Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Observations on the French election: Poulet Roti is better than a platter of merde.

Now it begins. In the first round of voting, French voters rejected two traditional candidates, one from the left and one from the right, in favor of a newcomer (Emmanuel Macron) and the head of a far right nationalist party (Marine Le Pen). The final numbers were 24% (Macron), 21.3% (Le Pen), 20% and 19.6% for the traditional candidates.

Le Pen, should she win, is expected to do a Frexit, thus further destabilizing the EU, withdraw from NATO (thus threatening European security, and cuddling up to Russia (which already is bankrolling her campaign). And that seriously rattles the traditional parties and, I suspect, French voters generally.

The second round, run-off vote will be on May 7th. What might we predict? Here are polling results from the HuffPollster Tuesday morning. Assuming that Le Pen worries the average French voter, we would expect Macron to poll far better than Le Pen. Indeed, he does.

Surveys give Macron a significant lead - Macron leads Le Pen by about 26 points, 63 percent to 37 percent, in Pollster’s aggregate of runoff polling as of Tuesday morning. No survey to date has shown Macron with less than a 16-point edge. [Pollster chart]

Could France be the next shock election result?- Nate Silver: “Macron is an overwhelming favorite to win the runoff on May 7. But we’re likely to hear two weeks of punditry that draws misleading comparisons between Le Pen, President Trump and Brexit — and that exaggerates Le Pen’s chances as a result. Although vote counts are still being finalized, the first-round result should be a good one for pollsters, which correctly had Macron and Le Pen in the top two positions….[W]hile there were plenty of precedents for a polling error large enough to elect Trump, there aren’t all that many examples of a 26-point polling error, which is what Le Pen would need….[T]here’s no evidence that candidates such as Le Pen systematically outperform their polls. Across dozens of European elections since 2012, in fact, nationalist and right-wing parties have been as likely to underperform their polls as to overperform them.” [538, more on Le Pen’s chances from The Economist]

We might also expect Le Pen to go on the offensive and she did. Le Pen Calls Parties in France ‘Completely Rotten’ as They Unite to Fend Her Off.

John Cassidy reports on the post-election political support for Macron in Vive L’Europe! A Macron win would give the E. U. a lifeline.

On Sunday night, Macron received endorsements from two of the candidates he’d just defeated: François Fillon, of the center-right Republican Party; and Benoît Hamon, of the center-left Socialist Party. On Monday, President François Hollande also expressed support for Macron, saying, “What is at stake is France’s make-up, its unity, its membership of Europe and its place in the world.” (The far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who got almost twenty per cent of the vote—finishing within two percentage points of Le Pen—withheld his endorsement, but he is also expected to come out against the National Front leader.)

The French need to lend lots more support to Macron given what happened in the 2016 United States election says Hadley Freeman writing in The Guardian: Le Pen is a far-right Holocaust revisionist. Macron isn’t. Hard choice?

That … take on the French election, one reflected by the Monday front pages of both the Daily Mail and the Times in this country (England), was the most obviously idiotic, given that Le Pen comes from a political dynasty built on the tenacious foundation of antisemitism, racism and fascism. But I’d like to talk a little about the distaste for Macron on the left, members of which would doubtless insist that Macron is NOT centre-left. But those of us who listened in despair last year to American friends loftily declare there was no substantive difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been here before. Clinton was “more dangerous” than Trump, I believe: how’s that statement holding up for you, Susan Sarandon?

I know a little about the effects of fascism in France. My grandmother, her three brothers, their mother and cousins lived in Paris in the 30s. My grandmother managed to get out in time, reluctantly moving to the US just before the war and leaving behind her fiance who was soon killed. Of her three brothers, two were sent to the camps where one was murdered and from which another escaped. Her oldest brother hid in his apartment throughout the war but was shopped to the authorities three times by his French neighbours – each time, through miraculous interventions, he escaped. A cousin paid someone to row him and his wife to Spain; the boatman took their money and drowned them, orphaning two children. I knew one of those children when he was an adult, and sadness always hung over him. As it did all of the surviving members of my French family, including my grandmother.

A week before the US election David Sedaris wrote about undecided American voters, and he compared them to passengers on a plane being presented with their meal options: “‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ [the flight attendant] asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?’ To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

Those are the options in this election now, and they are options everyone who remembers the US election will have seen on the menu before. When an election comes down to a binary choice you are not just voting for someone but against someone else, and when you start carping about the chicken, you are validating the shit. Get over yourself. Eat the chicken.

I wish we, in the United States, had taken that advice. Poulet Roti is far better than a platter of merde.

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