La République en marche 7 826 432 16,55 43,06 306
Modem 1 100 790 2,33 6,06 42
Union des Démocrates et Indépendants 551 760 1,17 3,04 17
Les Républicains 4 040 016 8,54 22,23 113
Divers droite 306 240 0,65 1,68 6
Debout la France 17 344 0,04 0,10 1
Front National 1 590 858 3,36 8,75 8
Extrême droite 19 030 0,04 0,10
Nombre % inscrits % votants
Inscrits 47 292 967
Abstentions 27 125 535 57,36
Votants 20 167 432 42,64
Blancs 1 397 496 2,95 6,93
Nuls 593 159 1,25 2,94
Exprimés 19 176 177 38,43 90,13
Ministère de l'Interieur

interieur.gouv.fr  MINISTÈRE DE L’INTÉRIEUR Second Round.

This morning on the French radio the expected news of the triumph Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche was immediately followed by an announcement that  Prime Minister Edouard Philippe would tolerate no pot-shots at his government from his own quarter. The fresh-faced majority would not see its own deputies becoming “frondeurs” – critics that the right-wing of the Parti Socialiste  now blame for their own crushing defeat, from the Presidential elections to the legislatives.

To one admirer of the new President,  Will Hutton, “Macronism is the emergence of a fresh grounded economic and political philosophy – a landmark moment.” (Macron has led a brilliant coup – could the British now do the same? Observer). In the grip of enthusiasm he continues, “An ancien regime of tired and corrupt conservative and socialist politicians, indissolubly linked to the immobilisme that has plagued France, has been swept away.”

As in Macron Minister Richard Ferrand (accusation of dodgy property deals) Justice Minister and leader of Macron’s allied party, the Modems, François Bayrou (alleged misuse of European funding)…..

Hutton’s 1995, The State We’re In, proposed a ” radical social democratic ” programme for Tony Blair’s Labour Party, with a strong dose of constitutional reform – apparently the key condition for  transforming the UK’s dominance by financial interests – as the answer to British economic difficulties. It drew support from a constituency that emerged at the end-tail of the ‘New Times’ politics of the disintegrating Democratic Left, the largest Eurocommunist tendency of the former  Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), some within the Trade Union Congress, and the liberal left. He has since sifted  through a variety of ever more diluted versions of these themes, ending up with a plea for “fairness” in Them and Us: Changing Britain – Why We Need a Fair Society (2010), and others whose contents I defy anybody to remember anything about.

In the latest of the columnist’s band-wagon efforts his embrace of the glimmer of a new ‘progressive’ movement – it seems that Macron is keen on “social investment” is on very wobbly ground indeed.

Hutton rushes overboard to back the very measure which will raise the hackles of the French trade union majority – apart from the ‘negotiating reformists of the CFDT – ‘reform of the labour market’. This “loosening” of the Code du travail met with mass protests and strikes in 2016.

Will Macron’s priority for legislation in this area, apparently based on a (vaguely sketched) ‘Nordic Model’ though perhaps the ability to sack at will does not figure there, run into a similar storm?

The subject is not mentioned.

A Defeat for Populism?

Macron has been described as populist, in the sense that his idea of ‘progressive’ is ‘beyond left and right’ and is, well, popular. But there is little else to tie him to the debate about populism. He does not support the incarnation of the People in France, or pit the Nation’s sovereignty against Europe and Globalisation. He is not anti-pluralist, En Marche! does not promote  an exclusive form of identity, aim at actual or potential ‘occupancy’ of the state, the suppression of civil society and pluralism, or use any form of demagogy.

Macron’s policies on the European Union (pro, with the promotion of reform) and globalisation (pro- but moderated)  are anti-populist.

So how do we begin to come to grips with his politics?

Since the Referendum Campaign and the victory of Brexit, and Trump’s election, many commentators have talked up the ‘populist wave’.  David Goodhart (The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. 2017) talked of “values tribes”. The somewhere people – those rooted in a specific place or community –  were contrasted with the anywhere people, urban, socially liberal and university educated.

Macron’s party, with its strong support (up to 90% in Paris) in cities and amongst those with degrees, open minded on social issues, liberal on equal rights and  equality of opportunity is  anywhere placed and given a location. These French anywheres  have been beaten off the somewheres, the ‘periurban. the inhabitants of France’s ‘rust belt’ who voted for the Front National.

The constituency of En Marche!, one suspects, is less ‘socially liberal’ on policies  that cost money and taxes, real equality, or is social in the sense of engaging with the social struggles waged by trade unions.

The ‘freedom’ of the market come first.

But this is only the beginning of efforts to come to terms with Macron, and his party-movement.

The Basis For French Political Realignment. 

Thibault Muzergues (Le réalignement politique n’est pas vraiment idéologique, il est d’abord sociologique) fleshed out the sociology behind the changing French political scene.  First of all Muzergues  talks of “millennials“, white I find this claim goes against the observable pattern) , educated, frustrated at not finding a job, and one could add, at the cost of higher education, above all at the continued fallout from the 2008 economic crisis, austerity. They tend to back the radical left, Corbyn in the UK, Podemos in Spain, and La France Insoumise in the Hexagogne.

Then there is a “white minority”, the left behind, the inhabitants of the ‘rust belts’ in Europe (and the USA). They are the ‘losers’ of globalisation. They tend to back the Front National, supported Brexit, and, obviously, Trump.

Next is the  the “creative class”, the winners of globalization, cosmopolitan Bobos (bohemian bourgeois), from high-flyers to right-wing smug Hipsters (I add this latter bit off my own back) who are Macron’s constituency.

Finally, Muzergues sketches as those attached to their ‘somewheres’, “terroir’ et tradition’, They are the polar opposite of the Bobos, the bourgeois bohemians who like Macron. The “boubours” (bourgeois-bourrin, which comrade Google translates, as “philistine nag” and I would say something approaching Essex Man) are as much a part of this cohort as the French equivalent of Home Counties pious Tories. Unlike their British counterparts  included in their conservative values are the existing system of social protection (in France, and no doubt the UK – the Welfare state, notably for the elderly). These lean towards the classical right, Les Républicains onwards.

The game of identifying the constituencies in the new French political landscape will no doubt continue, with the addition of exploration of the largest body in this second round: the abstentionists, who included 4,2% who voted, blank or spoiled ballot papers.

For one person at least, Mélenchon  not voting was a form of “civic strike” “forme de grève civique) , a protest whsope negry can be deployed in futrue against Macron (France Culture)

But if Muzergues tends to work backwards, from the choices on the ballot, voting patterns, to constituencies, it is a better framework than the somewhere/anywhere couple. It  has the merit of outlining one group which appears distinct from the sterile distinction between populist salt of the earth anti-EU, anti-immigrant, anti-globalisation somewheres and the urbane creatives. The constituency of the millennials is an interesting one and has can be seen to have parallels elsewhere, in the United Kingdom and the basis of much support for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn to start with. A lot more needs to be added on the Front National, which I will postpone until the slew of  post-election books arrives.

End of Left and Right?

There has  clearly a game-changing series of changes in this election. Some argue that these new voting blocs are overshadowed by a profound transformations in French political topography.   This year’s elections have undermined the traditional blocs of left and right, as organised and  institutionalised parties, bodies with histories dating to the early years of the 20th century – Socialists, to the foundation of the  Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière, SFIO, in 1905 – with origins still further back to the tumult and aftermath of the French Revolution.

An emerging political system which centres on personalities and their ‘movements‘ , as it is emerging in France, sidelining decades of a (complex) left-right party system, is without direct counterparts elsewhere. Even Italy, after the break up of the Communist Party, continues to cling to a  stem of organised parties, and the 5 Star movement looks well  past its peak.  (Pierre Rosanvallon : « L’élection de Macron redéfinit le clivage droite-gauche ». 17.6.17)

That the Parti Socialiste has managed to get 29 seats with a pitiful 5,68% of the vote, masks its own split between those who consider that they are “Macron compatible” and those hostile to him. One of them  Myriam El Khomri, in whose name the previous labour ‘reform’ was carried out, lost to the traditional right in the second round on Sunday. The Socialist Presidential candidate, Benoît Hamon, was also eliminated in the first round. As a sign of their divisions, Hamon then called for a vote for La France insoumise  in the constituency where his  PS rival, Manuel Valls, was standing.

Re-founding the Left.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s  La France insoumise (LFI) now has a parliamentary group. Apart from those primarily devoted to his own person it includes, François Ruffin, the author of the film Merci patron!, credited with inspiring the Nuit Debout movement, and Clémentine Autain, the independent minded spokesperson for the left alliance Ensemble (Législatives 2017 : La France insoumise de Mélenchon aura un groupe à l’Assemblée nationale.

How far they will fit in with the Left Populist leader’s plans to lead the People against the Oligarchy, and whether agreements can be reached with the 10 Communist deputies, pleased not to have erased from the electoral map, as once seemed possible (Législatives : le PCF retrouve quelques sièges historiquesremains to be seen.

Their priority will obviously be to defeat Macron’s plans to liberalise the labour market by weakening employees’ rights.

In the longer term many have called for a profound re-thinking of the basis on which the left has stood, and the future of all forms of socialism. (1)

Their debates will be of great interest to the whole European and international left.

As the ‘incarnation of the programme’ Mélenchon may not have to face people who might disagree with him inside his rally, La France Insoumise that Pablo Iglesias has found in  Podemos, or opponents of the statue of Íñigo Errejón.  But it may well be that he’ll find that he meets his equals in the new National Assembly, people who are more interested in this re-foundation of the left than in an individual’s plans for the French People.

