May 4, 2017

PARIS – France is holding its breath as this weekend’s second-round presidential vote approaches. The first round vote on 23 April left two winners: National Front leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Polls show newcomer Macron with an overwhelming 60/40 lead over Marine Le Pen. But many French are very nervous that a surprise electoral upset may occur if undecided voters and shut-out leftists throw their votes to Le Pen’s National Front Party.

Le Pen has vowed to ditch the Euro, pull out of the European Union and make life miserable for France’s five million impoverished, marginalized Muslims. She might withdraw from NATO and make nice with Moscow. The rest of the EU and the US are watching Le Pen’s rise with dismay. Call her Madame Trump.

Most French national elections are like bandages ripped off a long-festering wound. They produce painful memories from dark periods in France’s turbulent past, most notably the 1930’s and 1940’s, when Left and Right were at one another’s throats.

In this election, France’s traditional hard-line Left and Right parties have collapsed, being replaced by the National Front and the 39-year old Macron’s newly confected political party, ‘En Marche’, that has no presence in the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament.

Marine Le Pen is a very intelligent woman. She is the reincarnation of her father, Jean-Marie, whom I’ve interviewed, but with the rough edges sanded down. No more mentions of the WWII Jewish Holocaust being a ‘detail of history,’ as the old boy claimed. She is diluted far rightism. As a result, the Front’s ratings have soared: no more skin heads and hooligans. She projects maternalism and common sense blended into hard-line nationalism.

Last week, Madame Le Pen declared that ‘finance’ is a primary enemy of France. Bankers are now lumped with Muslims as dire threats to the republic. Outgoing President Francois Hollande made the same warning last year, but no one paid him any attention.

Coming from the hard-right Le Pen, it’s a bombshell. ‘Finance’ is really political code for Jews who dominate parts of France’s media, banking and industry. France has Europe’s largest Jewish population, followed by Ukraine.

Le Pen’s gun sights are trained squarely on the youthful Macron who may, it is rumored, have some Jewish background, and squarely on his former employer, the mighty French Rothschild banking empire.

The Front whispers that Macron was fabricated by the Rothschilds as a bland, malleable politician spouting platitudes and bromides. Traditional Catholic conservative Francois Fillon was not responsive enough for the French Rothschilds, it is said. French do not trust bankers or other financiers. During the 1940’s, France’s Vichy government repressed bankers and rounded up Jews for deportation to Germany. In 1937-1941, many if not most French saw Stalinist Communists as a far greater threat than Hitler’s National Socialist Germany. In fact, some French and other Europeans, including Ukrainians and Baltic peoples, waited to be ‘liberated’ by the Nazis from the Soviet threat.

Today, a lot of French wonder ‘who is Monsieur Macron, and from where did he come?’ One is reminded of silver-tongued US candidate Barack Obama, who rocketed out of obscurity to become president. Who bankrolled him and blazed a political path for him? The Deep Government, no doubt.

Who then is behind Macron if not the Rothschilds? Maybe the MEDEF big business association, maybe both. Are they making sure that the awful Madame Le Pen does not win, keep some of her promises and run France into financial and political ruin? If she wins, the hard right will surely blame the ‘financiers,’ harking back to the ugly 1930’s.

Whatever the outcome, France faces a rough ride. Macron vows to lower taxes and cut civil service employment and perks. The Left vows to fight any labor and social reforms tooth and nail. Every French president since Charles De Gaulle has failed to break the power of France’s surly unions. Though not great in membership, they can shut down France’s trains, roads, airports, food logistics, and power plants with a few phone calls. Militant farmers can block roads and thwart food shipments.

France’s labor unions have been at war with the government in Paris since 1948. Unless their inordinate power is broken, no significant economic and social reforms will be possible. The big question: who do the unions dislike the most, Macron or Le Pen?

Both claim they will shake up lethargic France. But French really don’t want to be shaken up. Seventy percent still spend their five-week annual vacations in France. They know there is no finer or more beautiful nation anywhere else, even with Madame Le Pen snorting fire and brimstone, and Macron offering don’t worry be happy placebos.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2017

This post is in: France


  1. Mike Smith says:

    Korea is the other election that is going to produce alot of change… I like the idea of bringing back the Sunshine policies of engagement, and maybe giving the North an economic stake in peace. When you look at it in contrast to US led policies of isolation and pushing the NKs into a corner…. what is going to have the better effect ? When the Americans stage massive military exercises, fly strategic bombers along the border, and issue threats …. then condemn the NKs for trying to arms themselves. Makes you wonder if things backed off for a few years if a better result might be found.

    • excellent… and a far better solution than the alternative. I was really impressed with Moon’s indicating that he wanted dialogue with N.Korea, maybe, much to the chagrin of the Americans.

  2. It’s likely that M. Macron will be the victor. What spawned the unusual political race is the dissatisfaction the Frenchies have with their political system.
    It is surprising that the voter turnout is at an all time low… greater dissatisfaction? Possibly that Macron and Le Pen have further alienated voters.
    Governments, all over the world, seem to have slipped into positions where they no longer reflect the needs or wishes of the electorate.

    • From the AP, “French voters elected centrist Emmanuel Macron as the country’s youngest president ever on Sunday, delivering a resounding victory to the unabashedly pro-European former investment banker and strengthening France’s place as a central pillar of the European Union.”

  3. Mike Smith says:

    It sounds like France has the same problems with its democracy as Canada and the US. We wind up electing governments either by voting in whomever we hate the least, or base our decisions on one or two issues which have a higher personal meaning. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to take economic policy from candidate A, foreign policy from candidate B, and have it all implemented with the leadership of candidate C ?
    From everything I have read the Swiss have managed to put forward a superior system where you can take the best idea on a issue and that becomes policy instead of party dogma. They have more parties offering more choice forming coalition governments that can even be overridden with petitions forcing either changes or referendums. Four official languages… In Canada we have enough troubles with two…
    Anybody here live or have lived in Switzerland ? This system seems almost too good to be real.

  4. So how does a 39 year old political neophyte jump from zero to the favoured candidate for president of one of the worlds most important countries in less than a year?

    Some very deep pockets and some very powerful printing presses have to be behind him. On top of that, his personal baggage isn’t the usual scandal, it is just plain weird.

    Weird, inexperienced and unknown. It takes a huge and dominant machine to put that package in the president’s chair.

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