The French have an election in 2017. Ne c'est pas?

There seems to have been a bit of excitement here about a recent election in the United States, but the forum is open to discussions about other countries as well. France has an election coming up, and interesting things appear to be happening over there.

When I first joined this board over 15 years ago, France was often pointed to as an example of how left-leaning economic policy could succeed. France had and still has high taxes, strong labor unions with government backing, high minimum wage, government control in many sectors, and very strong regulations on almost anything imaginable. When Francois Hollande became President in 2012, he was widely viewed as the standard-bearer for liberalism in Europe, while most other large countries chose more conservative leadership. Many compared him to Obama. He pursued higher taxes and considered at most minor changes to most of France’s regulatory regime.

Today Hollande pulls approval ratings around 4 percent. His economic policies have given France anemic growth, high unemployment, and general failure all around. Meanwhile France has been hit my multiple terrorist attacks and flooded with refugees, and Hollande was unable to deal with either crisis convincingly. All around are countries with conservative government that are doing a lot better economically: Britain, Germany, Switzerland,… Small wonder that French voters are not expected to give Hollande a second term. Instead the two main contenders are:

In the right corner, Marine Le Pen. She’s the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and inherited his National Front party, which as the liberal media never tire of reminding us, has fascist and neo-Nazi roots. She has moderated the party’s platform, focusing on restricting immigration, leaving the EU, and moderate economic changes.

Also in the right corner, Francois Fillon. He just won the primary for France’s mainstream conservative party, but his platform clearly calls for a break with the past. He is also strongly anti-immigrant, wants serious economic reforms, and is unfriendly towards the EU, though not actually advocating for leaving.

Polls widely suggest that in the open first round in April, Fillon and Le Pen will be the top two finishers, and thus they will go to a run-off election in May. If so, that would be a strong showing for market-oriented economic policy and against immigration, and would leave little for the French left to cheer for.

In the runoff, experts assure us, Le Pen can’t possibly win. The experts also assured us that Trump and Brexit couldn’t possibly win.

“n’est-ce pas?”

Are you celebrating the rise to power of racist politicians?

I think he just finds it amusing that the entire board failed to predict the rise of right wing xenophobic political power 15 years ago.

No, I’m not celebrating anything, just starting a thread to discuss what’s happening. Personally I don’t have a dog in this fight. I think the break-up of the EU is a good thing and inevitable. Sooner or later, some Eurozone country will vote to break free from the petty tyrants in Brussels and that will be the end of it. If it’s not France under Le Pen, it will be the Netherlands or Italy or Greece or … who knows? I don’t view either Fillon or Le Pen as racists in the way that Geert Wilders is. I view them as realists who acknowledge that France is on an unstable trajectory, regarding both immigration and other topics.

When you say you “have no dog in this fight” do you mean it has zero effect on you in any way? Like if France goes full nazi, who cares?

Seems like something worth remembering.

Yes, a large number of small states, riven by border disputes and economic (at least) warfare…sounds like paradise!

(For any ambitious nation looking to grab some territory, that is.)

Do fillon and le pen have any good economic ideas or is their appeal mostly cultural due to push back against multiculturalism, immigration and terrorism?

In the US people said Hillary lost due to economics. Could be, but people who rated the economy as the major issue voted for her. People concerned about terrorism or immigration voted Trump.

Anti-immigration is not a market-oriented economic policy. It is the exact opposite.

I find it funny how the “fiscally conservative” party that supposedly cared so much about free markets and economic reality as opposed to “pie in the sky wealth redistribution” is now the party of protectionism and migration bans. :smack:

There is no “full Nazi” in the race. The media continue trying to associate Marine Le Pen with her father and his most unsavory supporters, but she has cut ties with those people, as the Atlantic article that I linked to explained. She is not a Nazi.

I was asking what you meant by “no dog in this race”. You imply complete indifference. “Hey, it doesn’t matter to me at all but check out how whacky French government might get”. Was that your intent?

Fillon has very ambitious economic ideas that would effectively undo many of France’s long-standing economic restrictions. He wants to cancel France’s famous 35-hour work week and change many other labor laws, giving employees and employers more freedom to negotiate and set their own terms for employment. He wants to raise the retirement age and make other reforms to the pension system, which without reform will be bankrupt before too long. He wants to severely cut the government workforce and cut spending in order to bring deficits down.

You on the left keep misreading anti-globalization as primarily racist.

Well I have no dog in this fight but I am pretty sure an end to the 35 hr work week and “freedom to negotiate” will bring about massive, popular, nation halting general strikes.

Fillon is center-right and Le Pen is far-right. So does Le Pen and NF have more leftist economic policies, but similar social and immigration policies as Fillon? If so why is NF the far-right? I wonder if that is a new trend, politicians who combine far right traits (protectionism, anti-immigration, harsh on crime) with far left traits (social welfare, minimum wage)

Is the 2017 French presidential election just between Fillon and Le Pen or are there going to be 6 candidates?

France uses the 2 round system; there are multiple candidates in the 1st round and if no single candidate get’s an absolute majority of the vote then the top 2 candidates go on to a 2nd round a few weeks later. IIRC no candidate has ever won the election in the 1st round in the 5th Republic’s history.

In most post-industrial countries, certain well-established things are taken as a given beyond the left-right divide. There aren’t many, if any, political parties in Western Europe (or Canada) that want to dismantle the social safety net or the welfare state. The perennial U.S. debate about small government vs. big government is mainly a U.S. debate as the conservative/socialist debate is mainly just over how big “big government” should be and whether the worker should be prioritized over the employer or vice versa.

The Tories currently in power in the UK don’t want to tear down the National Health Service (NHS), just as the Conservatives that were in power in Canada for almost 10 years didn’t want to tear down their universal health care system. The faction in the U.S. Republican party that wants to do dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the like, seems to be a rare exception, but even then, these plans mostly seem to be veiled with talk of vouchers and privitization in an attempt to prevent panic or mass disapproval.

Here is a good run-down so far of the 6 candidates for the first round. Only 5 of the candidates are known at this point, since President Hollande has not publicly stated whether he intends to run for re-election given his abysmal approval ratings or if someone else will run on the Socialist ticket.

Hollande ‘not running for second term’

When the French socialist president calls out Islam and immigration you know the world has turned upside down.