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THE FRENCH ELECTION – A FEW THOUGHTS IN PASSING

April 24, 2017

THE FRENCH ELECTION – A FEW THOUGHTS IN PASSING

The election in France yesterday has provided us with two candidates for the runoff election in a couple of weeks who do not represent mainstream parties. One is Madame Le Pen, whose political views are to the right of Attila the Hun. Her runoff opponent, Emmanuel Macron, has had little to no government experience and an undistinguished career outside of finance. How can it be that neither Le Pen nor Macron represent mainstream political parties? A better question might at this stage may be whatever happened to the appeal of such mainstream parties to their electorate? Why are their candidates losers?  What is going on in the minds of the French voters? France is one of the great liberal democracies of Europe and indeed of the world, without whose funding and military help we probably would have lost to the British in our American Revolution.  France is our friend. We need to know what happened yesterday.

How can fringe parties with no former electoral success elect even one much less both candidates for the runoff in May? Some say it is the Trump effect, the triumph of the outsider populists over the insiders, insiders who are alleged not to have delivered on their promises of full employment, better distribution of the wealth, better management of the economy, keeping refugees outside their borders, entering into more advantageous trade agreements etc.

Racism and tribalism are suggested by such outsiders’ votes for Madame Le Pen, but she embraces both such isms proudly as though to say, “Yes, and what of it? Enough is enough,” whereas one of her endorsers, Trump, who endorsed Le Pen because he said she knew how to handle her borders, hides his racist views behind a torrent of lies and pretense designed, as usual, to mislead American voters. Le Pen, though wrong, is more honest than Trump who, as an old judge used to tell me when evaluating the honesty of those such as Trump, “Gerald, that guy lies on credit when he could get cash for the truth.”

Parenthetically, another one of her endorsers is Putin, an object of admiration by both Trump and Le Pen even though he electronically interfered with both the French and American elections and, so far, his favored candidates have been winners. He has to be pleased with his choices to date and his next stop is the disbanding of NATO. Look for further Russian interference in French affairs in the runoff along with Trump’s continuing interference by tweet into the French runoff election as well, both in favor of Le Pen.

Even Brexit is thought to be an outsider triumph of populism over the mainstream parties who are regarded to have seen their day and to be ineffective in governing though still officially clinging to such outmoded titles as Tory and Labour and Socialist as though the name alone were sufficient to denote effective governing capabilities, and if Madame Le Pen is elected in the runoff, Frexit could well follow. She has already said she would leave the EU and pull out of the Treaty of Maastricht where the euro was adopted as common currency for the EU 25 years ago, so if she is elected in the runoff we can look forward to her attempt to depart from the EU and a return to the franc, though at this point it would take a coalition of the willing since her party commands far from a parliamentary majority.

Macron represents a more central political look and from his background in high finance could be expected to try to strengthen EU ties and keep the euro. He is currently leading Le Pen but much can happen in the next two weeks leading to the runoff, so I have no predictions on who will win in the May runoff. I am personally not impressed with either candidate, but I rightly have no vote. Among those who do, I am hopeful that they elect Macron since Le Pen’s election could bring on an international crisis if the EU and the euro become history or even threaten to become history, including roiling of the money markets in this country and around the world.

I am personally and especially opposed to Le Pen’s views on race and refugees and here remind the reader that if she is elected we may suffer from the re-institution of European tribalism, a situation which in the past has in one devastating war after another given the world millions upon millions of deaths and injured, widespread destruction of public and private property and unspeakable horrors perpetrated against civilians based upon race, religion and national origin. I think Le Pen’s election would set the stage for a return to such tribalism and, if I could, would hold my nose and vote for Macron in the runoff election in May, especially since Le Pen proposes (among other things) to handle France’s refugee problem with a machete and not a scalpel.

Finally, I do not propose by my effort above to stick my nose into French politics. Such random thoughts I have set out are only those of an American citizen interested in the fate of our longest and best ally, France, a great country with people for whom I have the highest regard. I wish both France and its people well, whoever wins the May runoff.     GERALD      E

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