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Macron vs. Le Pen in France

2017 April 23
by Ian Welsh

This is the final showdown. A reminder, Macron ran Hollande’s economic policy, and wants to do even more “liberalizing” of the French economy. A.K.A., more gutting of worker’s rights, wages, and so on.

The polls show Macron winning, but given the reliability of polls lately, who knows?

What I do know is this: Macron will swiftly be as popular as Hollande (meaning, in the doghouse), and the next election, if LePen doesn’t win this one, will be LePen’s to lose (and if she loses, it will be to someone like Melanchon—a left wing populist).

Britain needs LaPen to win. LePen is willing to take the pain to Frexit. She won’t be slowed down by the EU’s promises of pain–instead, she’ll pile it on.

This is what 37 years of international neoliberalism has brought, and bought, us.

(Oh, and Corbyn is Britain’s only chance to do Brexit in a way that isn’t an enema with a sledgehammer, but it looks like that’s what Brits want.)

Should be interesting, anyway.


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23 Responses
  1. Some Guy permalink
    April 24, 2017

    “Should be interesting, anyway.”

    Melanchon vs. LePen would have been interesting. Macron vs. LePen will be boring. I can tell you the final results and write every single MSM article between now and the election for you right now (if you were to pay me enough to take on that tedious task).

    But as you say, at some point it will get interesting.

    People (in aggregate) seem willing to tolerate a much long period of stagnation and suffering than I am, but they may well be right to do so, interesting times can make a mess of a lot of people’s lives, necessary as they may be to fix a failing system (if such is possible, of which I am increasingly doubtful).

  2. April 24, 2017

    While Macron does have many neoliberal leanings, there is a lot to like in his policy platform. On climate change, for example. Here: https://en-marche.fr/emmanuel-macron/le-programme/environnement-et-transition-ecologique. It opens with a strong statement about climate reality and urgency, something you don’t see from a lot of politicians even today.

    * La transition écologique est une priorité pour aujourd’hui qui affecte tous les secteurs de la vie économique et sociale. “The ecological transition is a priority today which impacts all social and economic sectors.”

    * Il ne faut pas des petites mesures mais de grands changements. Nous devons forger un nouveau modèle de production et inventer de nouvelles façons de nous déplacer, de nous nourrir, de produire. “Great change, not small measures, are necessary. We must create a new production model and invent new ways of getting around, feeding ourselves and producing.”

    There is a lot of greatly appealing material in his “environment & the ecological transition” policy page.

  3. anonymous coward permalink
    April 24, 2017

    Seething, fed up French electorate votes for “steady as she goes” balanced by “more of the same, please.” We’ll see how well they really like Macaroni with Hollandaise sauce in a few years. A steady red dribble of Harissa on top should keep the dish piquant and interesting for France.

  4. Hugh permalink
    April 24, 2017

    Macron is the Establishment/neoliberal candidate. Le Pen would disrupt the status quo, but she wouldn’t have the pull in the National Assembly to enact a lot of her agenda. I think that a Le Pen win would make Brexit easier. Given all the EU’s other problems, a Frexit/Brexit combination would end the EU or necessitate a complete top to bottom overhaul of it. I don’t think Europe’s political classes are up to the challenge. If they were, France would not be facing a runoff between the likes of Le Pen and Macron –just as we in the US would not have had our Clinton-Trump fiasco.

    BTW, “Il ne faut pas des petites mesures mais de grands changements” probably should have read “Il ne faut pas de petites mesures mais de grands changements.” The “des” is doubly ungrammatical because of the partitive following a negative and the partitive followed by an adjective preceding its noun. This is what happens when you turn your back on the circonflexe. O tempora, o mores, and all that. /s

  5. karenjj2 permalink
    April 24, 2017

    “A reminder, Macron ran Hollande’s economic policy, and wants to do even more “liberalizing” of the French economy. AKA. more gutting of worker’s rights, wages and so on.”

    That’s all we need to know.

    It will be interesting to see if the Establishment’s “no party affiliation” candidate deceives the French voters while flying the EU flag and endorsed by drone assassin Obomba.

  6. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2017

    Europe has no one to blame but themselves. They knew they needed Turkey in the EU to revitalize it, but did everything to piss them off. And now Erdogan is about to scrap all deals with the EU and let the Syrian Refugees vote with their feet and not lift a finger to stop them. Why should he, they never upheld their end of the bargains they agreed to and acted hypocritically on everything.

    UK saw the writing on the wall and its electorate bailed from the sinking ship. Greeks refused to bail and are paying for it.

    Frankly let the EU burn in the fires of its own hypocrisy, hubris, and racism.

  7. Fox Blew permalink
    April 24, 2017

    Let’s assume that Macron wins. A 39 year old former investment banker. Fine. Gen-X, knows the markets. All good on paper. But my guess is that the way things are progressing globally, he will simply make the appeal of nationalism in France all the more desirable in the coming years. In other words, I fail to see how he can stop the march of history that is anti-globalization in Western Europe. Likely I just don’t understand. And of course, as a Canadian, I don’t understand the nuances of France. But if my assumption is correct, the question is whether this new nationalism in France will be positive nationalism (citizen-based) or negative nationalism (ethnic or group-based). To me, France has always been the linchpin of the “European” project (whatever that may mean). If it fails to secure a workable Europe, is there any hope but a splintering of the remaining nation-states? Fascinating times.

  8. April 24, 2017

    But we liked https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoot%E2%80%93Hawley_Tariff_Act it gave the economy that special glow…”I don’t know if it is art, but I like it.”

  9. S Brennan permalink
    April 24, 2017

    To NR;

    There is nothing that harms the environment more than globalism/neoliberalism. Yes, we all live on one rock, but we need to tend our own gardens, not steal labor and goods from somebody else’s through globalism/neoliberalism’s and it’s most evil manifestation; neocolonialism [aka Neocon].

    17 container ships pollute as much as all the vehicles on earth. There are 51,400 merchant ships trading internationally…globalism/neoliberalism/neocolonialism are evil structure, that destroys earth and rips the souls from good people for the perverted pleasure of Mephistopheles’s acolytes.

  10. MojaveWolf permalink
    April 24, 2017

    Hey Ian, sorry to bother. Far be it from me to argue if you have a new comment moderation policy, I might even applaud it given some of the stuff that’s shown up lately, but assuming it didn’t just get lost in the shuffle, am curious to know what kept mine last night from getting out of the mod queue. Totally understand if you disagree with it (I kinda expect you to disagree with it, at least partly), but unless there’s a rule against linking to Counterpunch, not sure what I did wrong.

  11. MojaveWolf permalink
    April 24, 2017

    “It opens with a strong statement about climate reality and urgency, something you don’t see from a lot of politicians even today.”

    Eh, US dems frequently make such strong statements. Obama said a lot of great things along this line. Did absolutely nothing to help, except his usual schtick about doing the least he could to make it look like he was doing something in order to forestall anyone from getting serious about more likely-to-help measures. I’m thinking Macron seems like the same animal.

  12. April 24, 2017

    S Brennan,

    What you’re describing has nothing to do with neoliberalism. There is nothing inherently “neoliberal” about shipping goods around the world. This has been done for many, many centuries.

    The fact is that climate change is a priority for Macron. Now whether he’ll actually do anything about it if he wins is unknown of course, but he is at the least acknowledging how serious a problem it is.

  13. S Brennan permalink
    April 24, 2017

    NR;

    Let me be brief; you are full of beans.

    1st Paragraph, 2nd sentence of Wikipedia’s definition of Neoliberalism.

    “Neoliberalism (neo-liberalism)[1] refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.[2]:7 These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] These market-based ideas and the policies they inspired constitute a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which lasted from 1945 to 1980.[10][11]”

    Let me break it out…as, based on your professed ignorance, you may have a reading comprehension issue:

    “These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, FREE TRADE, and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.”

    Sheesh…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

  14. Hugh permalink
    April 24, 2017

    MojaveWolf, the link NR provided gives more specifics. Some of the financing is vague as in where the money is coming from and the timeframe although the amounts seem to be over an expected 5 year presidential term. He talks about 50 billion euros but also mentions 30 billion in private investment. If that is part of the 50 billion, it would mean a government expenditure of 20 billion over 5 years or 4 billion a year. He talks about closing all coal fired electric plants within 5 years, capping nuclear at 50%. The French use a lot of nuclear. And banning fracking. He backs the Paris accords which sought to limit global warming to 1.5 and less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels but, fatally, left it up to individual governments how much to contribute toward this goal. France is a big agricultural country and everybody talks about their “peasant” ancestors. There are several positions which seem to protect French agriculture against British and American agricultural exports. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The last paragraph takes a swipe at Trump.

  15. Peter permalink
    April 24, 2017

    @Hugh

    I’m not surprised that some Yankees are tickled pink by Macron’s envirobabble promises. The French should be able to do the math and see that he is actually calling for a 25% increase in Nuke power while plans for decommissioning old Nuke plants and stopping its growth is the policy in place now.

    France is sitting on huge reserves of frackable gas but outlawed the process so they must buy most of the gas they use draining their already weak economy but Putin and other suppliers smile when the checks come in.

  16. MojaveWolf permalink
    April 24, 2017

    @Hugh – Merci! No hablo la francais, or something like that, so the linked article kinda bounced off me. (yes, peeps, I know “hablo” no is French, my languishing self is attempting to make with the funny)

    Eh, since my other comment still isn’t here, going to try one more time, if for no reason other than so someone can tell me why I’m wrong to think as I do . . .

    Best article on not just the French elections but changing alliances/interests in politics that I’ve read in a while:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/21/the-main-issue-in-the-french-presidential-election-national-sovereignty/

    Too tired to say much, but if I were French I’m pretty sure I’d be voting LePen (and possibly would have even pre-run-off), despite my dislike for her political party. As far as I can tell, the supposed “far right” and “fascist” candidate is to the left of 90% of American Democrats and just as important, is one of the few pols with the guts to steer their own course and buck party orthodoxy when they think it’s important, and likewise left orthodoxy to the extent she seems to have more in common with left-wingers than her own FN compatriots.

    Strange times, when the “far right” candidate is espousing more left-friendly economic policies than the “left” (::gag:: at saying that in reference to Macron, who as far as I can tell is the epitome of awful on economics). It’s truly become more technocrat/globalist vs people who still believe in the nation-state, with the corporate toady world press fully in the tank for the former. From my point of view, the Macron types are just as much the enemy as the Cruz/Pence types, so I’m all in w/LePen on this one.

    I don’t doubt that a Frexit will be problematic, but getting Melenchon’s goal of better terms while staying in the EU will probably be a lot more likely with someone who’s actually willing to to pull the plug. Part of Syriza’s problem was that they were never really willing to crash the car in the game of chicken, and thus had absolutely ZERO leverage to negotiate with, other than repeated appeals to the financial system’s basic decency. Which doesn’t exist, thus, Greece got hammered. If pain their must be, might as well get it over now before the rot grows even deeper.

  17. Hugh permalink
    April 25, 2017

    Mojave Wolf, I agree it is strange hearing Le Pen described as far right when she is to the left of Trump.

    As I keep saying, France isn’t Greece. France has an economy nearly thirteen times larger than Greece’s and 70% that of Germany’s. Germany and France are the two indispensable countries to the European project. Put simply, there is no Europe without France. So France has an enormous amount of power to restructure the EU, even more so if it were to become the spokesman for the Southern and Eastern Tiers.

  18. Hugh permalink
    April 25, 2017

    I remember too saying when Hollande won election that he would betray the core principles of the Socialists and pursue a neoliberal agenda, –which he did and which pretty much has destroyed the Socialist party. And of course Macron was his Minister of the Economy who was the instrument of this neoliberal push. So a vote for Macron will be very much a vote for more of the same, that is what is killing the country.

  19. Mallam permalink
    April 25, 2017

    There is nothing “to the left” about a fascist just because you think she’ll spend money on the “right people”. I shouldn’t be surprised to see “the left” of Paul Craig Roberts publishing Counterpunch defending concepts like “national sovereignty”, which will be defined along ethnic lines per Le Pen rather than citizenship. Waving away these issues when they are central to Le Pen and her fascist cadre, coming from the same people who will simultaneously hate on identity politics, is also rich.

  20. April 25, 2017

    S Brennan,

    Again, I will point out that there is nothing inherently neoliberal about shipping goods around the world. This has literally been done for thousands of years in human history.

    You have a strange fixation on the “neoliberal” bogeyman. If you’re anti-capitalist, just say that.

  21. MojaveWolf permalink
    April 25, 2017

    @NR–as I understand the term, and in particular as I actually use the term, a pretty difficult to twist definition of neoliberalism is “liberal on social issues have a perceived positive or negligibly negative impact on the wealthier financial class, while deeply conservative on economic and financial issues that do impact the wealthier financial class, and usually on most other things as well, in particular issues of privacy and surveillance; also tends to accompany a fondness for enabling war profiteers; synonym, ‘kleptocrat.'”

    A strong preference for freer as opposed to fairer trade would qualify as part of that economic conservativism, as would freer for the wealthy while filled with regulations for the less wealthy, as would claiming not to understand what was meant by the word “fair” when applied to trade. Macron would appear to qualify. I’m guessing SBrennan would be happy to go with that one as well. (apologies if I’m wrong, I just wanted to clarify things)

    @Mallam –Ok, I’m genuinely curious here, and not an expert on French politics. I’ve tried to educate myself but the number of usefel articles on actual policy positions in English is somewhat limited. Why do you believe LePen is a fascist? If anyone else has thoughts on this I’m willing to listen (not sure if anyone thinks educating the person who can’t vote in the election is worthwhile, but I’d actually like to know). What are the fascist policy positions or statements from the last, I dunno, four years? (or earlier if there is nothing to indicate she has changed them)(yes, I know her dad and niece are NOT people I’d want to be endorsing or voting for even in a pinch, but as far as I can tell she is not them; I’d hate to be indicted for the politics of all my biological relatives)

    Mandos made a case a while back for what he doesn’t like about her policies, but iirc even his take didn’t veer into anything close to what I would consider fascist, or even more authoritarian than most of the other people running (Melenchon probably excepted)

  22. Hugh permalink
    April 25, 2017

    There is a lot of slopiness in the use of terms. The Socialist Party in France for example is neoliberal, not socialist. Fascism actually has a fairly specific definition. As I wrote in a comment a long time ago:

    Mussolini’s fascism was an aggressive, anti-democratic, authoritarian form of Statism marked by the tripartite alliance of the state with corporate interests and acquiescent labor unions. These unions were not there to defend workers’ rights but to enforce discipline among them. The hallmarks of fascism were the one-party state, mobilization of the population, discipline, corporatism, exaggerated nationalism, militarism, surveillance, intolerance of dissent, suppression of individual liberties (at least those of ordinary citizens), and the embrace of state and state-sponsored violence to achieve these goals.

    This is very far from anything Marine Le Pen advocates. To equate fascism and nationalism is lazy, sloppy, and inaccurate.

    Supporters of liberal immigration policies generally ignore three important factors. The first is overpopulation. The second is that as a result of overpopulation and kleptocratic ruling classes, even rich countries like the US and France are not taking care of their own citizens. And shouldn’t they be taking care of their own citizens and looking at what should be their sustainable population levels before they take on or take in immigrants? The third is that immigrants are used by those same kleptocratic ruling classes to suppress wages and displace citizen workers with more abusable immigrant workers.

    The Counterpunch article was in part simply repeating what has become a commonplace, that classical distinctions between right and left don’t hold anymore, indeed are often reversed in modern practice. So Trump and Le Pen are compared to each other. Yet the MSM still can’t bring itself to call Trump even a conservative even though his policies are even further to the right than those of Le Pen whom the MSM have no problem describing as far right. Even as Le Pen has adopted policies that the Socialists have abandoned. What Mallam fails to recognize is that nobody forced the Socialists in France to abandon socialism as well as millions of workers trashed by their and their predecessors’ policies just as nobody forced the Democrats to do the same in the US.

    And the Counterpunch article was dead on in opposing sovereignty to globalization, that is local, democratic control of societies by their citizens to elite rule of them by anti-democratic kleptocrats.

  23. MojaveWolf permalink
    April 26, 2017

    @Hugh — Thanks, yes. As usual mostly in agreement (tho I gather you are considerably less fond of LePen than me; I know the media also keeps comparing her to Trump but she seems much better to me across the board, otherwise my view of her would be considerably worse; the best I could say about Trump was he offered a wider range of possible outcomes w/more potential upside than Ms. Yay-For-TPP&Itching-For-WWIII; even from that point of view I still thought he was likely to be horrid)

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