From micro(n) to Macro(n)

The page has turned. He’s moving on to other things’
That was François Fillon’s campaign manager describing Fillon’s current interests to Le Parisien. Fillon’s ‘preparing for his life back in the private sector … and doing a lot of cycling’. He also, says ‘a friend’, now recognises that he screwed up (une connerie) when he gave too strong a position in his campaign to the Political Wing of the anti-gay marriage movement, Sens commun.
But long before he can enjoy any of that Serious R&R, Mr Fillon has his Meeting with Destiny. 30 May: Meet The Judges Day.
Matters Pogonological 
Edouard Philippe is the first beardy in 70 years to be Prime Minister. Government spokesperson, Castaner, is yet another beardy. So watch out for further sprouting.

‘Misunderstanding’ not permitted

Every President announces, on taking office, that the number of people allowed to work in each Minister’s cabinet [Ministerial office] is strictly limited … and Presidents find themselves consistently and roundly ignored.
President Macron’s made his wishes unequivocally understood (and respected) by issuing a Decree, signed by himself and his PM, requiring no senior Minister’s cabinet to have more than 10 people. Is that the sound of the smack of firm Government I hear?
On the Streets
Surrounded by oh-so-many supporters, our current Député, Morange was squeezing market-place flesh on Sunday. There must have been a 3 line whip to get so many supporters out.
Might an elegant grey-haired besuited man (in profile below) who has
  • been Député of this Constituency for 18 years
  • served as Mayor of one of the 10 towns in the Constituency for 21 years (and is only giving up because the law now forbids doubling up those elected offices), and
  • in 2012’s Legislative Elections won 45% in Round 1, and 60% in Round 2 against a ‘Left Radical’

actually be feeling just a tad uneasy? That’s far from impossible.

Especially because when adding up all the votes in Round 1 of the Presidential Election, Macron was only a couple of hundred votes behind Fillon in this Constituency.

And that probably explains why our elegant Député writes in his first handout (available in market-places/through front doors) that, following Mr Macron’s victory, ‘the Nation cannot allow itself the additional luxury of inexperience and the absence of political nous in charge of the country, as well as a recycled Socialist term of office’

Below is the LREM candidate, Natalia Pouzyreff, doing her best to give the President his Parliamentary majority. No leaflet of any kind telling us about her yet … it’s clearly been rather a rush having to find and sift those hundreds of civil society candidates.
14 candidates will standing in this Constituency. The activists of the Trot ‘Workers Struggle’ Party are up and away persuading We Bourgeois of their electoral worth.
After the catastrophe foretold
The Socialists’ Gen Sec, Cambadelis, ‘On 18 June [after the Legislative Elections] we will take some decisions together. I believe that the Socialist Party will reform itself radically, restructure itself … Change its name? It’s not impossible … The Socialist Party can no longer live with its hierarchical structure … which has given us Mélenchon, Macron, Le Pen … today we must interact with civil society, citizens’ movements.’
Copé (former Républicains boss) ‘The Républicain Party must be reviewed from top to bottom. From basement to attic, everything must be redone.’
173 centre-right politicians signed an open letter urging Les Républicains to ‘take the hand extended’ by Macron. Their reward may be an increase in the number of right-wingers who will form the Government once the Legislative Elections are over.
Power of the President

The Government ‘determines and conducts the politics of the nation’. Parliament votes on the laws and can overthrow the Government.

The President’s an ‘arbiter’ who oversees the functioning of the authorities and ensures the continuity of the State. The President has no responsibility for matters other than foreign affairs/defence; so pensions/unemployment/pensions/tax/Labour law etc are all matters within the jurisdiction of Parliament, and hence Government.

Should President Macron fail to get a majority in the Legislative Elections, he can again nominate a Government of his own choosing, but that might lead to a succession of Governments being voted down and even the National Assembly being dissolved: leading to a paralysis of the institutions of government.

Even the idea of governing by executive order (ordonnance) does not allow the President to carry out his programme. Only the Government can issue ordonnances, and that provided Parliament has approved. The President can therefore block ordonnances with which he disagrees (by refusing to sign them), but cannot force legislation through against the wishes of Parliament.

