The Basics of the French Political System
In the Spring of 2017 a defining election was held, an election that was said that was said to define the future of the European Union. This was the French Presidential Election.
Without going into too much detail, the French voting system ‘eliminates’ potential candidates until there are only two competing against each other. In the start of the campaign there may be many potential candidates, but at the end of the campaign the French only choose between the two candidates who have endured the whole campaign without getting completely dismissed by the French.
In 2017, that system left two polarising candidates in lockstep who couldn’t have been further from each other on the political spectrum.
Leader of France – Macron vs. Le Pen
Opposed against each other was eventual victor Macron who shot down the middle and the ‘ultra’-conservative (populist) Marie Le Pen, who sat on the far right. Carrying on her father’s legacy, but making it even further than he could ever dream of. Her anti-European rhetoric resonated with many of the French, she was and still is of the notion that Putin and Trump are closer allies than the EU.
One of her more radical (or should I say idiotic) policies was to eradicate the euro, which lead to tremendous opposition which eventually casued her to alter the policy and instead she ran on creating an additional French currency that would be pegged to the Euro.
“[…] she [Le Pen] was and still is of the notion that Putin and Trump are more allies than the EU.”
The Core Of French Politics Or A European Business?
Macron is fighting for the Presidential post. He has one foot in Paris and the other in Brussels. The EU’s golden boy, who managed to rally European Liberals from all over and get them to campaign for him, in France. To have a Swede stuttering in French trying to convince your voters who to vote for in their national election, surely is a first.
Although it was a nail biter, to the relief of the EU, Macron won and announced himself the winner while not playing “La Marseillaise” (the French national anthem), which is tradition, but while playing Beethoven’s 9th symphony, the National anthem of the European Union. The bars in Brussels were cheering, the decline of populism was defeated.
Or was it?
Three Years of Macron’s Policies
He campaigned as one of the people but he was soon proven to be the opposite.
Protector of the wealthy has been the term the French President is now more associated with. This is of course, to do with his policies. He cut the wealth tax, saving billions of Euros for the richest people in France, this did not sit well with his people.
Macron however, did impose other taxes on the wealth, as a replacement of the taxes he deducted. In other words, he did a radical reformation of the French tax system. Macron sold his fiscal policies on promises of making France an attractive market for investors, which in-turn would stimulate growth and the job-market.
As things stand now, Macron has not been able to reap the fruit of his labour, and the French patience is running out.
Macron en Marche? Or Falling Behind?
Macron’s political party is on the move, but is definitely in a state of metamorphosis.
Is France turning into Germany 2.0 or a giant insect? If you ask some they would say Germany 2.0 and others would say insect (although they may have been missing out on the sly Kafka reference).
Macron has had a vocal opponent during his mandate, and that’s not Le Pen. A group known as the ‘yellow vest’ caused quite a stir (to say the least), when they in late 2018 took to the streets of Paris and went mental on the city.
Has there been this outrage since the storming of the bastille? Store windows were crushed and the shops were cleared out, cars were set on fire and the streets were nothing but mayhem. This group, the yellow vest movement, would become the antagonist on the French Political stage.
Macron Faces The Yellow Vest Movement
Are they wrong? Or is it a legitimate concern?
It depends, the yellow vest movement certainly is illegitimate and bluntly nihilistic. They complain and refuse to see how their privileges have caused damage to France.
Take the reformation of the pension system, it is a necessary reform for the benefit of all French, primarily the younger generations. The Yellow Vest movement is not willing to compromise, the notion that they deserve it all is selfish to say the least. What they are doing is pushing issues on future generations, their children.
Macron may be part of the political establishment, but he is not a politician blindly following the will of the people in order to stay in power. Macron implements actual changes that will change the course of France, and there is good evidence supporting that he is changing for the better of all Frenchmen.
Is Macron A Knight In Shining Armour?
If you ask Brussels then of course he is (… the European agenda). However, the reality is very different.
Macron has made poor attempts in his efforts of hiding his contempt for people who are unemployed etc. He created a persona as one of the people, but he struggles to live up to it. On several occasions, Macron has tried to leave the suit at home and level with his voters, but he completely lacks sympathy for many in the working class, and consequently no understanding for their struggles.
Whoever is right or wrong is less of the point, it’s rather that Macron is perceived as false and arrogant, which are not qualities people wish for from their politicians.
If So, Then Who Is The Leader Of France?
Macron may be the leader for now, but the yellow vest movement and his failed attempts at dealing with the issue at hand has played into the hands of Le Pen.
Will Le Pen be the leader of France? Do either of them have skin in the game? This is a question many people are asking themselves, particularly Brussels are concerned with the question, for if France goes for Le Pen, the European Union faces a whole new set of challenges.
The two pillars of sanity in the EU are France and Germany, if one goes, the EU will have to gather support elsewhere.. Ironically, despite the Barcelona chaos, Spain is more stable than ever. The political mayhem is slowly fading out, the GFC is fading into a nasty memory. If Spain continues on this track, they might become a European Power house, and Spain’s alliance with the EU is steadfast.