Vive la différence
The Conservative and Labour share of the total vote in Thursday’s UK General Election reached 82.4%. That was the most The Grand Old Parties have polled since they took 89% between them in the 1970 General Election.
It seems likely that the two rounds of voting in France’s Legislative Elections (11 and 18 June) will enable La République en Marche (LREM), President Macron’s party, to win at least 350 (maybe as many as 400) of the 577 seats in the National Assembly. The largest of the opposition parties (the centre-right Républicains) could get 100+ seats, with the balance split between the Socialists, the Front National and the hard left .
If that’s anything like the final result, France will have enabled what must surely be the fastest and most overwhelming political breakthrough in any democracy. Macron founded his movement En Marche on 6 April 2016, and (after several months non-stop publicity) finally resigned as Minister of the Economy on 30 August 2016. And now comes the difficult bit.
There’s ‘civil society’ and ‘civil society’
Le Monde has carried out a detailed analysis of those LREM candidates. They’re supposed to represent 50% of those who have never had public office. And if you exclude those who have previously either (unsuccessfully) been candidates for election or some sort of political adviser, it’s still not too far removed from 50%.
There’s a bullfighter (female) and a mathematician (male). A judge, 2 fire officers, photographer, theologian, hairdresser, professional handball player (female) and a golfer. And then there’s 87 teachers, 52 health workers (from doctors to nurses to laboratory directors), 11 agricultural workers and 36 lawyers. Just TWO industrial workers. And 71 involved in some sort of ‘consultancy’.
A quick resume on how the Legislative Elections work
In each of the 577 constituencies, anyone who gets 50%+ of votes cast in Round 1 is elected automatically … provided that represents 25%+ of registered voters in their area.
Otherwise, the top 2 candidates automatically go through to a run off in Round 2 next Sunday … as well as any other candidate who got 12.5%+ of the registered votes. The winner of that Round 2 vote is the Député of that constituency.
Continuing Matters Judicial (episode 94)
On Friday, the Paris judicial authorities announced an enquiry into the employment of Euro-assistants by LREM’s ‘partner party’ MoDem and whether they were properly employed on Euro-matters, or matters rather closer to home. Vigorous MoDem denials.
But it’s a bit more than just another tedious set of accusations of gravy-train supping.
According to investigative website Mediapart, MoDem’s leader, Bayrou [the man who decided not to stand against Macron during the campaign at a critical moment; his ‘reward’ being lots of MoDem candidates not having to face LREM candidates … as well as the handy sinecure of Minister of Justice] phoned a Director of Radio France to complain about journalists’ methods following up the story. Bayrou told AFP that he had said to Radio France‘s Director of Investigative Journalism that MoDem’s young female employees felt they were being harassed by being phoned on their private cellphones. Bayrou said he had phoned Radio France as a ‘citizen’ and not as Minister of Justice warning off someone with threats of prosecution for harassment.
Meanwhile, in another part of the Judicial Jungle, the Philippe Government is showing its teeth. Last Wednesday, left-leaning Libération published what were said to be the Government’s all-important plans regarding proposed changes to the Labour Law … much discussed already between President, Prime Minister, Minister of Labour, trades unions and employers’ organisations. Following publication, the Government started legal action in respect of what they said was the theft and illegal disclosure of secret documents. The newspaper is loudly screaming ‘Foul’.
La France Insoumise (variously ‘Unsubmissive France/Indomitable France/ France Untamed/France Unbowed/Rebellious France … yer takes yer money and …)
Mélenchon flew high, very high, during the Presidential Election. He was a serious beneficiary of The Big Mo (maybe a real ‘French Momentum’ was being created). In the final weeks leading to Round 1, it was not inconceivable that his grassroots support could carry him through to the Presidential run-off. He ended with 19.6% of the vote: almost 3rd equal with Fillon (150,000 votes behind him) and – as he reminded the nation far too often over subsequent days – a ‘near’ 600,000 votes behind Le Pen.
But then everything went seriously awry for Mélenchon. Bitterness at his defeat when he had convinced himself he would be running for President in Round 2? Hubris?
It started with Mélenchon’s idiotic refusal to do anything which might make it appear he had joined any ‘republican front’ against Le Pen. His adamantine refusal to make any statement of how he’d actually vote in round 2 was coupled with an equally pig-headed refusal to ‘advise’ any of the 7 million who had previously voted for him how they could/might/should vote in the Macron v. Le Pen run-off.
With his oratory becoming ever purpler, Mélenchon was increasingly irrational. He accused former Interior Minister Cazeneuve of not just being responsible for the death of a demonstrator but ‘involved’ in it [Cazeneuve’s suing for defamation]. Mélenchon has since gone all out to destroy his former ‘allies’ in the Communist Party.
Hubris, classically, is inevitably followed by nemesis. In this case, nemesis is likely to be a modest Legislative Elections vote for La France Insoumise of around 11.5% – plus a haul of, perhaps, less than 20 seats out of 577. It’s A Long Way From … his stated dream of being Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition against President Macron.
Out on the streets
At midday the turnout was 19.24% – somewhat down from 2012’s 21.06% and 2007’s 22.56%. This either means that all parties other than President Macron’s LREM have packed up, given up and gone home, or … that those highly optimistic forecasts of LREM sweeping the board are for the birds, or … none of the above.
I’m for the LREM Total Victory myself.