Saturday, 22 April 2017

Election Time

The posters are up outside every mairie.   All the candidates for the president of France.  Unusually the incumbent isn't running - perhaps M Hollande feels he has little chance and he is probably right. 

Round the Pas de Calais, Marine le Pen has posters everywhere.   It probably helps to be the only woman in the race and therefore instantly recognisable.  It probably doesn't help that two strokes of a black marker pen give her a Hitler moustache.   So her supporters have been tearing off her upper lip.   FN posters must have been either defaced or mutilated all over France. 

Le Pen has done well in softening the image of the Front Nationale.   Under her father Jean-Marie it was unashamedly racist and fascist.  She has worked hard to lock the nasty old Nazi up in a box.  Is she now electable?  Much more so than before.  She has skilfully applied make up to the pig so you can hardly tell it isn't kosher. 

The socialist candidate (what IS his name?)  is pretty much dead in the water, suffering from the unpopularity of the current government and having his support on the left eaten away by M Melenchon, the Corbyn of France.   Not to mention M Poutou, a gift to francophone political satirists. 

The right wing candidate has been caught with his fingers in the till, allegedly employing his wife and kids at public expense to do nothing whatsoever.   M Fillon was the front runner until the judge took an interest.  Now he is languishing way behind.   Too late to quit and let another man of the right have a go.  Not that he wants to.  

Which leaves Emmanuel Macron, something of an unknown quantity.  As is traditional, he has set up his own political party  En Marche!  It's broadly centrist.  And collecting support from both left and right. Hope so.  Can he beat Le Pen?

The way it works is that anyone can stand for the presidency if they can get enough mayors to nominate them.  I think 500 mayors have to sign the paperwork, which sounds like a lot but every commune in France has a mayor; that IS a lot. 

So there are something like 16 candidates standing from across the political spectrum.  On Sunday the people of France vote in the first round, and if one of them gets a majority, he or she becomes President of France.   Nobody expects this to happen. 

The expectation is that Marine Le Pen will win the first round but not an overall majority.  She and the man who has the second largest vote - and that currently looks like Emmanuel Macron  - go through to the second round in a couple of weeks time, and all the others are eliminated. 

In the next vote,  everyone shudders at the thought of President Le Pen and votes for Macron.  He wins and the Republic stays on an even keel.  But after Brexit and Trump, nobody is quite certain. 

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