Now Politics Begins

19 June 2017

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Macron Wins Large Majority in French Legislature

The second round of France's parliamentary elections yesterday resulted in a huge win for President Emmanuel Macron. His LREM party, founded only a year ago, took 308 seats out of 577 in the assembly. His allies in the MoDem party picked up 42, giving the government a 350 seat bloc to work with. The Republicans won only 137, the Socialists a mere 44, the far left La France Insoumise enters parliament for the first time with 27 and the fascist Front National has 8. As any pro will attest, politics in France begins now.

For Mr. Macron, the victory is a double-edged sword. He has vanquished his foes, making the Socialists almost irrelevant, and crippling the right. He has brought together the right-wing of the Socialists and the moderate voters to form a bloc that may dominate French politics for the next decade. At the same time, he has brought in numerous non-politicians who will have to learn how to be legislators in the most fundamental and literal sense of the term.

His program leans to the right compared to the Hollande government that preceded his. Reforming the labor laws to create a more market-based system is part of the plan in an effort to lower unemployment. Cutting the corporate tax rate from 33% to 25% is certainly a rightist policy. Reducing the civil service by 120,000 (mostly through natural attrition) will help save €60 billion to keep the deficit to the EU's 3% target. At the same time, he has a plans to reinvest €50 billion and create a separate €10 billion fund for renewing industry.

Weighing against him is the high rate of abstention in the second round of voting. The 42.64% turnout is the lowest in the history of modern France. It is hard to argue that one has a mandate based on winning a majority of a minority. Yet with the collapse of the Socialists, the defeat of the Republicans and the marginalization of the extremes, it is hard to argue that anyone else has the authority to stop him from implementing his plans. Jean-Luc Melenchon of La France Insoumise claimed Mr. Macron doesn't have the "legitimacy to enforce the social coup d'etat he had planned." With 27 seats, his faction could vote 10 times and still not defeat the government. FN Leader Marine Le Pen claimed her bloc would be a strong source of opposition saying, "Don't write us off so fast." With less than 2% of the seats, this journal can't write the FN off fast enough.

The election has completed the wrecking of the French political class, and it will be some time before it can put itself together again in a different form. Until then, Mr. Macron will begin to implement his programs, and one expects extra-parliamentary resistance to follow. This is not because he is illegitimate nor because his policies are beyond the pale. Instead, the unrest one foresees is based on the fact that more than half of the electorate was too disillusioned to vote. When his policies start to adversely affect certain segments of French society (because change always creates winners and losers, and the losers object), there will be no parliamentary mechanism to resist.

There is talk of his victory leading to a stronger French economy, which in unison with the German powerhouse to its east, can improve matters for most Frenchmen and Europeans. There is also a vacuum to be filled as the British leave the EU, which Mr. Macron fully understands having been economics minister before. France may well have embarked on a new journey to greatness, and this journal would be more than pleased if that is the case.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner told RTL radio yesterday, "The real victory wasn't last night, it will be in five years' time when we have really changed things." He is perfectly correct. However, if Mr. Macron hasn't put some of his policies through by the winter holidays and begun to reap the political rewards from them, the real defeat may come much sooner.

© Copyright 2017 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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