16 June 2024

President Macron’s professed purpose in dissolving the National Assembly was to achieve a “clarification” of the political picture in France. People had supposedly become confused about what they were supporting. Are things clearer now?

Serge Klarsfeld, the famed Nazi-hunter, is supporting the Rassemblement National, a party founded by an officer of the Waffen SS and the man remembered for his antisemitic pun on the name of Michel Durafour (“Durafour crématoire”). A “clarification” to be sure: we know now that we are in an entirely new political universe.

Accordingly, a New Popular Front has formed in the hope of preventing a landslide victory by the RN, bringing together François Hollande, Bernard Cazeneuve, and Manuel Valls with their erstwhile sworn enemies Manuel Bompard and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Were it enacted, the program of the NPF (roll back the retirement age to 60, raise the minimum wage, price freezes on essentials) would obviously incur unintended consequences that should give any rational voter pause. My heart is with Raphaël Glucksmann, who has given the NPF a human face; my head wonders if the victory of such une alliance contre nature would not merely deepen the populist reaction owing to its predictable economic effects.

As for the RN, its spokespersons, nonplussed by the sudden proximity of power, are struggling mightily to figure out which previous positions have been rendered inoperative by the sudden advent of good fortune. Will they now postpone the repeal of retirement reform they had once advocated? Was forbidding dual nationality now the order of the day, as spokesperson Sébastien Chenu said on C8, or was it off the table by order of Marine Le Pen, as he declared shortly afterward? All of France was grateful for the “clarificatiion.”

Meanwhile, the Macronistes, having had the rug pulled out from under them by their chief, seem to be in total disarray. Yaël Braun-Pivet, the ex-president of the National Assembly, appeared before the hostile tribunal of Europe 1’s Grand Rendez-vous only to reveal her utter embarrassment at having to defend Macron’s decision to dissolve the parliament. Minority government was working, she protested with a whimper and a hint of self-justification: we deputies, hommes et femmes de bonne volonté, were making it work. But our impetuous president has now placed us in the impossible position of having to defend the muddled compromises necessary to make it work in the name of a false clarity that cannot possibly be achieved in a country as divided as ours. I am, of course, putting words in her mouth. She herself could never have formulated such a paradox and was reduced to hoping against hope that voters would find both the NPF and the RN even less palatable than they find Macron.

If “clarity” has been achieved, it is that the emperor is clearly without clothes, and so are his would-be successors.



  • bernard says:

    Yaël Braun-Pivet whose views I do not share on the whole except where terrorist pogrom is concerned is perhaps one of the more honorable members of the Renaissance camp and has actually done a very good job on the whole as head of parliament. That’s two reasons why Macron did not consult her before throwing his tantrum and making the move that likely enables the extreme right to get into office.

    Elsewhere, when parties have to suddenly scramble without warning, make electoral deals, nominate candidates and write up some program over the course of less than a week, it is not entirely surprising that some incoherence remains. Once the election plays out and some government can hopefully (?) be formed, no doubt these programs will be essentially binned and policy will be dictated by what is and is not possible. And I would suspect that most electors understand this and will not pay that much attention to the so-called programs even though they are the favored topic of so-called TV commentators.

    Take for instance the retirement issue. You can abrogate the previous reform and return the legal retirement age to say 62 years (the Front Populaire says 60 but that’s of course a joke), on the grounds that this reform was a reform typical of the right which “punished” the working class more than it “punished” the elite class. This however does not mean that you do not reform retirement. You can implement a reform that punishes the working class less compare to the elite class such as increasing the number of years of work to qualify for full retirement and some other measures. And you can involve unions and employer organisations as was the case prior to the current I-know-everything genius of the Opal coast.

  • FrédéricLN says:

    “clarity” is, at least in “political French” (clarté, clarifier, clarification, *and not* éclairé, éclaircir, éclaircissement), a constant substitute for “weakness”. You can’t live of clear water only. Very “clear” are the Emperor’s new clothes.

    The opposite of “clarity” is “union”. “Voters expect us to unite” is the new “I’m strong enough not to tell you what I intend to do”.

  • Robinson says:

    Whatever concern and anguish this election may cause, at least we have the consolation of knowing that François Hollande is flying to his country’s rescue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *