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Meanwhile… in France April 23, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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From RTÉ...

French centrist Emmanuel Macron has come out on top in the first round of France’s presidential election with far right leader Marine Le Pen in second place, which means both have qualified for the 7 May runoff vote, pollsters projections from partial results showed.

Mr Macron won 23.7% of the vote and Le Pen 21.7%, an Ipsos/Sopra Steria estimate showed.

Mr Macron got 23% of the vote and Le Pen got 22% in an estimate from Harris Interactive.

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1. James - April 23, 2017

Merde

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2. Occasional Lurker - April 23, 2017

Vive la banking sector
Vive la European Union de la big business
Vive la legacy Hollande.

To defeat Le Pen means voting for the globalist bankers candidate and that’s not code that’s just who he is.

Yuck! Melenchon did good though.

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EWI - April 23, 2017

I presume that he was hurt by the jihadiis coming to the rescue of le Pen, but anyone know French politics better and can say?

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Pasionario - April 23, 2017

His result was consistent with the last polls (which, for once, turn out to have been accurate). Seems the attack had no effect (I’m tempted to say French people are used to terrorism by now):

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_de_sondages_sur_l%27%C3%A9lection_pr%C3%A9sidentielle_fran%C3%A7aise_de_2017

For Melenchon to make the second round was always a long shot. I didn’t expect him to make it myself.

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EWI - April 23, 2017

Thanks, Pasionario.

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Pasionario - April 23, 2017

I should add that an overall Melenchon victory was even more unlikely and would only have happened in the nightmare scenario of a Melenchon-Le Pen second round. A Melenchon presidency, lacking a clear majority, would have been extremely fragile and possibly even a prelude to a coup or civil war.

The ideal situation would have been a Macron-Melenchon second round which would have established Melenchon as the clear leader of the opposition.

I don’t in fact think that a Melenchon presidency is desirable at the this stage because neither the country nor the Left is prepared for it.

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3. Pasionario - April 23, 2017

Impressive and unexpected performance from Melenchon, but not quite enough. Shows that the left is still alive. Le Pen has a lower score than would have been expected a year or two ago because of corruption scandals and probably because Melenchon out-distanced her as the anti-establishment candidate.

The Parti Socialiste (6% of the vote; paper membership: 40,000), Europe’s most electorally successful centre-left party of the past forty years, is dead. Les Republicains, the mainstream conservative party, is at death’s door.

Macron will win easily next month. Then there are legislative elections and he may have difficulty securing a majority. I expect Macron to try and build a new centre party that will bring together the centrist wings of the PS and Les Republicains, who already have everything in common. In policy terms, Macron will be much like Hollande (who supports him) albeit with a slightly stronger dose of neo-liberalism, which will do little to put more money in the pockets of ordinary people. At European level, he might just be able to push Merkel in a slightly more reasonable direction. Expect Macron to surround himself with new, civil-society types at first but to fall back on the same old faces — Valls, Juppe, Bayrou — before long.

The Left will need to reorganize itself in a new party encompassing Melenchon’s supporters, the left of the PS, the Communists, and the Greens. Logically, people like Melenchon, Hamon, Duflot, and Montebourg should be able to figure that out, but I have a hunch they’ll blow it and that Melenchon will prove too divisive a leader.

The Front National emerges as the de facto opposition. Assuming Macron disappoints as Hollande did (which is probable), then Le Pen’s chances next time around will be that much greater.

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Occasional Lurker - April 23, 2017

Good analysis.

The establishment wins but it had to cannibalise it’s 2 main parties to do so.

The significance of this election cannot be underestimated.
The left needs the old order to break down in order to win. The kick in the pants is the left will have to vote to keep the old order in power so as not to let Le Pen in.

But when he is in the fight to replace him will need to be fierce because he is the candidate of lethargic response. France’s dreamers elected Tony Blair at a time when Blairism is dying. The defeat of populism or the Sean song of the third way. Time will tell.

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sonofstan - April 23, 2017

“The establishment wins but it had to cannibalise it’s 2 main parties to do so.”

Because they could……

It’s an obvious point, but maybe we tend to think too much in terms of the electoral system in a particular polity as being a mechanism that reflects underlying political realities that may be, to a greater or lesser extent, similar across various countries; so calling Hollande/ Macron ‘Blairite’ and conflating the precipitous decline of the trad social democratic parties across Europe. Whereas it may be the case that different electoral systems have a much greater determining effect in the way politics works and in the way particular forces are expressed and in the perception of thir relative strength. So for example; if the UK had a presidential system, someone like Farage could quite easily poll somewhere in the range that LePen does and his party wouldn’t be a basket case. And someone from the ‘centre’ of the Labour party with a technocratic bent could consign the Corbynite LP to figures like that of Hamon today.

Equally, a movement to the left of Labour polling close to 20%is almost impossible to imagine in England thanks to the strictures of FPTP. And obviously, multi-seat STV has its effects in Ireland that exaggerate certain tendencies.

” the sean song of the third way.”

You meant ‘swan song’ right? I thought it was a clever trilingual pun on ‘chanson’ at first 🙂

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Occasional Lurker - April 24, 2017

I assure you it was the tri lingual pun. 🙂

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fergal - April 23, 2017

Interesting piece Pasionaria-” The Front National emerges as the de facto opposition.” but surely not in parliament? Due to France’s two round majority wins system the FN are unlikely to win more than a few seats? Surely, the left you mentioned above will be the biggest opposition voice to the banker-insider-Daddy’s boy’s MPs?

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Pasionario - April 23, 2017

Not in parliament perhaps. But assuming Le Pen gets 35-40% in the second round, then she’ll have a lot of votes behind her all the same, more than any other opposition figure. Those sorts of numbers will have an effect on how she is perceived.

And Macron promises to introduce proportional representation, which would benefit the Front National.

As for the left in parliament, they may not get their act together in time to form a coherent block. A lot will depend on what happens to the PS in the next few months. If it simply splits and disappears, than Melenchon will get scoop up their seats. If it hangs round long enough to form an alliance with Macron, then that will keep a strong left voice out of parliament.

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fergal - April 23, 2017

Looks like we’re entering the realm of the unknown. The fact that it is not a surprise that she came second is proof that the perception of Le Pen has shifted.
But will Macron get a majority in parliament- how?
Sneaking feeling he won’t bring in PR-Mitterrand did it in the mid 80s and it was fairly quickly rescinded.

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Pasionario - April 23, 2017

Mitterrand brought in PR precisely in order to boost the FN and split the right! He was Machiavellian like that. When the right won the election all the same, they brought back the two-round system. And yes, Macron may not in fact deliver on the promise.

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WorldbyStorm - April 23, 2017

Pasionario, many thanks for your analyses, they’re extremely useful. It’s astounding to me that so many will swing behind Le Pen in the second round. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_French_presidential_election,_2017

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Pasionario - April 23, 2017

A lot of Fillon’s voters and even more so Dupont-Aignan’s (a kind of French Carswell) are old-fashioned, rural, conservative rightists who have been radicalized by marriage equality. They will sooner vote for the far right than a cosmopolitan ex-banker pushing neo-liberal economics. Turnout in the second round might well be quite low.

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4. CL - April 23, 2017

“Macron advances to the second round… because of the unprecedented operation of supporters and campaign volunteers he’s built, using U.S.-style mobilization techniques that, in some ways, mirror the organizational style of Barack Obama’s campaigns. …
Macron turned to three young Frenchmen who got their start in politics as volunteers for Obama’s 2008 campaign, and who now run a political consulting and technology firm in Paris….
the Obama alums.. saw an opening for the signature mix of technology and traditional in-person volunteer interactions pioneered by Obama’s army of 2008 volunteers.”
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/04/france-election-macron-obama/523872/

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5. ivorthorne - April 23, 2017

Sadly, this was far from the worst possible outcome.