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(1) The Parti Socialiste General Secretary, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis in his resignation speech called for thoroughgoing change “La gauche doit tout changer, la forme comme le fond, ses idées comme ses organisations. La gauche doit ouvrir un nouveau cycle. Il s’agit de repenser les racines du progressisme, car ses deux piliers – l’État providence et l’extension continue des libertés – sont remis en cause. Il s’agit donc de repenser l’action publique, en mêlant principe d’efficacité et demande citoyenne. C’est le socle indispensable d’une nouvelle offre politique à gauche pour contrer à la fois le néolibéralisme et le nationalisme.”

More Information: France 24.

Record abstention

While Macron’s triumph paves the way for the sweeping reforms he has promised, it also comes with a number of important caveats, starting with the massive level of abstention that made it possible. For the first time in history, turnout in a legislative election has slumped to below 50%, in both rounds. On Sunday, a mere 43% of voters bothered to cast their ballots. This means the 42% of votes won by LREM candidates account for less than 20% of registered voters.

The record level of abstention underscored the widespread election fatigue accumulated over more than 12 months of non-stop campaigning, successive primaries, and a two-round presidential election. It also highlighted the imbalance inherent to France’s electoral system, in which legislative polls tend to be seen as a sideshow to the all-important presidential bout. With his hyper-personalisation of politics, Macron has dramatically increased this discrepancy.

Above all, the measly turnout reflected voters’ widespread disgust with the mainstream parties of right and left that have dominated French politics for decades. A few weeks ago, the conservative Les Républicains were still hoping to win a majority of seats. As results trickled in on Sunday, they were projected to win just 126, their lowest-ever tally. Reflecting on the debacle, their campaign leader François Baroin had little to offer, besides wishing Macron “good luck”.

Socialist wipe-out

As for the former ruling Socialists, they slumped to an all-time low of 29 seats. Last week saw the first-round exits of party boss Jean-Christophe Cambadélis and presidential candidate Benoît Hamon. More heavyweights fell on Sunday, including former education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who was seen as one of the party’s rising stars. As the scale of the defeat became obvious, Cambadélis announced his resignation, adding that “Macron’s triumph is uncontestable”.

Among the survivors from left and right, several have already pledged to support the “presidential majority”. They include former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls, who saved his seat in the Essonne, south of Paris, by a mere 139 votes – and only because LREM chose not to field a candidate against him. His far-left opponent has challenged the result alleging voter fraud, and a recount is on the cards.

Indicative of the extraordinary realignment of French politics was a flashpoint contest in northern Paris, in which centrist Socialist candidate Myriam El Khomri enjoyed Macron’s support, while her conservative challenger Pierre-Yves Bournazel was backed by Macron’s prime minister. Victory went to the latter, marking a huge upset in a constituency that was once solidly left-wing.

Le Pen enters parliament

While LREM capitalised on the anti-establishment sentiment, other parties that had been hoping to ride the same wave fell way short of their objectives. It was notably the case of the far-right National Front of Marine Le Pen, the runner-up in last month’s presidential contest, which failed to translate its strong showing in presidential polls into a large parliamentary contingent.

François Hollande “writes off” his party candidate, Hamon, and seems to call for Macron vote.

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Image result for francois hollande caricature mr flamby

Hollande: dumps his own Party’s Candidate.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get more confused in the French Presidential elections, this story erupts.

Si François Hollande n’a publiquement pris position pour aucun candidat à la présidentielle (ce que Manuel Valls ne juge “pas normal”), sa préférence semble aller à Emmanuel Macron.

If François Hollande has not publicly taken a position in favour of any candidate in the Prsidential elections (which Manuel Valls estimates is “not normal”) his preference appears to be for Emmanuel Macron.

Benoît Hamon accuse François Hollande de “pousser les socialistes à rejoindre Macron”

Now if there is one thing President Hollande was famous for, it was that he was a “party man”, a stalwart figure of the Parti Socialiste,  the Genial  First Secretary and all that.

Apparently not.

The story is developing:

 Sans vraiment le dire, François Hollande a discrètement appelé à voter pour le candidat d’En marche! dans un entretien à paraître jeudi 13 dans Le Point et dont le journal  Le Monde développe les principaux points dans un article paru ce mercredi 12.

Without exactly saying it François Hollande has discreetly called to vote for the candidate of En marche! in an interveiw which will appear on Thursday in Le Point (Note: hard line ‘liberal’ right wing weekly). Le Monde has outlined the principle point in an article which has come out today.

France Soir.

Le Monde,

François Hollande sort de son silence : « Cette campagne sent mauvais »

Sans appeler à voter Macron, le président s’inquiète de la percée de Mélenchon et semble avoir fait une croix sur le candidat socialiste, Hamon.

François Hollande  breaks his silence: this campaign reeks.

Without calling for a Macron vote, the President is worried about Mélenchon’s breakthrough, and seems to have written off the Socialist candidate.

This is the dilemma Hamon faces: