The Coming French Revolution

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Zaki Laidi via Project Syndicate,

In a few weeks, France will elect its next president. Given the French executive’s considerable powers, including the authority to dissolve the National Assembly, the presidential election, held every five years, is France’s most important. But the stakes are higher than ever this time.

The two frontrunners are the far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, who served as economy minister under Socialist President François Hollande, but is running as an independent. If, as expected, Le Pen and Macron face off in the election’s second round on May 7, it will be a political watershed for France: the first time in 60 years that the main parties of the left and the right are not represented in the second round.

France has not endured such political turmoil since 1958, when, in the midst of the Algerian War, General Charles de Gaulle came to power and crafted the Constitution of the Fifth Republic. That shift, like any great political rupture, was driven by a combination of deep underlying dynamics and the particular circumstances of the moment.

Today is no different. First, the underlying dynamic: the rise, as in most developed countries nowadays, of popular mistrust of elites, feelings of disempowerment, fear of economic globalization and immigration, and anxiety over downward social mobility and growing inequality.

These sentiments – together with the French state’s historical role in fostering national identity and economic growth – have contributed to a surge in support for the National Front. Le Pen’s nationalist, xenophobic message and populist economic policies resemble those of the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Although support for the National Front has been growing for more than a decade, the party has so far been kept out of power by France’s two-round electoral system, which enables voters to unite against it in the second round. And, given the National Front’s inability to make alliances, power has remained in the hands of the main parties of the left and the right, even as France has moved toward a tripartite political system.

Now, Macron is taking advantage of current circumstances to blow up the tripartite system. Macron’s great insight, which few initially recognized, was that the right-left divide was blocking progress, and that the presidential election amounted to a golden opportunity to move beyond it, without the help of an organized political movement. At a time when the French people are increasingly rejecting the traditional party system, Macron’s initial weakness quickly became his strength.

It helped that, as Macron himself recognized, both the right and the left have fragmented in recent years. This is particularly true on the left, where a clear division has emerged between a reformist current, led by former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and traditionalists, represented by the Socialist Party candidate, Benoît Hamon. The Socialists’ problems are compounded by the existence of a radical left working actively to eliminate them, much as Spain’s left-wing Podemos party has sought to replace the Socialist Workers’ Party there.

The source of the mainstream right’s travails is less clear. Its forces remain generally united on economic and social issues. In fact, until a few months ago, its presidential candidate, the Republicans’ François Fillon, was expected to lead the pack in the first round by a wide margin. But a scandal over his personal conduct (he allegedly paid his wife and children for non-existent jobs while he was a member of parliament) damaged his candidacy – probably fatally.

Whatever the reason for the right’s decline, Macron has benefited substantially from it, as well as from the rifts afflicting the left. Now, there is a real chance the young independent could be elected president on May 7, upending the Fifth Republic’s political system.

But an electoral victory is just a first step. To govern in France’s hybrid presidential-parliamentary system, Macron would need to secure a majority in the National Assembly. This opens the possibility of two scenarios.

In the first scenario, Macron quickly gains a parliamentary majority, as French voters seek to reinforce his mandate in June’s National Assembly election. This is conceivable, but not certain: it is here where the lack of an organized political movement on the ground remains a weakness for Macron.

That is why the June election could give rise to the second scenario: cohabitation with a parliamentary coalition comprising a small right-wing faction, a large centrist faction, and a hopelessly divided left-wing faction. Such a development would be familiar in many European countries. But in France, where republicanism gave rise to the left-right ideological spectrum that shapes politics throughout the West today, it would be a genuine revolution – one that could spell the end of the Socialist Party.

Given the symbolic power of the left-right divide, France’s voters and political leaders alike have long tended to frame virtually all of the country’s problems in ideological terms. The public and its politicians have little experience with government based on broad coalition agreements. This partly explains why the political system becomes gridlocked, sometimes making reforms difficult to implement, and why Macron’s message, which includes clear reform plans, is so unusual for France.

