A brief summary of the political situation in France

A POV short introduction

Dear Martin and Nabeel,

Since you asked me to explain the political situation in France to you, I think it’s worth a short article on Medium!

How does the election work?

As you know, French citizens will vote to elect their next president on April the 23rd and May the 7th. Every person with the French citizenship above 18yo, registered on the electoral rolls will be able to vote.
Officially, the election is a “uninominal, direct and universal ballot with two rounds”.

Candidates

The 23rd of May will be the first round. In the voting booth, electors can choose to vote for one candidate (or to vote white/null… I won’t go into details, but you should know both aren’t taken into account). Well, keep in mind we can expect a record of abstention and famous non-sense catchphrase like “the first party is the party of abstention”.

Anyway, if they want to vote, people could choose between (from extreme-left to extreme-right) :

Left-wing

  • Philippe Poutou, Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste
  • Nathalie Arthaud, Lutte Ouvrière (Worker’s Struggle)
  • Jean-Luc Mélenchon, La France Insoumise
  • Benoît Hamon, Parti Socialiste

Officially in the middle (or above…), but right-wing

  • Jean Lassalle
  • Emmanuel Macron, En Marche! (Let’s walk, go ahead, marching on, etc.)

Right-wing

  • François Fillon, Les Républicains
  • François Asselineau, Union Populaire Républicaine
  • Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Debout la France !
  • Jacques Cheminade, Solidarité et Progrès (quite difficult to place)
  • Marine Le Pen, Front National (extreme-right)

500 signatures

This Friday, the Constitutional Council published this official list of candidates. These obtained 500 signatures from elective representatives wanting to support them (the signatures are public, so candidates can put the representatives under pressure). Many other candidates didn’t receive 500 signatures, like Charlotte Marchandise, who was elected after the “citizen primaries” (this 500-signatures race leads to a lack of diversity and promotes big candidates). Benoît Hamon (Parti Socialiste) and François Fillon (Les Républicains) were also designated after primary elections. their parties, Parti socialiste and Les Républicains, organized a private ballot, opened mainly to electors who feel close to them but actually to anyone ready to spend one or two euros, after two rounds, Hamon and Fillon were designated. They are thus able to claim a “popular demand”

The spectrum

As you may know, our political landscape represented at the presidential elections is broader than in the US. Keep also in mind that our left-wing is way more left than is the US (historically, the french-left come from Marxism)… we could say, if we weren’t afraid of caricatures, that Jean-Luc Mélenchon = Bernie Sanders, Emmanuel Macron = Hillary Clinton, François Fillon = Ted Cruz and Marine Le Pen = Donald J. Trump. Ok, it’s not accurate, just so you get an idea.

I skip the explanation of the primaries elections but to put it in a nutshell, Benoît Hamon is representing the left-wing of the Parti Socialiste and won against Manuel Valls (representing the right-wing of the party) and François Fillon (representing the right-wing of Les Républicains) won against Alain Juppé (representing the “left”-wing of the party and close to the centrists party MoDem). Easy, huh?

Benoît Hamon (polls: 10–15%) was joined by the Green candidate Yannick Jadot several weeks ago. He’s representing the socialist wing of the socialist party and thus, lots of tenors don’t support him… and join Emmanuel Macron. Indeed, he is in a good position in the polls but the political activists don’t support him, even if he gathered many intellectuals such as Thomas Pikkety. His candidacy can be analyzed as the electors decision to give a left colour to the Party after François Hollande’s decision not to run for a second mandate.

François Fillon (polls: 15–20%)… Ah François Fillon. The shame of this election. He is under formal investigation for ‘fake jobs offences’ and he wants to continue the election battle. People (far-right people, the ones who didn’t want marriage equality, for example, traditional roman catholics and the like, mainly from the Sens Commun movement) are even supporting him, they demonstrate in the street and like François Fillon, criticize the work of the Courts.

Marine Le Pen (polls: 25–30%) represents the greatest fear of this election. Polls are giving Le Pen against Macron for the second round, and she could have the highest score of the first round. She also is in trouble with the Legal System and she’s fighting against the “System”, the media, the immigration (oh, you know that).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon (polls: 10–15%) stands for the authentic-left wing. He gathers several political ideas (some communism for example) and is a very good communicator (he mades the first holographic meeting “in the world”). However, many people do not appreciate his megalomaniac character. Note that he and Hamon tried to find an arrangement for one candidacy, but it didn’t work out, as neither of them was willing to let go of their candidacy.

Emmanuel Macron (polls: 25–30%) is given as the next president. Very comfortable in the polls, he has this “no-left no-right / left + right” speech which works quite well. Surprising because he has no big political background and career. Of course, everything isn’t nice. He has a very liberal opinion and promotes quite a lot of right-wing values, even if the MoDem leader François Bayrou, joined him.

About the other candidates (polls: 0–5%): they have weak power. We can maybe mention that Jacques Cheminade is close to Lyndon LaRouche’s ideas and that Philippe Poutou is a factory-worker (and is always discredited in media).

Source: LeMonde.Fr

Main topics

During the last months, besides the scandals, the election was an opportunity to talk about universal/basic income. Benoît Hamon was a great promoter of this idea for the primaries, but he came back several times on it. He is still the only candidate talking about, and the concept got a great echo in France.

Benoît Hamon, Emmanuel Macron and François Fillon are pro-Europe. On the opposite, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen are against (to simplify)

Emmanuel Macron and François Fillon want to work for a less prevailing and more regalian State whereas Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Benoît Hamon are for a welfare State.

About environmental issues: François Fillon and Marine Le Pen have minimalistic proposal. On the other hand, the topic is dominant in Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Benoît Hamon’s programs. Emmanuel Macron is quite fuzzy on his thought.

What you should remember

It’s a mess (in French “c’est la foire”), a TV-show. Unfortunately, it’s about the future of France:

  • Jean-Luc Mélenchon wants to fight alone
  • Benoît Hamon has no support in his own party
  • Emmanuel Macron wants to do the Revolution with economic-ultraliberal ideas (“change the system” with “system likes this” ideas)
  • François Fillon implores his supporters to demonstrate against the Legal System
  • Marine Le Pen speaks against the Republic, the law and the media
  • And they are all “anti-system”. Ha ha.

In one sentence, the landscape of the political discussion has moved to the “right”, with an over-representation of François Fillon, followed by Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

Switch your TV on, guys!

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