And it has to be noted that the effects of the terrorist attacks have been minimal with regard to the result. It would be a mistake to say that there has not been a move away from religious tolerance or that racism has not increased, but I think that this shows that if Isis or Al Queda hope that attacks on soft targets can be used to easily manipulate an electorate into moving further right, they are mistaken.

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6. Pasionario - April 24, 2017

Melenchon has declined to call for a Macron vote in the second round. I think this is a mistake and will complicate any push to rally other left-wing figures for the parliamentary election.

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Ed - April 24, 2017

As I understand it, he’s putting it to an online vote of his movement’s supporters, which is what he always said he would do if he didn’t make the second round (remember, if the ball had bounced a little differently, it could be Le Pen against Fillon). From his/the left’s point of view, there’s a case for not being seen to rush too quickly to join a ‘republican front’ behind Macron; back in 2012, Le Pen taunted Melenchon for having said in advance that he would endorse Hollande in the second round, she painted him as a prop for the centre-left, and it was quite effective. She really wants to be able to present herself as the only ‘anti-system’ candidate/political force.

BTW I agree with you that a Melenchon presidency, in the unlikely event of it happening, would have come too soon, his movement just wasn’t ready for it.

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Pasionario - April 24, 2017

Humming and hawing about an online vote in the face of a direct threat to the Republic is not impressive. What are we supposed to believe? That if the online vote says “endorse Le Pen”, he’ll do it?

Back in 2002, almost everyone, including the Trotskyist Besancenot, publicly called for a vote for Chirac over Le Pen. No-one accused them of selling out or being co-opted by the system. Voting for a neo-liberal over a fascist does not mean you have “endorsed” the former. Melenchon could easily explain that and retain his principles. I don’t know what he’s up to at the moment, but it looks pretty shabby.

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Ed - April 24, 2017

‘Endorse Le Pen’ won’t be an option, so the question doesn’t even arise. This is not some sudden emergency that’s dropped out of a pale blue sky (which Le Pen Sr’s presence in the second round in 2002 was; nobody had seen it coming). It was predictable for months in advance that Le Pen would be in the second round; indeed, until recently it seemed quite likely that she would top the poll in the first round. Melenchon and his organization took this position well in advance in the full knowledge that Le Pen was likely to be one of the two front-runners.

He’s not humming and hawing. He’s sticking to the position that he took well in advance. It may not be what some people want or like but it’s not dithering. I really don’t see the point in talking as if we were in full-blown panic stations over something that nobody could have foreseen a few weeks ago. People have been talking about Le Pen reaching the second round since 2015 at the latest, probably sooner than that, but certainly after the election results that year it seemed like a sure-fire bet. As I said above, I think there’s definitely a political logic in not rushing too quickly to fall in behind Macron or a so-called ‘republican front’ and making it clear that you’ll be opposing Le Pen from your own independent standpoint. Every poll for the last few weeks has been showing Le Pen trailing well behind any conceivable second-round challenger (her best chance would have been against Fillon, with left voters reluctant to vote for him); Macron has a commanding lead, and those polls from the campaign proved to be very reliable, the average for all the front-runners was very close to their final tally.

A lot of the noise directed at Melenchon over this has come from liberals who clearly want the left to support Macron uncritically and then use whatever majority he gets as a mandate for his slash-and-burn economic policies (George Osborne rushed to acclaim him, unsurprisingly). The stupider ones have been wheeling out the usual cliches about horse-shoe theory and the supposed affinities between far left and far right; the smarter ones have been talking about Weimar and their garbled understanding of the KPD’s line. But neither argument applies to what Melenchon is doing here. If, when the Macron-Le Pen run-off gets going in earnest, it turns out that Macron’s support is flakier than Le Pen’s and the race is uncomfortably close, I think Melenchon and his supporters would speak with greater authority in saying ‘you know we don’t like or trust Macron; you know we’ll be the first ones on the streets protesting against his policies; but a victory for Le Pen would be a much greater evil, so make sure you vote against her’, if it was clear to everyone that they weren’t singing from the same hymn-sheet as Fillon, Hamon, Le Monde, Libé, Figaro etc. Le Pen’s bogus outsider schtick is one of her most precious assets; depriving her of that pose is very important.

