I'm sitting out in the sun to write this and I heard a distinctive "peep-peep".
The dust settles
As predicted, yesterday's French election has led to a run-off between Macron (centre right) and Le Pen (national front).
The big surprise, however, was what happened with the rest. Basically the top three results were Macron (the incumbent) who finished with 27.84% of the vote. In second place was Le Pen (far right) who gained 23.15% of the vote. And in third place was Mélenchon (far left) who gained 21.95% of the vote.
Vote result pie chart.
The fourth place position went to a person even further to the right than the National Front, Éric Zemmour, with 7.07%. Zemmour is a well known supporter of the "great replacement" theory (that the French population is being replaced by non-Europeans), and he has a number of fines relating to racial discrimination and incitement of hate. It says something about France's liberal politics that such a person can even run for the position of President. It says something about the massive failure of contemporary politics that he comes fourth.
In fifth position is the party "Les Républicains", the party founded by Sarkozy in 2015 from the remains of the former UMP (that being founded by Chirac). This party, roughly akin to the Conservatives in British politics, was one of the major parties in France. They ended the night with an appalling 4.78%.
But even worse than that, and even worse than the straight-up hammer and sickle Communist Party (2.28%) was the Parti Socialiste, the other major party, roughly akin to Labour, which was the party of Mitterand, Jospin, and Hollande. They... may cease to exist after 52 years, after managing to gain a mere 616,651 votes which translates to 1.75%. There were almost as many blank votes.
It is deeply worrying that France is turning towards the extremes. It may be, in 2027, that unless something impressive happens, the run-off will be between the extreme left and the extreme right. Neither is really a solution worthy of serious discussion, but we should remember "don't piss off the French". After all, look what they did to their royalty. ☺
As for the next two weeks, I really hope Macron is listening, as the votes for him were 9,785,578 and for Le Pen 8,136,369. The number of abstentions from the electorate was 12,824,135.
Putting this together, it implies that the second round will be won by Macron with around 41.3% of the vote, Le Pen with 36.4%, and 16% abstaining. This is within the margin of error so it isn't easy to tell who will actually win, however it seems that a lot of the calculations assume Mélenchon's supporters will vote for Le Pen due to hating Macron, something Mélenchon himself has sought to rule out by imploring his voters "not one single vote for Le Pen". It does make one wonder, though, if far left voters would ratrher vote for a far right candidate than the centrist guy they don't like.
Yes, I really hope Macron is listening. Not just to have a swift change of tactics in order to assure himself a win in two weeks time, but also paying close attention to the death knell sounding for the traditional parties that have led the Fifth Republic since its inception.
Imagine, in British politics, where Labour and the Tories both are taken out back and beaten senseless. That's what's going on here.
I get that it is extremely unfair that public service employees can retire at 55, and that keeping retirement at 62(ish) may not be sustainable. Well, let it drop. It's aggravating people, leading to protests, and frankly there's a hell of a lot of more important things on voter's minds.
First up, the level of unemployment is a major grievance. Especially youth unemployment that stands at around 23% (far higher than the EU average). This, sadly, goes hand in hand with immigration which makes us foreigners an easy target to dump anger on to. People like Le Pen are quite happy to stoke that fire.
The problem is much more complex than that. There are a number of Romanians at the place I work. And Turks. Moroccans, and one Brit (guess who). The thing is, for most of the employees, the hours suck (5.30am-1pm, 1pm-8.30pm alternating weekly), the wages suck (SMIC+1% which isn't a lot), it's a job that - on the production line - has endless mindless repetitive movements. If Saturdays are worked and paid, they are paid 125%. But if Saturdays are worked and not paid, they are just counted as hours (with no extra for it being a Saturday).
We have had a big recruitment drive recently as we're producing more and more stuff (which is good for us), and plenty of people come... and plenty of people go. You know who tends to stay? Foreigners.
Maybe the French have too high expectations? One of the girls working a machine where she spends seven hours a day feeding little flat discs into the thing, has BAC+2 in social care (or something). That means she graduated high school (Baccalaureate is higher than GCSE as it's usually taken around the age of 18, so it's more like an A-level) and then did two years of further education. "Bac+2" is a fairly common job requirement. And her job is... not something worthy of her education. But it's the job she was able to get.
A lot of people seem less willing, one a few years back stormed out after five minutes yelling "you don't pay me enough to do this shit" (literal quote, translated). Well, it's the same pay practically everybody else gets.
Next up, the "cost of living". A girl at work that I talked to earlier today said that the reason the main parties failed so hard is because they seem to have the perception that the SMIC is three grand a month, so they have no idea what it is like when it comes to a choice of eating or filling up the car. The costs of both having skyrocketed in recent weeks.
Everything is going up in price - food, fuel, electricity, taxes... but wages are staying the same.
Which leads on to the general perception that politics is corrupt, favours the rich, and Macron is quite happy to do deals to let his buddies dodge tax on their millions while the little guy has to find an extra hundred euros.
Sound familiar? People said pretty much the same thing about Cameron and "stuck it to the man" by voting against him in the EU referendum. Probably a few lessons to be learned in that now these same people are screwed in a country out of the EU (not that many have accepted or even understood what they've lost), and it's a different set of Tories in power, these ones not even bothering to hide their corruption and dishonesty. Plus ça change...
All of this leads to the realisation that the French political system is broken. Sure, it may be that there is a lot of supranational influence coming via the likes of Facebook and Tiktok, but when the voters are listening to the voices of the extremes, it's time for the centrist parties to listen to that and respond to that... before the electorate actually puts one of them in power. It doesn't matter that the next election could kick them out after five years. Trump only got four and look at the damage he caused.
Because if one of the extremes gets into power, Frexit may well be a thing (both left and right are anti-EU and isolationalist, just for different reasons), and look how well that's going for the UK.
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|J.G.Harston, 13th April 2022, 02:03
The entry qualification inflation thing has been going for decades now. In my sector, kids are being brainwashed into believing they have to spend 30 grand on a degree in order to get a job..... changing printer cartridges and resetting passwords. And the dispair of it, is the employers actually insist on applicants having a degree to be considered for a job changing printer cartridges and resetting passwords.
Even worserer, in talking to some of these youngsters when I encounter them, the "degree" course they've paid 30 grand for hasn't taught them much more than.... changing printer cartridges and resetting passwords.
(holds head in hands)
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