Tuesday, June 13, 2017

French elections and austerity economics

French parliamentary elections took place on Sunday. François Hollande won the Presidency five years ago and his Socialists won a majority in Parliament by campaigning against Merkel's austerity policies. Then they got into office and spent five years trying to implement Merkel's austerity policies. The Socialists came in fifth place on Sunday. According to the estimates in Spiegel Online, they could wind up losing 88% of their parliamentary seats.

President Macron's conservative party that was formed a year ago, La République en marche (LREM) won first place. And it looks like Macron will have a solid majority of parliamentary seats, even without a coalition with the conservative Gaullist Republican Party, which came in a distant second place. (So mächtig wird En Marche Spiegel Online 12.06.2017)

BBC News reports (French election: How dominant will Macron party be? 06/122017):

With 32.32% of the vote, even if it was on a low turnout, LREM crushed its rivals on both the right and left.

Ahead in 400 constituencies out of the 577 that make up France's National Assembly, the party is heading for a convincing majority far higher than the 289 seats needed to control parliament. That does not even take into account the 100-odd seats where Mr Macron's centrist MoDem allies are in the lead.

His centrist alliance could control 415 to 455 seats after the second round on 18 June, experts predict. His first-round success is even more impressive than the first round of the presidential election, which he won with 24.1% of the vote.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s new, actually-left France Unbowed party came in fourth ahead of the socialists. This Guardianpiece by Angelique Chrisafis, Emmanuel Macron's party set for landslide in French parliamentary elections 06/11/2017, calls France Unbowed a "new hard-left movement." In Angela Merkel's EU, any party that advocates something like Richard Nixon's brand of Keynesian economics counts as "far left." The Socialists, though, came in fifth place and could wind up losing something like nine-tenths of their Parliament seats. (Stefan Simons, Der Durchmarche Spiegel Online 12.06.2017) This was a crushing defeat for the ruling party of the last five years.

The combined vote for France Unbowed (the English initials FU are kind of unfortunate) and the crushed austerian Socialist Party was bigger than that for the far-right National Front. That means that being identified with Trump and Putin has become a much bigger political liability in Europe in the last few months.

The BBC News report linked above explains some of Macron's proposals, which include the stock neoliberal budget cuts, pension reductions reduced work protections, cutting taxes for corporations.

Jakob Augstein (Jeremy Schulz oder Martin Macron? Spiegel Online 12.06.2017) says of Macron, "Er ist einfach ein Monsieur Merkel à la française. Und wie sozial dieser angebliche Sozialliberale seinen Landsleuten noch vorkommt, wenn er erst einmal mit ihnen fertig ist, das wird man sehen." ("He is simple a Monsieur Merkel à la française. And how social this alleged social-liberal will appear to his people if he gets the chance to do what he wants, we will see.")

Alex Main of the Center of Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) talks about Macron's challenges in France's New President Wins Parliament Vote, But Faces Problems Implementing Program The Real News 06/12/2017:

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