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Pasionario - April 24, 2017

You, like Melenchon, are over-complicating what is a simple issue. Le Pen must be beaten and can in fact only be beaten with the votes of the left. That means voting for Macron. Everything else sounds like casuistry, as does delaying any announcement for a few days or a week for tactical reasons.

Melenchon HIMSELF put it well in 2002:

«Le vote d’extrême droite doit être réduit au minimum par nos propres forces. Quelle conscience de gauche peut accepter de compter sur le voisin pour sauvegarder l’essentiel parce que l’effort lui paraît indigne de soi? Ne pas faire son devoir républicain en raison de la nausée que nous donne le moyen d’action, c’est prendre un risque collectif sans commune mesure avec l’inconvénient individuel.»

http://www.slate.fr/story/144430/choisir-macron-le-pen-melenchon

The rough translation of what he wrote then is that abstention was an unconscionable dereliction of republican duty and risked handing the presidency to Le Pen. That remains even truer today when Le Pen’s vote could break the 40% barrier. If the left collectively abstained, she would in fact win.

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Ed - April 24, 2017

I don’t think it is over-complicating things, and I don’t think you can just take a quote of Melenchon’s from 2002 as if there hasn’t been any learning curve since then—for example, from the 2012 election, when Melenchon explicitly said before the first round had been held that he would endorse Hollande, and saw Le Pen use that very effectively to brand him as just another member of the discredited political class, a slightly redder tinge of the centre-left, etc.

I think Melenchon has earned a little bit of credit for his tactical sense: a few months ago, it looked as if Le Pen might very well top the poll in the first round, with a score in the high 20s (about 10 or 15 points higher than Melenchon); it also looked as if she would do particularly well with young voters. Now she’s come in barely half a million votes ahead of Melenchon, who beat her among 18-24 year olds, and who came first in Marseilles, where the FN has polled strongly going back to the 80s. I don’t know if there’s evidence of how many people switched directly from Le Pen to Melenchon in the first round, but it would be surprising if there hadn’t been a fair few defections, considering that her vote went down as his went up, and she was explicitly making a pitch to the traditional left-wing, working-class electorate with a bogus ‘anti-neoliberal’ platform. He’s already made a contribution to blunting the FN challenge in the first round, so I would be willing to give him a little bit of credit to assume that he and his advisors have put some serious thought into how best to oppose Le Pen in the second round (which, as I said before, is not some kind of shocking, unexpected outcome, but the predicted outcome for at least two years now).

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7. fergal - April 24, 2017

Vote Pinochet or Thatcher! Either way you’ll probably get 10 years of both

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RosencrantzisDead - April 24, 2017

I was silly earlier and ventured over to Crooked Timber. Most recent post is an encomium to Macron with the poster later commenting that Macron’s inability or unwillingness to solve France’s internal problems is ‘irrelevant’ because he likes the EU and is not in the Front National — which is the only thing that matters.

Liberals: tough on disapproving of fascists; terrified of addressing the causes of fascism.

Further down, some guy goes on about how calling LePen a fascist is unfair because she has ‘modernised’ and said nice things about women and gays.

How much solvent would I need to abuse before any of this seemed mildly sensible?

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sonofstan - April 24, 2017

The Guardian think the French have torn up the rule book and delivered a mighty sock to the jaws of the two big parties by voting for someone who would fit comfortably in either. He’s like a French Stephen Donnelly innit?

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RosencrantzisDead - April 24, 2017

Remember when the Guardian was good? Me neither.

A French Stephen Donnelly would be next-level elitism: the country needs me because I did a course in ENA.

This is truly ‘meritocracy’ in its original, pejorative sense.

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8. CL - April 24, 2017

“The first round of the French presidential election has confirmed the new trend in international politics. In country after country, the most important political division is no longer between left and right — but between nationalist and internationalist.”
https://www.ft.com/content/67779b6c-28c6-11e7-9ec8-168383da43b7

“Mélenchon is essentially a nationalist, despite his internationalist credo.”
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/18/jean-luc-melenchon-germany-putin-french-presidential-race

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Ed - April 24, 2017

They cling on to this ‘not left/right, open/closed’ stuff for dear life, even after an election where the left vote (Melenchon/Hamon) was higher than both Macron and Le Pen. The FT desperately wants to legitimise its failed, unpopular economic agenda by linking it to positive values like cosmopolitan tolerance, and quite happy to let the far right do the same I’m reverse and gain accordingly.

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CL - April 24, 2017

True. But Melenchon’s notion of ‘left’ has moved.

“Mélenchon’s success is also due to a new electoral strategy geared towards gaining back formerly left-wing voters lured by Marine Le Pen’s nationalist message….
While in the past, Mélenchon’s rallies were home to a sea of red flags, the classic color of the European left, his rallies are now home first-and-foremost to the French tricolor…
One of the primary intellectual inspirations for Mélenchon’s new strategy is the Belgian political theorist and philosopher Chantal Mouffe. For Mouffe, who walked hand-in-hand with Mélenchon during the March 18 demonstration, the traditional left-wing playbook needs to be abandoned in favor of a new politics that assembles the totality of the “people” against the “oligarchy.”
https://newrepublic.com/article/142110/rise-jean-luc-melenchon-frances-post-democracy

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sonofstan - April 24, 2017

That’s interesting. Mouffe and her late collaborator, Ernesto Laclau have been talking and writing this approach for years but this is the first time I’ve known any real-life politician attempt to run with it. (maybe Syriza and Podemos heads were listening?) Both are/ were based in the UK, but it’s hard to imagine their ideas – or ideas full stop -having any influence here.

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CL - April 24, 2017

“Political theorist Ernesto Laclau is right when he says that populism is subversive of the existing order of things and the starting point for radical reconstruction of a new order.”-Eoin O Broin, TD
https://eoinobroin.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/in-defence-of-populism/

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sonofstan - April 25, 2017

Actually there’s this:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/27/guardian-view-syriza-essex-connection

Laclau was at Essex for most of his career…..

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fergal - April 26, 2017

Mmm…there were two red flagging waving leftists- Poutou and Artaud- both Trots. Potou got 1% and Artaud 0.6%. What does the New Republic want?
That the left gets stuck in a cul de sac of ideological
purity..to what aim?
Melenchon claimed he would leave NATO, help Greece, put it up to the austerians in Brussels, six weeks statutory paid holidays, reduce working week to 32 hours, increase minimum wage to 1,600 euros (?), end France’s nuclear dependency, competely free healthcare, organic food in all school canteens, end subsidies to private schools, relaunch French economy with old fashioned Keynesian economics and create jobs in organic farming, promote coops,- etc etc- seems pretty left to me..

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Pasionario - April 24, 2017

And nothing will reinforce that false narrative more than Melenchon’s obtuse failure to do the decent thing and call for a Macron vote (as Hamon, the left-wing Green Duflot, and the leader of the French Communist Party Pierre Laurent have all already done).

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Ed - April 24, 2017

I said it above and I’ll say it again: I really think Melenchon has earned the right to be given some slack on this and some credit for having given serious thought to the right tactics here, especially in comparison to Hamon, Duflot, and Laurent, who, unlike Melenchon, have completely failed to take the fight to Le Pen and the FN. Laurent, for example, helped scupper the Left Party-PCF alliance after the last presidential election, when it had a bit of momentum on the back of a decent performance, by insisting on maintaining the PCF’s traditional alliance with the Socialist Party when the regional elections came around. If the tactical thinking of the French radical left had been left in the hands of people like Laurent, they would have completely subordinated themselves to Hollande for the past five years, and left the ‘anti-estabishment’ field clear for Le Pen; it really doesn’t bear thinking about.

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Pasionario - April 25, 2017

This shouldn’t be about tactics at all, but a question of principle in the face of fascism.

An alarming proportion (between 9 and 22%) of Melenchon’s voters are planning not to abstain, but to vote Le Pen! Melenchon’s indifference and mixed messages will hardly help them to see the folly of that choice.

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_de_sondages_sur_l%27%C3%A9lection_pr%C3%A9sidentielle_fran%C3%A7aise_de_2017

As for the politics, the PCF has been totally out-manoeuvred by the PS for the past forty years. Fine. But if Melenchon can’t co-operate with them and the left of the PS and the Greens, then no successful new left-wing movement will emerge. The man seems to have a propensity to fall out with just about everyone and this grand-standing sulk is creating further rifts just when the moment for a once-in-a-generation re-alignment on the left has arrived.

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sonofstan - April 25, 2017

“An alarming proportion (between 9 and 22%) of Melenchon’s voters are planning not to abstain, but to vote Le Pen! ”

I had a look at the vote, commune by commune, in part of the Aude where I stayed for a bit last summer. It was almost all either LePen or Melanchon who won in each, which might suggest a certain crossover…

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WorldbyStorm - April 25, 2017

I’ve sympathy for both your positions Ed and Pasionario but I do think that when it comes to fascist or ‘post-fascist’ candidates in contests like this it is probably best to call out the fascist fairly quickly. But a question, has Melenchon said ‘don’t vote for y’ i.e. Le Pen yet, as distinct from ‘vote for x’ i.e. Macron since the first round. If he’s done the first that’s a very good start. If he hasn’t I would be less tolerant of any delay. I think it can seem a bit too clever by half.

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Ed - April 25, 2017

He’s said ‘don’t vote for Le Pen’ at every possible opportunity for years, so that was never in question. It seems to me, Pasionario, that you’re defining everything in moral terms (do the decent thing, a question of principle, etc.), as if that was in contradiction with putting some hard thought into the best tactical approach. But tactics and principles should be complementary; you start off with your principles and then you think about what the best tactics are for advancing those principles. I mentioned the PCF’s record because they have demonstrated the most catastrophic tactical judgement about how to advance their political principles over the space of several decades, from the 70s to the 90s to the past few years, and I don’t think that should be forgotten if you’re going to contrast Laurent’s stance favourably with Melenchon’s.

The statistic you mention, for example, of a smallish but not negligible minority of Melenchon voters planning to vote for Le Pen: presumably they would be people who buy into the idea that Le Pen and Melenchon are both ‘anti-system’ candidates, and take her rhetoric railing against the banks, neoliberalism, defending the welfare state etc. at face value. How are you going to convince them to see sense? Is it by endorsing Macron within minutes of the final result being known? Or will that merely play into the hands of Le Pen with her ‘insurgent’ posturing? You need to come up with a political answer to that question, not a moral one. Here are the clearest projections I’ve seen for the second round:

https://alexandreafonso.me/2017/04/19/projecting-the-second-round-of-the-french-presidential-election/?utm_content=bufferbd340&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The majority of Melenchon voters plan to vote for Macron anyway, so they don’t need to be persuaded. How are you going to reach the others? The ones who plan to vote for Le Pen, for example – it would be better for them to abstain than vote for Le Pen, so what sort of message is more likely to persuade them to do that? This is all about political tactics, it does us no good to brush those questions aside. You need to be thinking about tactics at all times, even if it seems like a fascist takeover is imminent (in fact that’s when tactics become even more important).

It also doesn’t make much sense to personalize it, talking about ‘dithering’ or a ‘grand-standing sulk’. They’re doing exactly what they said they would do before the election. It’s not some sudden whim.

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6to5against - April 25, 2017

I suppose if I was in a position of influence in France, I’d come down pretty quickly on the side of urging support for Macron. But I still feel pretty depressed about the situation.

Macron looks very like the continuity candidate for the French political mainstream, however much they may dislike his new party. Even more than that, everything I’ve read suggests he is a poster boy for the sort of politics that has brought the EU to the sorry state in which it finds itself today.

The sad reality is that the most effective opposition to the EU neo-liberal policies of the last twenty years is coming from the extreme right. And I can’t help but feel that another seven years of that bullshit from Macron will drive even more voters towards the FN.

