16 April 2017

Another 65-year-old Leftwing Populist

The French presidential election is getting closer. The contest previously looked like a two horse race between Macron and Le Pen. However, it now looks as if it'll be a close first round between four candidates. One in particular has gained enormous ground in the last few weeks. That candidate is the far left MEP Jean-Luc Mélenchon. What we have now is a tight first round between Macron, Le Pen, Fillon and Mélenchon. 

Over the last few weeks the far left Mélenchon has gained around ten point in opinion polls and is now vying for third place against the conservative François Fillon. Mélenchon’s surprising support has come as the socialist candidate Benoît Hamon has dropped to around 8 per cent in the polls. Hamon is President Hollande’s successor since the incumbent chose not to stand for another term. The exchange in points between the two left candidates has surprised many, but Hamon has already stated that if Mélenchon makes it into the second round, his supporters should vote for the 65-year-old MEP.

Mélenchon is currently France’s most popular politician according to polls. However, his politics would be divisive in any western democracy. 

  • A withdrawal from the European Union if treaty changes are not made
  • A withdrawal from NATO
  • Closer ties with Russia
  • A 16 per cent increase in the national minimum wage
  • A 35-hour week
  • A massive increase in public spending of over 170 billion euros over the next five years
  • 90 tax on incomes of 400,000 euros a year
  • Lower the retirement age to 60
  • Move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050
  • Make the right to housing a constitutional right
  • Nine months national service for all citizens under 25 
  • Nationalise utility companies

So, yes, Mélenchon is radical. He is supported by the communist party. However, his radical politics are making ground and his support has increased enormously over the last two or three weeks. Currently, no candidate has more than 25 per cent in opinion polls. Le Pen and Macron tie for first with between 20 and 25 per cent, and Mélenchon and Fillon tie in third with between 18 and 20 per cent. If you are unaware of the politics of the others, Le Pen is the leader of the Front National. She is the far right candidate that everyone is talking about and is dogmatic about leaving the European Union and completely ending immigration. Macron is a third party candidate and has the Blair/Clinton/Obama personality. His politics are completely centrist. Fillon is the conservative candidate and is currently under investigation for corruption. (He allegedly employed his wife with EU money but she didn't do any work…)

The situation in France will affect the rest of the world. Why? If Le Pen or Mélenchon get in, they will both aim for France’s departure from the European Union. If France leaves the EU, the euro will go into turmoil and cause shockwaves around the world. This will probably lead to the end of the European Union itself. I know, that sounds apocalyptic and reactionary but it’s probably true. 

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