If Le Pen somehow comes out on top, French politics – not to mention the European Union – will be turned upside. But even the ostensibly moderate Macron represents, in his own way, a truly radical stance. With both candidates likely to make it to the second round, France is on the verge of a political revolution, regardless of who wins.

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Iconoclast421's picture

Le Pen wont win. France is destined to become a giant no go zone. It shall serve as a fine example of how cancer is also a sociological disease.

Looney's picture

Place your bets:

<<<   Le Pen

<<<   Le Pencil-dick

Looney   ;-)

JRobby's picture

"Macron’s great insight, which few initially recognized, was that the right-left divide was blocking progress"


This is by design fellow "citizen's"

Pandelis's picture

everyone seems to be either on a verge of a revolution or slaughtering a.k.a. war ... armstrong i think has a name for it, cycles or something like that ... it makes it more legit i guess ... whatever

Mtnrunnr's picture

Trump bombing Syria seems to have helped LePenis

chiswickcat's picture

The opposite. Trump bombing has made him a run of the mill neocon-globalist. He used to be an inspiration for LePen supporters. 'Nationalism'

NoDebt's picture

Over/under on LePen actually doing any of the shit she's talking about, even if she somehow wins?  Not feeling super solid on this whole "campaign promises" thing right now, even from an outsider who claims to represent change.


Yukon Cornholius's picture

Le Pen is a lifelong politician. She knows not of the plight of the common Frenchman. A barrister in attorney's clothing.

Mimir's picture

And growing up in a Parisian million dollar mansion. 

AVmaster's picture

I think Brexit guaranteed Le Pen...


We all know how these so called "polls" and "Odds" of winning places work after the Trump Show...

(Hint: They don't)


SmackDaddy's picture

One of the first orders of business of the First French Empire in a conquered county was to emancipate the joos. 

HRClinton's picture

They will get EMMANUEL. 

Which means "God help us".

Mimir's picture

Not really, but :"God is with us"

falak pema's picture

Like in God created woman. Emmanuelle was a soft porn movie serial.

Strizzi's picture

and if she were winning , she would be Trumponized aka flip-flop 180 degree on every promise


OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

Oh, look, last time France has a crisis like this (1958) it was also caused by: Muslims

Read: The French Intifada, if you want the facts. And no it's not just some pro or anti-Semitic diatribe. The French felt so guilty for slaughtering Algerians that they gave their country to them.

Demographics is destiny, the Muslim birthrate is much higher than the rest of France. Marseilles is already 40% Muslim. So just wait a generation and they can remove the statues in Notre Dame and replace them with Arabic calligraphy, like Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. And Yves St. Laurent can send his girls down the runway wearing a tent...don't worry you can see if they're hot by looking through the eye slit.

Lea's picture

What is great about 'Mercans is that half of them are as dumb as their ignoramus president, meaning as a lamppost. Comments like yours are evidence this is obviously part of the country's DNA.

So, instead of trying to understand things you can't, what about going back to thinking about beautiful pieces of chocolate cake?

Bwana's picture

I get real tired hearing about the Muslim birth rate. If their citizens were subsidized like the Muslims they could afford to have more children. The average Muslim family gets more in tax free benefits here in the US than the average family works for and pays taxes on. And once again the more children they have the more they get paid. Why are the American citizens taxed to death and the Muslims get a free ride on the taxpayers dollar.

Sirius Wonderblast's picture

They would probably tell you its a form of jihad.


Ghost of Porky's picture

The French are far behind the curve. They only recently discovered deodorant.

Looney's picture


Discovering it and USING it are about 200 years apart.  ;-)


chiswickcat's picture

Before they discovered Clorets.

Mimir's picture

Discovered by the Egyptians and used by the Greeks and all over the Roman Empire, before America even was discovered. The use of deodorants was considered as a sin by the Catholic Church which favored the natural human smell , because God wanted it like that: the smell of holiness.

zimboe's picture

They only legalized soap in 1964.

biker's picture
biker (not verified) Apr 17, 2017 12:42 PM

Trump fucked it up for France
starting ww3 & dropping a thermo-NUCLEUR bomb bigger than hiromshima last week in Pakistan.