If Melanchon is trying to find a subtle path through this mess, pushing for opposition to Le Pen while reminding voters that Le Pen is not the only opposition, then good luck to him.

The stakes are high no matter which way things go.

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Occasional Lurker - April 25, 2017

A look at the demographics says le pens voters are more typically the have nots and the Macron voters more typically the haves.

So it’s not surprising that some Melenchon voters are going to spill to le pen but​ it’s what a fifth of a fifth?

Ed talking tactics is on to something. Macron is banking (an appropriate pun) on everyone else just lines up to elect him to stop le pen. Macron would walk into the presidency on just over 20%.
Melenchon might not want to play that game . The best reason not to play it is it has failed utterly to stop the growth of le pen to date. Instead it’s just a tactic to get Macron elected.

Should Melenchon go with what doesn’t work and get a class enemy elected or does he try say not this time.The expectation that the left is just waiting for the right to use it no longer holds.

How could he canvass to win back voters from le pen if he jumps up the first time the banker calls him to lead his voters into line.

Melenchon has proven his worth in the past. He might be more aware about what will and will not work. We all have the evidence before our eyes of what doesn’t work.

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WorldbyStorm - April 25, 2017

But are you saying that he says vote for Macron the second or third time? I mean what is the game plan here? Does Melanchon say in respect of what is a fascist, don’t vote for her? Or abstain? Or what? How does it work? Particularly if there is a route for the fascist into state power?

And is Macron more or less of a class enemy than Le Pen?

And my question wasn’t actually answered above – after the first round did Melanchon say ‘don’t vote for Le Pen’ as distinct from ‘vote for Macron’?

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WorldbyStorm - April 25, 2017

Btw I don’t mean this snarkily, but I would like to know just how it progresses matters from where we are.

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CL - April 25, 2017

“French leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon on Tuesday launched a consultation asking his supporters if they plan to vote for Emmanuel Macron in the second and final round of the presidential election on May 7…
According to a IFOP survey, 48 percent of Mélenchon voters will vote for Macron, 33 percent will abstain and 19 percent will back Le Pen.”
http://www.politico.eu/article/melenchon-asks-supporters-if-they-will-back-macron/

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Alibaba - April 26, 2017

Didn’t Melenchon say he didn’t “have a mandate” to support Macron? And if a consultation process is feasible, why not go there? It is interesting to see this:

‘“None of us will vote for the far-right. But does it mean we need to give voting advice?”

They are then given three options: Vote for Macron, spoil the ballot paper or abstain.

His supporters have until May 2 to make their choice, with the results available online on the same day.’

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Pasionario - April 26, 2017

If, hypothetically, the online militants voted to abstain (quite possible), and if, hypothetically, Melenchon’s voters (not the same thing at all) actually heeded that decision en masse (which won’t happen), then this marvelous little stunt would in fact run the risk of handing the presidency to Le Pen.

Or can anyone else offer a different interpretation of the consequences of the 20% most left-wing part of the electorate sitting out an election between a neo-liberal and a fascist who were separated by less than a million votes in the first round? At the very least, it would make the election into a squeaker.

For that reason alone, Melenchon’s attitude is profoundly wrong. He is playing politics with the future of democracy itself.

Le Pen won’t win, at least this time around (though I heard the same said of Trump). But it’s only Macron’s own popularity that will save Melenchon from the consequences of his opportunism.

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Alibaba - April 26, 2017

I don’t see Melenchon telling people not to vote for the far-right and engaging in a process of consultation with the movement members as “opportunism”.  It’s a different point of view. I also like the notion of spoiling the ballot paper as distinct from abstaining.

