The French “Political Class” Gets Crushed – on the Surface

It designed the rules to protect itself against an election like this.

According to preliminary results of the presidential election in France, the two candidates that came out on top during today’s first round and therefore made it into the second round, to be contested on May 7, are Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing anti-euro and anti-EU Front National, and Emmanuel Macron, leader of the centrist, pro-EU movement En Marche, which he founded just last year.

So congratulations to today’s winners.

This is the first time since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958 that no candidate from the major establishment parties made it to the second round, and that neither of the two winning candidates are backed by parties that have ever held the presidency.

This is also the first time in the Fifth Republic that the winner’s party will have zero or practically zero power in Parliament.

According to preliminary results, Macron got 23.7% of the vote, Le Pen 21.9%, conservative François Fillon 19.9%, and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon 19.2%.

As expected, the biggest loser was the political establishment and the entire “political class,” as it’s called in France. At least on the surface.

After François Hollande’s dismal performance as President over the past five years, his Socialists practically disappeared during the campaign and in the election got only 6.3% of the vote. This left as sole representative of the “political class” the conservative and scandal-plagued former Prime Minister Fillon, who now lost too.

Just how frustrated is the public with the political class? Le Pen at the far right and Mélenchon at the far left obtained together 41% of the vote. That’s huge. They campaigned on leaving the Eurozone (the monetary union of 19 member states) and the European Union (28 member states).

The French have long been frustrated by double-digit unemployment. Private enterprise is suffocating and cannot hire. The enormous government-controlled apparatus could grow, funded by taxpayer money, but due to limits on deficit-spending, it cannot grow enough to pull out the economy. Government spending in France accounts for 57.0% of GDP in 2015, just a notch down from the record set in 2014, and the second highest in the EU, behind Finland and ahead of Denmark. Which doesn’t leave much room for thriving private enterprise.

The French have also been confronted by the European refugee crisis, acts of terrorism, and a slew of other issues. And the general skepticism toward the European Union has been growing.

In 2002, Marine’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen, against all expectations, beat the Socialist candidate in the first round and faced off in the second round against political establishment candidate par excellence Jacque Chirac. During the first round, the French electorate expressed it anger with the Socialists. During the second round, Socialists held their noses and united with the conservatives to hand Chirac a massive victory.

This time, there is no such candidate in the second round. So this could get interesting. But already, the political establishment, with the results not even finalized, is calling out to unit behind Macron.

But the winner’s party will have practically no power in Parliament. Currently Le Pen’s party only holds two seats in the Assemblée nationale, the lower house of Parliament, and Macron’s movement has zero seats.

Elections for the National Assembly are scheduled for June 11 and 18. But the French system of representation in Parliament is purposefully stacked against outsiders of the “political class.” Hence the difficulties of the Front National to obtain a significant number of seats over the years.

Le Pen or Macron will be confronted by nothing but opposition parties. The prime minister will be from one of the establishment parties. It will be a very uneasy “cohabitation,” as they call a situation where the President and the Prime Minister are from opposing power blocs.

Presidential power in France is limited. Whatever the new President wishes to undertake – such as Le Pen’s promise to hold a referendum to get France to revert to the franc – would likely need the approval of Parliament. Dealing with immigration, refugees, and other hot-button topics can be tinkered with at the margins by the government, but major changes will likely require changes of existing laws, to be voted on in Parliament.

It seems the French political class, which designed the current rules of power to protect itself, has foreseen such an election decades ago and has done everything it could to maintain its grip on power if it loses the presidency.

Whoever will win in the second round will smack into this system set up by the political class. It might bring five years of uncertainty and political wrangling, and there will be some changes and possibly some financial and currency turmoil, but ultimately the political class, which represents the establishment on both sides of the aisle, will keep its hands on the levers. And if Macron wins, he himself could quickly become the new darling face of the political class.

The American economy has split in two: how averages of wealth and debt obscure the profound risks. Read…  So Who Are the Debt Slaves in this Rich Nation?

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  48 comments for “The French “Political Class” Gets Crushed – on the Surface

  1. nick kelly says:

    Melenchon is far- left for sure- he’s a communist. To think that he was barely behind the conservative candidate is amazing from a North American perspective.

    • nick kelly says:

      PS: or to be precise he ran as the candidate in 2012 for the Left Front which is a coalition that includes the French Communist Party

    • TJ Martin says:

      France historically has always had a tendency towards communism so that comes as no surprise to me

      • Gershon says:

        Hence their current dire straits as the socialists and “center-right” (stooges of the globalists and oligarchs) have run the country into the ground.

  2. Old Codger says:

    The French will get what they deserve!

  3. Maximus Minimus says:

    I respectfully disagree. I can’t imagine how anyone can call Macron an anti-establishment candidate. Maybe HE calls himself that. If anything he is a hand-picked candidate of the establishment after all other hand-picked candidates floundered because of corruption.

    • Gershon says:

      Macron is an errand boy for the oligarchy.

    • alex in san jose says:

      My understanding is that one thing Macron stands for is de-regulating the French economy. Because we all know how well that’s gone for the US and a ton of other places….

      I think if I were French I’d vote for Le Pen and I don’t say this lightly, because I’m looking into the very real possibility that I’m Jewish. But if the French economy goes the way of the US one, with de-regulation, offshoring, greater divide between rich and poor, etc. then it will make way for someone who will make Le Pen look mild.

      • I agree with you alex, but isn’t it sad that we’re now voting for the “lesser of two evils” instead of a person’s platform? I thought the contagion had been limited to the USA but it appears to be spreading throughout the world at an alarming rate.

        As a socialist I, too, would vote for Le Pen. Le sigh.

    • Nicko2 says:

      Thank the gods. With Trudeau in Canada, Macron in France, Merkel in Germany — the globalized world we all know and love will continue onwards and upwards. Trump will be stonewalled for the majority of the remainder of his term – limiting his damage. All in all, things could be worse.

      • alex in san jose says:

        But that doesn’t address the issues that led to Trump being elected in the first place.

      • Maximus Minimus says:

        It’s so great. Now I can put Nicko2 on my trolling list.

  4. Willy2 says:

    – Ah, but this were presidential elections. Not the elections for the French parliament.

  5. Gershon says:

    “No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”
    ― George Orwell, Animal Farm

    • Petergforsyth says:

      Shaping minds is the job of the oligarchs and those who are the victims don’t know how to shake them off. The presstitutes have to corrall us like horses with debt to chew on until it is too late.

  6. milking institute says:

    The most informative take on this election i have read today Wolf,thanks. of course “the system” will fight to the last man to keep their Frankenstein (the glorious European union) alive,too many trillions invested and tens of thousands of bEUROcrats feasting on royal salaries and pensions. nothing will change there or here in the US for that matter until it all collapses under it’s own weight i am afraid,kind of like the stranded whale…until then up is down,good is bad and we are just spectators in a surreal and increasingly bizarre puppet show.

  7. jl says:

    The new French President will have a tremendous power in this election. He or she should dissolve the parliament as soon as his or her election is confirmed. It is a revolt against the establisment after all. Do not wait, the people will follow. The rest will be history and Frexit. De Gaulle has done it, Miterrand as well.

    • TJ Martin says:

      Yeah … like that line of thinking is working out so well for us ( US ) Seriously .. come to grips with reality rather than the pretense of populist pipe dreams and get off the ” Culture of Complaint ” bandwagon

  8. Realist says:

    Regardless who will win the precidency in France, the new president will run into the same obstacles as before in France, ie any meaningsful reform attempts will fail due to the regime has never had the balls to face down the streetprotests that allways do end reform attempts in France.

  9. Patricia Trudgeon says:

    “This time, there is no establishment candidate in the second round….”

    I have to disagree with you on this one. Macron is a pure product of the establishment. He is an Enarque (having spent his formative years as a civil servant at the Ministry of Finance something all Enarques do as Inspector of Finances) and he is also a former investment banker having worked at Rothschild. Macron is all words and no substance. He fooled many French voters in making them believe he was different. He is Holland version 2. The French will have a hard time under his leadership or lack of.

    • TJ Martin says:

      Life under Macron may prove difficult but the fact is life under Le Pen will be abject hell . Regardless of all her denials the apple didn’t fall far from the tree Jean Marie Le Pen

  10. Some Guy says:

    Wolf, as Maximus and Gershon have noted above, you seem to have misunderstood the role played by Macron.

    He is indeed the errand boy of the Oligarchy, who had to send in an “independent” to do their bidding since their pet political parties were so tainted by being errand boys of the oligarchy.

    This ruse seems likely to work for this election, but it nonetheless has to be recognized as an act of desperation.

    In the same manner, the oligarchy in the U.S. seems to have brought Trump around to their wishes by one means or another (perhaps we will never really know), but having to rely on browbeating a clown like Trump into line is a pretty last ditch resort for folks used to calling all the shots, and owning all the candidates on all sides from day 1 of the campaign.

    • d says:

      “This ruse seems likely to work for this election, but it nonetheless has to be recognized as an act of desperation.”

      I wouldn’t put money on that.

      Le pen will fight with very weapon she can bring to bear.

      They are already on your talking points.

      This will be an Ugly cat fight.

      • Nicko2 says:

        ….an ugly cat fight that will only last 14 days. ’tis but a flesh wound!

    • TJ Martin says:

      1) Please wake up and smell the fertilizer . Trump IS was .. and always has been a part of the US oligarchy .. not falling in line with it .

      2) Both yours as well as Gershon and Maximus’s comments on Macron are based on ignorance along with blatant alt fact , conspiracy theories and distortion reality

      • Gershon says:

        Hey TJ,

        Instead of ad hominem attacks, maybe you could point out any factual errors or logical fallacies on our arguments?

        Didn’t think so. Another Soros boiler-room basher self-indentifies.

  11. MC says:

    My part of French blood is whispering me how this ends: Macron wins exclusively thanks to everybody else ganging up against Marine Le Pen.
    After a week or so of celebrations, and demonstrating how much establishment parties understand Europe’s malaise, Socialist, Republicaines etc will redescend into squabbling like fishwives, and will continue to do so throughout the parliamentary elections, most likely resulting in the most fractured parliament of the Fifth Republic.

    Now a word about government spending: the problem is not so much they aren’t spending enough. The problem is how poorly and incompetently run government-owned and controlled enterprises are.
    The French government reverted its earlier position and is now Renault’s largest, albeit not controlling, shareholder, owning 20% of the company. Earlier this year Renault was caught in a “Volkswagen-like” scandal which led to the company announcing it will stop manufacturing small diesel engines by 2020. This led my Gallic cousins to joke how the State is not even able to protect itself from its own laws: while American fanboys rushed to VAG’s defense, everybody here is laughing at the incompetence of the State-appointed Renault managers who could not even avoid getting caught by their own boss.
    To stay on the matter of cars, in 2014 the French government became the second shareholder of PSA, buying 13% of outstanding shares, after the Peugeot family, whose holdings have been reduced to 14% and is likely to reduce them even further.
    Part of the reason the Socialists took such a massive beating in the first round of the French elections is the overtly ambitious acquistion plans the new State-controlled PSA launched: in just three years it has already swallowed GM’s European operations and Hindustan Motors and is making a strong bid to buy Proton.
    Most French believe if the government is going to throw money out of the window (this expansion craziness will end in tears), at least it should do so in France, not Germany or India. It may be clocherism but there’s a logic behind it.
    I won’t even go into the whole Framatom/Areva/EDF fiasco.

    To this I must add the Socialists have done very little, if anything, to solve the long standing problems of micro-criminality in the cities. Granted, it’s a problem now well beyond anybody’s abilities, but President Hollande did himself no favors by being too soft on urban crime.
    Here I’d like to say like people everywhere my Gallic cousins are not bloodthirsty vigilantes, but when micro-criminality becomes so widespread as it is now and especially so brazen, as laws seem stacked in the criminal’s favor, they tend to respond by demanding a crackdown, a crackdown President Hollande didn’t deliver.
    Another thing it may be worth noting is President Hollande further hurt his own (and his party’s) cause by trying to make pass all terror attacks as the work of religious extremists sent here from abroad while in reality the terrorists were mostly common criminals born and raised in France who later “graduated” to terrorism. Most Frenchmen see, correctly in my opinion, domestic terrorism as a byproduct of common crime and the lawlessness of some areas the State, for all its sweeping powers and enormous resources, decided to abandon.

    • Maximus Minimus says:

      Great info. BTW, how is the Renault-Nissan-French government relationship developing?
      You could have mentioned some other failures the French government is involved in through EU, like the Galileo through the Ariane project, and others.
      Regarding micro-criminality, it is obvious that with open borders Europe needs an FBI (granted that would be macro-criminality), not just information sharing, but who would give up national powers when they abuse existing powers so blatantly.

      • MC says:

        The funny thing about the Nissan-Renault merger (which back in the day Nikkei called “the marriage of the weaklings”) is the two companies have been mostly run as independent entities ever since.
        Just to give an example the electric vehicle programs are run as completely separated entities: the Renault one has floundered badly (chiefly due to problems with the batteries) while the Nissan one seems to be doing just fine.
        I suspect this is due to the fact when there’s a merger in Japan (Nissan is still financed through Japanese megabanks, chiefly Mizuho) it’s always expected the two companies will be independently run as long as possible, no matter how financially irresponsible this is.

        It’s difficult to explain the concept of micro-criminality to people from the Anglosphere or even Nordic countries. It’s not a matter of criminals migrating across the borders: it’s a matter of legislation being so stacked in the criminal’s favor you stop wondering at all the French and Italian jokes about politicians protecting their own kind. Micro-criminals don’t bother crossing borders unless they hear they can make more money elsewhere.

        These micro-crimes are no laughing matters: they include vandalism, burglary up to €5000 in value (not much for rich people, a disaster for many), aggressive begging, pickpocketing etc. Well organized crime cartels are behind all of this, of course: just ask the common beggars who get violently beaten if they stray into an area controlled by the cartels.

        So why don’t authorities intervene? Crime is always crime after all.
        The reason is simple: going after these crimes does not pay and may blow back. Ivory Tower Liberals exist both side of the Atlantic.

    • intosh says:

      “My part of French blood is whispering me how this ends: Macron wins exclusively thanks to everybody else ganging up against Marine Le Pen.”

      Funny because my thinking is that Le Pen will win PRECISELY because everyone else is “ganging up” against her.

      If the establishment wants Macron to win (and it does), it should make itself more discreet but I know it cannot help itself. Example: Hollande announced he’ll vote for Macron.

      • MC says:

        In Italy M5S has long been the strongest party, commanding up to and possibly more of 25% of popular vote. So why aren’t they ruling the country? Why do they keep on losing elections despite winning the vote?
        Again, because everybody else ganged up against them: as I always say it’s funny seeing old Mussolini admirers and self-proclaimed Communists going hand in hand to save their cushy jobs after years of being at each other’s throat.
        All coalition parties have been racked by scandals, especially the ex-Communists who form the backbone of the government. Yet people keep on voting for them.

        The reasons are not that simple.
        Clientelism is surely important, but it doesn’t win elections anymore. At most it can avoid a defeat, as the PP learned in Spain.
        Propaganda, aimed at “anti-establishment” parties which are represented as monster or mere sock puppets for the boogeyman du jour (you thought only Trump was a Putin puppet? Ah!), helps as well, albeit it’s becoming so childish and embarrassingly bad one has to wonder at the mental faculties of those falling for it.
        Finally there’s what German-Italian comedy genius Paolo Villaggio called “fossilization”. It’s self-explanatory.

        • Maximus Minimus says:

          Quite right. Just look at the present post-vote alliances in France. The largest union CFDT endorsed Macron, a globalist if there is one. And probably so will a ultra-leftist Melenchon. Chameleons in disguise.
          I don’t want to misuse the three-word acronym.

      • d says:

        Hollandes endorsement, is almost a death sentence for Macron, no.

  12. Meme Imfurst says:

    Emmanuel Macron is a Rothchild puppy and he will do a dogs work.

    I have to ask, how can our ex-president endorse him and that not be considered interfering in and influencing an election in a foreign country?

    Five EU nations just voted Saudi Arabia on to the “Womens rights council”, has the world gone completely mad?

    A friend just got back from Paris and says about a year ago Paris lo0ked like it always has, but now there are migrants sleeping ( with mattresses) on the mail boulevards, even near the main tourist places and expensive shops. Prayer calls scream at 6 AM, and now cars and trucks with speakers on top drive around neighborhoods blaring out the come to prayer call.

    Get ready America, many want this here too.