New National Assembly

No less than 216 of the ‘current’ 577 Députés will not be standing again for the National Assembly. While many of those who are standing are likely to lose. So maybe upwards of half the Députés will be newcomers to Parliament: that will be the biggest clear-out of Députés for nearly 60 years, the entire term of the 5th Republic.

Revising the Labour Law

Mélenchon is proudly claiming the role of Pre-Emptive Strike Force Leader against President Macron’s proposed changes to the Labour Law. These changes are almost certainly intended to be effected by ordonnance [Executive Order], rather than Parliamentary Debate and subsequent changes to statute, so that (as candidate Macron said) the reform can proceed ‘rapidly and effectively’.

However, in order to proceed on this route, Parliament must approve a law permitting the Government so to legislate by ordonnance. Article 49-3 of the Constitution specifically allows the Government to pass legislation without Parliamentary debate unless Parliament actually passes a motion of no confidence in the Government. This procedure has been used by Governments of all political hues 88 times under the 5th Republic.

‘For us’, declared Mélenchon, ‘the Labour Law is the history of the struggles of the workers’ movement. Page after page, these are acquired rights … and if the Labour Law is sometimes complex, that’s because the MEDEF [major large employer’s federation] has never stopped wanting to introduce special dispensations here and there’. Mélenchon insists it is ‘grotesque’ to call the Labour Law, with its 3000 pages, too complex, ‘Does anyone complain that the telephone directory is too thick?’

President Macron spent yesterday individually meeting the leaders of eight of the most significant trade unions, as well as the employers’ federations. A good way to demonstrate his commitment to listening before acting. But, as Le Monde pointed out, it seems a bit odd that the Prime Minister was no part of that dialogue: just the President, the ever-present Elysée Secretary-General, plus his adviser on social issues.

PM Philippe explained away his absence saying, ‘The Elysée sets out the overall strategy and the Prime Minister ensures it gets done’ … but today the PM, as well as the Minister of Labour, had their own chance to meet them all.

A couple of deeply unsavoury Parliamentary candidates

Sarkozy’s Hard-Right ex-speechwriter, Guaino (who, despite constant promises to the contrary, keeps reappearing in these posts) was not allowed to stand for his current seat in the Yvelines. Is he now too unpleasant even for Les Républicains? So he’s wandered Pariswards to fight wishy-washy-wet-semi-liberal-lefty-centrist Kosciusko-Morizet (ex-Environment Minister).

Deeply unpleasant ‘comedian’ Dieudonné, whose language regularly flirts with antisemitic tropes and is often brought before the judiciary will be a candidate in the Legislative Elections. He’s standing against Manuel Valls (former Socialist PM who lost the Socialist nomination, abandoned the Socialist ship but too late found himself persona non grata at Macron’s LREM) who will find himself in great difficulty against Mélenchon’s candidate. Dieudonne’s paired himself with the young tearaway from Brittany who threw a punch at Valls during the Socialist Primary campaign and got 3 months for his pains. After Dieudonné fails to win, he will go off to be Presidential candidate in Cameroon in 2018.

Opinion polls [OpinionWay/Harris]
  • LREM (President Macron) 30% [33% in today’s most recent Elabe poll]
  • Front National 19.5%
  • LR/UDI (right/centre-right) 19%
  • France Insoumise/CP (hard left) 15% [12% in Elabe]
  • PS/EELV (socialists/greens 10%

OpinionWay : 48% not certain who they will vote for. 38% uninterested by the campaign. [Harris found 80% to be very/fairly interested in the campaign.] 49% want Macron to have a Parliamentary majority, 49% don’t.

Elabe says that 67% of voters believe that President Macron’s initial steps have been in the right direction, with 56% of voters wanting him to get an overall majority

OpinionWay’s Parliamentary projection based on all-important hypotheses (eg the number of Socialists with local support despite the Party’s very low overall vote):

  • LREM: 280-300
  • LR/UDI: 150-170
  • PS/EELV: 40-50
  • FI/CP: 20-25
  • FN: 10-15

The Elabe poll, if replicated, could well be the first serious pointer towards President Macron ending up with a Parliamentary majority. Were that to happen, that would perhaps be an even more extraordinary achievement than his own winning of the Presidency. Has France really decided it wants to change?


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