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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2016 11:09 pm 
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Following Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, the global political order will face its next challenge in France with the presidential election on 23 April 2017.

Tomorrow a final run-off primary will be held to select the candidate for the mainstream centre-right party, Les Républicains (formerly UMP). The two surviving candidates, François Fillon and Alain Juppé, are both former Prime Ministers, but they represent very different ideological traditions within the French Republican Party. Fillon is an Anglophile who admires Margaret Thatcher, and his policies are very much in the New Right Thatcher and Reagan tradition – smaller government, free markets, strong national security. Juppé is a moderate and a protégé of Jacques Chirac, and a supporter of the EU. His impediment is that he has a past criminal conviction for corruption in public office when serving as Mayor of Bordeaux, for which he received a suspended prison sentence and was banned for holding elected office for one year. That was in 2004, and his career has been rehabilitated since then, but it may still hinder him.

The Socialist Party will hold its primary in January. The conventional view is that the party is in disarray. Incumbent President François Hollande may or may not run for re-election, but his approval ratings are very low and his administration has suffered from economic difficulties and rising concerns over immigration and national security, particularly in the wake of a series of savage terrorist attacks directed at French civilians.

The reason why the election is getting international attention, though, is not the Republicans, or the Socialists, but the rising third force in French politics, the Front Nationale (National Front). The party was traditionally viewed as far-right and sympathetic to Fascism – former leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has been associated with support for the Vichy regime and making statements viewed as minimising the Holocaust. He succeeded in finishing second in the 2002 Presidential Election, the high-water mark of his political career, but the National Front declined from then. But under the leadership of his daughter, Marine, the party has renovated itself, and now campaigns as a much more mainstream anti-immigration, anti-establishment, anti-free trade, and anti-EU movement. The party recently adopted a blue rose as a symbol, a clear appeal to disaffected voters of both the left and right – the rose is an international symbol of socialism, and blue the international colour of political conservatism.

Since 2014, the party has had a run of electoral successes – winning 12 mayoralties in the 2014 local elections, finishing first in the 2014 elections for the EU parliament, and finishing first in 6 of France’s 13 regions in the 2015 regional elections. Le Pen is now campaigning for President with a reasonable prospect of success.

More to come – I will break this post up into two so it doesn’t get too long…


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:03 am 
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It's Fillon. Two questions -

1. If Fillon and Le Pen get through to the second round of voting, who will left-wing French voters vote for? It's kind-of like a choice between Thatcherism and Trumpism.
2. If Le Pen wins (by no means guaranteed) will the EU survive having an explicitly anti-EU administration in Paris?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:14 pm 
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If Le Pen wins will France do a Brexit like referendum? Or can Le Pen unilaterally move towards withdrawing France from the EU, presumably with the support of a like-minded legislature?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:15 pm 
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sigh.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 5:49 pm 
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I am seeing much of the same debate here, although I suspect a fair bit of it is being driven by journo's who got both Brexit and Trump wrong and are looking for the next bandwagon to jump on.

What surprises me is that no-one has switched on to the fact that these two represent the same interest groups and even if that interest group is the largest, I would suspected that by and large they will takes votes from each other.

Yes there are a number of disaffect people in France who may move from their traditional parties, but I would be surprised if the numbers stacked up. On the other hand I got in wrong about Brexit, I didn't believe how truly stupid British people could be, I get the pain that we have gone through, but to believe what the psychopaths who promoted the Brexit campaign were promising is incredible.

Just to let you folks across the water have coming to you in the person of Nigal Farage,

He was hosting a radio talk-in programme a few days ago and when questioned by a member of the public how he could justify his claim that there would be no adverse economic effects - and using as evidence the drop in the value of the £ - Farage's comment was that it's value was dropping before the Brexit vote, the caller informed him, that in the 4 months before Brexit the £ had dropped 1% since Brexit the number is 19%. Soon we will have 1:1 parity with the Euro.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 10:24 pm 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
If Le Pen wins will France do a Brexit like referendum? Or can Le Pen unilaterally move towards withdrawing France from the EU, presumably with the support of a like-minded legislature?


Article 50 states that any member state may withdraw from the EU in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. What France's requirements are I don't know, but I suspect it would involve passing legislation, as in the U.K. My understanding is that a referendum was not actually required in the U.K., and that the Parliament had the power to invoke Brexit, but holding a referendum was a campaign promise of the Cameron Government.

eborr wrote:
What surprises me is that no-one has switched on to the fact that these two represent the same interest groups and even if that interest group is the largest, I would suspected that by and large they will takes votes from each other.


Yes, it is also possible that Le Pen and Fillon will split the right-of-centre vote and one will knock the other out in the first round of voting. But there's also precedent for the Republicans and FN to finish first and second (2002). A lot depends on the strength of the yet-to-be picked Socialist candidate, and on the ability of Le Pen to attract votes from disaffected former Socialist voters, probably on economic issues, and from people who don't normally vote.

ETA: I should mention that even if Le Pen wants to pull France out of the EU, if it did take legislation, it would take a vote of the Assembly, which would be highly unlikely to have an FN majority.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:43 pm 
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Túrin wrote:
My understanding is that a referendum was not actually required in the U.K., and that the Parliament had the power to invoke Brexit, but holding a referendum was a campaign promise of the Cameron Government.


That was my understanding, with the added understanding that the Cameron Government did so assuming that holding a referendum would squash the idea once and for all.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 4:12 am 
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Holland has confirmed that he will not run for re-election. However, whoever the Socialist candidate is, he or she is not likely to make it past the second round, so I understand.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:19 am 
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This is getting more interesting by the month.

In the first round of the Socialist Party Primary, left-wing rebel Benoit Hamon has beaten former Prime Minister and favourite Manuel Valls. The third-place candidate, Arnaud Montebourg, is also associated with the left wing of the party. They progress to the second round on Sunday.

Valls has described the choice as being between assured defeat and possible victory - a clear appeal to electability. I'm not sure how well that argument is going to go down with the dissatisfied and deeply-divided Socialist base.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 10:34 pm 
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Could this thread eventually be used for other European elections too? Germany has just chosen a very interesting opponent to Angela Merkel and I'd love to talk about that, but seeing how much of the political interest is focused on the US, I doubt it would be necessary to open two threads on European elections in 2017.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:52 am 
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Túrin, as the owner of the thread, would that be OK with you?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 6:43 am 
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Sure, that will work well, as the German election follows the French by four or five months.

The big news today is that Hamon, the most left-wing of the contenders, has won the Socialist primary. That means all three big candidates in the election are anti-establishment to a greater or lesser degree.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:17 am 
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Lengthy article in The Guardian on the current state of the race.

It seems more and more likely that Le Pen and Macron will advance to the second round. But I can't see much of a path for Le Pen from there - Macron is an independent with broad enough appeal that he will almost certainly get most of the support from Republicans and Socialists alike. Of course, I could be wrong - it has been a campaign full of surprises.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:43 am 
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Following the Paris shooting, the first round of voting on Sunday will take place under the guard of tens of thousands of police and soldiers. It is probably too late to see what affect the attack will have on voting intentions until we actually get the results.

It's a four-way race. Le Pen and Macron remain the favourites to advance to the second round, while Fillion and Mélenchon are now close behind:

Image

ETA: Interesting profile in the BBC on surging independent Macron.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:40 pm 
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It looks like it will be Macron and Le Pen, with the former predicted to win with 23.7 percent of the vote and the latter appearing to be the runner-up with 21.7 percent. Mélenchon and Fillon were narrowly edged out of the final round, both with an estimated 19.5 percent of the vote.

I can't imagine Le Pen winning the runoff, but a lot of things have happened in elections recently that I couldn't imagine happening.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:18 pm 
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Nate Silver has some strongly worded tweets on the difference between polling in the last US election and Brexit, and polling for Le Pen, and calls people who think Le Pen can win innumerate. We'll see.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:47 pm 
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I had to look up "innumerate". Good word!

I think he is probably right. He, after all, was much less certain about Clinton's supposed inevitable victory than most others.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:14 am 
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I had to look that one up too.

I hope he's right.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:07 pm 
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I think Silver's right. Macron needs about another 26% of the vote to get a majority, Le Pen needs 29%. Fillon, with 20%, endorsed Macron, and it is difficult to see a majority of the votes of left-wing candidates Mélenchon (20%) and Hamon (6%) going to Le Pen. Le Pen will certainly get Republican votes, and she will get the votes of some Mélenchon and Hamon voters who don't like Macron's pro-free trade, pro-EU, and labour market deregulation policies, but I can't see her putting together a big enough coalition to win.

Also, I think we shouldn't overlook the importance of the election so far. Neither major party made it to the second round of voting, which is unprecedented for the French Fifth Republic. It's highly unusual in any large two-party democracy for the major parties to be knocked back to third and fifth place.


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 7:21 pm 
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Macron wins with over 60% of the vote.

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