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CL - April 26, 2017

Marine Le Pen May Get a Lift From an Unlikely Source: The Far Left
The National Front… has extended a welcome mat to Mr. Mélenchon’s supporters, pointing out similarities between the candidates….
The Front’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen — kicked out of the party by his daughter partly over his racism — hailed Mr. Mélenchon’s position warmly in an interview on French radio Tuesday…”

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Occasional Lurker - April 26, 2017

Lots of relevant questions and points being made. I think the fact that it’s not looking so black or white is because the le pen problem is not going away and won’t go away by the left being seen to back the man who is austerity and neo liberal in a way that’s looking like a throwback. Macrons ‘youth’ and oratory is what’s masking his old policies. There is no easy way forward. Backing Macron slavishly will make Melenchon voters reliable tools of the French right but not backing him risks a Le Pen election.

The problems:
Being ready for tactical deployment by the right has stopped neither Le pen or the continuation of austerity gifts.
Supporting macron will be supporting an agenda that left voters oppose.
Melenchons voters will not necessarily stay that way when it means voting for corporate tax cuts when told to do so.
Le pens voters cannot be persuaded to shift to left wing parties by seeing it will require eventually to support policies you oppose with every fibre.
Backing Macron now makes a vote for melenchons in 5 years a waste of time.voters then may decide Either vote directly for Macron or the leading anti establishment candidate instead of first round gestures since voting Macron doesn’t end the problem. It just hides it under the carpet and makes it harder stopped.

Those are the problems M is trying to solve. If he says go ahead and back Macron then he may de facto be backing le pen’s growth and success in 2021.

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9. sonofstan - April 25, 2017

Someoen in ‘another place’ posted the breakdown of the expat vote in Ireland:

Macron 44.87%
Mélenchon 19.15%
Fillon 14.96%
Hamon 11.58%
Le Pen 3.98%
Dupont-Aignan 1.99%
Asselineau 1.50%
Poutou 0.98%
Lasalle 0.65%
Arthaud 0.25%
Cheminade 0.11%

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10. paulculloty82 - April 26, 2017

The PCF (linked to, but distinct from France Insoumise) have called on their supporters to vote for Macron. Indeed, given that Les Républicains appear to be split virtually 50/50 between both options, it makes strategic sense for the Left for now to block Le Pen and concentrate electoral efforts on a strong Assembly showing. Sadly, Podemos seem to show little political nous, and Bríd Smith, as with Brexit, appeared to be backing Frexit in the belief that the new scenario would see a dramatic leftward shift!

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11. GW - April 26, 2017

Some general observations:

It’s a shame that Mélenchon didn’t have a couple more weeks. A Macron v. Mélenchon fight would have had much more political content than the current one.

There’s a good bit to learn from Mélenchon’s campaign – the way old-fashioned oratory and a reasonably ambitious and well-considered programme struck a chord with many people. The success of the Plan A (demand changes to neoliberal treaties of the EU) / Plan B (find a way out of the EU if not) approach to the EU.

Much hated by the Leninist Lexiteers BTW. (“Smash the EU State! And then …erm… leave it to us comrades!”)

A fascist will very probably not be president of France. A big plus. But the FN has established itself as a Volkspartei – a mass party of opposition, at least on the Presidential level in the 5th republic. A negative, possibly a big one come the next elections.

On the issue of Mélenchon’s refusal to immediately endorse Macron:

The left in France has two immediate tasks – firstly to ensure that a fascist does not become president.

Secondly to make the implementation of the Blair/Schröderite further attacks on the French working class and public service that Macron is proposing, and Wolfgang Schäuble is drooling over, can not be implemented. That means maximising the opposition in the Assemby and on the streets.

Mélenchon’s people and others on the left are tactically concerned with both. I’d say that unless the difference between the fascist and Macron goes below 10% in the polls there is no need for Mélanchon to go further than re-iterating that people should not vote for a fascist. If it goes less than that then he should try to minimise abstention on the left and make an explicit endorsement to be on the safe side.

Otherwise the Assembly elections are vital – Macron will have to find his own candidates and allies which won’t be easy – a solid left block would make it all the harder, without Macron resorting like Holland to presidential decree.

Look at the transfer patterns in the polling here. It’s Fillon supporters that are transferring to Le Pen and the average abstention rate from left and right is not much difference. So no panic just yet on Le Pen.

Had her opponent been Fillon it would have been a different matter.

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