Trump l'a baisée pour la France, Il a commencé ww3
et Déposer une bombe thermo-NUCLEUR plus grand que hiromshima la semaine dernière au Pakistan
Draft the Fags!
USA guys will love putting camo on, they have so much practice!

HalinCA's picture

"dropping a thermo-NUCLEUR bomb bigger than hiromshima" ....


No, no, no  ....  Jesuz, someone needs to stun you to get your attention ...

OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

Trump didn't order the MOAB, he had no say in it. The Pentagon did it. They always ran the place, now it's out in the open.

City_Of_Champyinz's picture

What the fuck are you talking about??


chiswickcat's picture

Well, I'll explain. Trump was an inspiration for LePen voters, until he started acting like a globalist. Now LePen voters are left feeling if Trump can turn so soon, the inspiration is gone.


Le Biker - your mother smells like elderberries, and wears army boots. 

I fart in your general direction.

Weren't you Cankles' speech writer, or an NSA spook in your previous life ?

Props for spelling " NUCLEUR " like 'ole Georgie Bush though, I guess.  

EuroPox's picture

Please let it be Le Pen and Melenchon in the second round...

hooligan2009's picture

if you think american and british politicians and parties are appalling, french politics makes them look like gods.

whoever wins, the impact on improving the french economy will be horribly negative.

chance would be a fine thing that politicians campaigned to reduce debt and taxes - a feat impossible for them - what on earth could disavow a politician from being a pig feeding at the taxpayers trough, given entrenched (and failed) electoral systems that only reward elections and not delivery of quality.

zzzz88's picture

the usa revolution will come first

Harry Lightning's picture

Let them eat quiche !

bluskyes's picture

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

Mario55's picture

Nice political quote because it can please just anybody !

falak pema's picture

JFK got the violence in Dallas so it was self fulfilling.

GiveMeStrength's picture

Except , that, was NOT a revolution. It wasn't even a changing of the guard. That was a warning. A warning from both the POTUS of who is really in charge, and a warning from the people in charge, of what happens to people who give warnings about them.

Have to say it's been rather effective detterent, for some, but the spreading of this truth each time it happens, just makes their efforts look rather obvious and pathetic. How many subversive actions and outright intimidations have had to occur just so that they can have their own version of "utopia".

Temple of Truth's picture

Problem is - even if Le Pen wins and isn't a traitor like Trump, still seems like she couldn't do much. All she needs is to pull the plug on the euro... the domino effect would implode the EUSSR. But can she even do that without a parliamentary majority?

dark fiber's picture

I don't think she will it will Austria all over again.  In fact the French government has officially stated they will pull off an Austria. 

Yars Revenge's picture

Macron is a former Rothschild banker.

He's not changing jack shit.

Internet-is-Beast's picture

Except that he will double or triple immigration.

thecondor's picture

France is dead,,,,,Europe is dead. 

Mimir's picture

And you are obviously asleep. 

earleflorida's picture

france has been in a neo-political revolution since the early years of the 20th century. period!

the USA still shutters at the name of 'De Gaulle' :  Ever wonder why NATO is located in Belgium?

Eisenhower was once ordered to assassinate de`Gaulle, butt-- it gets complicated for a us. gen. that admired a true war hero!!! 

Mimir's picture

Ever wonder why NATO is located in Belgium?

Like the European Commission you mean ?

Because de Gaulle didn't want any of them anywhere near Paris.

quasi_verbatim's picture

If it's not Le Pen it will just be some Frog.

chiswickcat's picture

All the top five candidates names end in '-on'. (Harmon is in fifth place) except for LePen. Therefore she is the odd one out and therefore she will win.

Mimir's picture

Le Pen is a "frog", so what is your point ???

falak pema's picture

I'd never eat her legs even in the best sauce.