    • TJ Martin says:

      ” I have to ask, how can our ex-president endorse him and that not be considered interfering in and influencing an election in a foreign country? ”

      Hypocrisy abounds Meme Imfurst . In case you hadn’t noticed our current ‘ so called ‘ president Trump is and has been blatantly endorsing Le Pen … since winning his winning the election .

      Care to comment ?

      • History says:

        Trump called for Le Pen’s victory because he’s probably shorting the Euro, the DAX, etc. Hopefully today he’ll get a massive margin call.

  13. Kevin Beck says:

    The object of a parliamentary system of government is to PREVENT a radical of any stripe from becoming an all-encompassing leader of the nation. It’s to make certain that the nation remains a nation of laws and not of individual men (or women).

    This point is not a condemnation of Marine Le Pen, whom I would prefer as the ultimate victor; it’s to point out that national governments are not supposed to turn their direction 180 degrees just because one person won election to their highest elective office.

    That being said, I believe that Marine Le Pen’s policy ideas are best for the nation of France, and if it causes the break-up of the European Union…then that’s all for the better.

    • Winston says:

      “The object of a parliamentary system of government is to PREVENT a radical of any stripe from becoming an all-encompassing leader of the nation. It’s to make certain that the nation remains a nation of laws and not of individual men (or women).”

      It also serves to prevent any radical change when such is NEEDED to correct a massively corrupt status quo caused by bought government, in the US brown paper bags of cash having been replaced with lobbyists and campaign donations.

      • intosh says:

        Radical change is never needed. Radical change is often a disaster, creating more new problems than solving old ones. Calling for radical change is knee-jerk teenager mentality. Adding more sugar to a salty soup is not the solution. Rather, it should be about progressive change. Try adding a bit of water.

  14. d says:

    Currently she would be faced with an assembly that would openly confront her every move.

    What will the makeup of the new one be?

    To many are counting chickens, when they should be watching, so nobody boils their eggs.

  15. Mary says:

    At least in France, whoever wins a majority of the nation’s votes will win the presidential election.

  16. pitouze says:

    Melenchon and Lepen DID NOT campaing against EU & Euro ! They live from the European parliament and their program’s budget didn’t include anything about leaving the EU or Euro. Only one proposed the Frexit : Asselineau who only got 0,9%. All other presidential candidate will have to apply what the EU says about economical & social topics (aka GOPE in french, can be read fully here : )

  17. HIHO says:

    I recall when in 2002 , the thought of the FN making it into the second round made me feel sick. But now, I think that If I were french I would end up voting for Le Pen.

    I think that it is misleading to tag her as the far-right candidate and Macron as the centrist. Looking at their respective economic programs this classification does not hold water. Macron is in fact the far-right guy. A brutal neoliberal in sheep’s clothing. But hey, since he is a globalist (whatever that means) some people see him as a moderate.

    The funny thing is that left-wing voters will give the victory to Macron, only to stop Le Pen, not realizing who they should fear the most. I guess that it is the same “lesser-evil” idea that has always hijacked political change in the United States. Shame on them.

    I do not know what would happen if the FN actually won the elections. But keeping business as usual seems the worst possible option for France and the other “southern” european countries and especially for its working classes.

    • Gershon says:

      Macron is in fact the far-right guy. A brutal neoliberal in sheep’s clothing. But hey, since he is a globalist (whatever that means) some people see him as a moderate.

      Macron is a bankster puppet. He like the rest of his ilk will govern for the exclusive benefit of a corrupt and venal .1% in the financial sector at the expense of everyone else. If France elects him, then France deserves all that will follow.

  18. Gershon says:

    Our corporate media border collies are assuring the sheeple that the nationalist challenge to the globalists is now off the table. Yeah, we’ll see about that as the 99% continue to lose ground economically and realize there is no future for their children on the Incorporated Global Plantation.

  19. Dan Romig says:

    The ‘political class’ and Establishment will rally around Macron, but will the masses of France swing to Le Pen’s siren song of ditching the EU and returning France’s independent sovereignty? If Le Pen wins, there will be quite the battle lines drawn from Brussels.

    As many comments have stated, Macron is part and parcel to the Rothschild clan, and I wonder if/how that plays out to the voters?

    From my little world, I am happy to see my BASF and Siemens stock shares up nicely today.

  20. Gershon says:

    Europe’s richest just got more so as French voters back a water carrier for the banksters.

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