Vive Le Trump: Will France choose Fascism or a Brighter Future?
by Max Eternity
With the first round of votes in April, and the final round in May, how will France lead Europe, and in turn decide the fate of the world?
Will the country swing hard-right and elect its version of Donald Trump, follow the neo-liberal, centrist path of Angela Merkel’s Germany, or begin its return toward a more inclusive, socialist state by electing a 39 year old idealist?
Regardless of its outcome, the upcoming French presidential election will have consequences that will not only impact the nation itself, but is also sure to have a great effect on Europe, the UK, and indeed the world, for the next decade or more to come.
So, who will it be? Depending on April’s election, the outcome could spell the end of the European Union, business as usual, or the start of a stronger more unified Europe, including a greater commitment to social justice.
Ultimately at stake is what results of one important question with 3 possible outcomes: Will the French elect Marine Le Pen and head rapidly down a rhetoric-driven road of nationalist neo-fascism? Will the country stay the cronyism course of neo-liberal austerity by electing Francois Fillon, the Obama-Clinton equivalent who is presently smothered in financial scandal? Or, will the nation elect a candidate who says he’s deeply committed to social justice and the EU, who is quite young, and is described as centrist, by choosing Emmanuel Macron?
From the New York Times on March 23rd, which asks and answers “What would a Le Pen win look like?”:
In the short term, a National Front win would throw the European Union into a deep crisis. Political scientists have argued that over the past two decades, people’s attitudes toward the union have passed through two stages: from broad acceptance in the 1960s and ’70s to an instinctive skepticism from the ’80s onward. A victory for Ms. Le Pen, coming after Brexit, would underscore that Europeans have now arrived at a third phase: active rebellion.
As with every election season there are the key burning issues, and with nearly a dozen presidential candidates to choose from the issues at hand may seem overwhelming. However, according to all the major polls the race is decidedly between Macron and Le Pen. It is most probably that Macron will win, although there is definitely a chance of a Le Pen victory, with Fillon’s win being highly unlikely, but nonetheless possible.
Although Macron is presently seen as the leader in the race, it’s not exactly a shoe in.
From a March 20th article at the BBC, entitled “French election 2017: Who are the candidates?,” a glance at what the top 3 represent:
- €50bn (£43bn; $53bn) public investment plan to cover job-training
- Exit from coal and shift to renewable energy, infrastructure and modernization
- Cut in jobless rate to 7% (now 9.7%)
- Ban on mobile phone use in schools for under-15s and a €500 culture pass for 18 year olds
Marine Le Pen
- Negotiation with Brussels on a new EU, followed by a referendum
- “Automatic” expulsion of illegal immigrants and legal immigration cut to 10,000 per year
- “Extremist” mosques closed and priority to French nationals in social housing
- Retirement age fixed at 60 and 35-hour week assured
- To scrap half a million public sector jobs and the 35-hour work week
- Remove the wealth tax (ISF)
- To strip jihadists returning from the wars in Iraq or Syria of French nationality
- Requiring parents in receipt of social allowances to agree to a “parental responsibility contract
Whatever one decides with this information, it’s the economy and “high-unemployment,” says Oliver Petitjean. That’s the number one issue, he says.
The global financial crash of 2007 has had a “delayed effect…it was more slow and diffused” in France, Petitjean says, which means that France has been in an “austerity crisis” much longer than most other European countries. And although Macron seems to be leading in the polls, unfortunately, Petitjean says, it’s Le Pen who’s been the most effective at speaking to the pressing economic issues.
Petitjean is a researcher, activist and writer for Alter-médias, an activist-based, independent French think tank, publisher and news outlet. Alter-médias is the parent organization for Basta!, where Petitjean is a regular contributor, and for which he describes as “a progressive news website dedicated to connecting the traditional issues and struggles of the left to the invention of new, radical social and environmental alternatives.” Petitjean is also co-founder of Observatoire des multinationals.
Via Skype on March 13th, Petitjean was interviewed for MaxEternity.com in Paris, France, to discuss (in a recorded audio conversation) the potentiality and pitfalls France now faces as its government prepares to either move toward neo-fascism, further into neo-liberal stagnation, or attempt to break free from the status quo establishment and move toward more sociopolitical equality.
Petitjean lives in the suburbs of Paris with his mixed-culture family, and it is his belief that “there cannot be any form of genuine democracy today without addressing corporate power.”
As the EU celebrates its 60th anniversary this weekend, here’s more of what Petitjean has to say about the state of affairs in France, and the 2017 presidential election: