Macron's Remarkable Success

What can one say? So far it is a walk over. President Macron is getting what Theresa May wanted. There is still a week for things to go wrong but all the signs are that he will get the biggest parliamentary majority of the post-war period. To do so with a party that was only created since the last election is truly remarkable.

Sense of Inevitability

At the same time one has to note that the turnout is unusually low. I think that what this indicates is that, in general, the French realise that they have to embrace the kind of reforms that Macron advocates, even though they don't really much want to. They may have to actually collectively pay for the services they consume, work harder and more efficiently to pay for the high quality society they want to enjoy, reduce somewhat the amount of red tape in which the social administration of the country is all tied up and so on. In a word, the country has to become more efficient.

A Europe Wide Trend

Really this is the position over much of Europe. An effect of being in the European Union is to squeeze out corruption and inefficiency and this has repercussions in all those countries - the great majority - that have been accustomed to overspending and then devaluing the currency in the ensuing crisis. This let-out is no longer available to countries within the eurozone. You either balance your books or become a complete economic backwater. This squeezing, however, happens over an extended period of time. The French have now reached the point where they reluctantly accept what needs to be done. Similar dramas are being played out in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and other countries. This has the effect of making the EU seem to be in a perpetual low-level crisis when in fact the whole set up is gradually becoming a more efficient economic machine. If they care to notice, it must come as a surprise to many English people that, since the Brexit referendum, British politics has become more and more chaotic, the pound is falling, prices are rising, the economy is struggling, the international standing of the country is declining and even the cherished "special relationship" with the USA has come under unprecedented strain, while in the Eurozone there is a new sense of forward momentum, a rising currency, a strengthening economy, more unity and a greater confidence on the world stage.

A New Broom

The situation in France is new. Many of those who will be new members of parliament were not even politicians two months ago. This is a remarkable experiment in hope and optimism. Undoubtedly there will be some mishaps as the realities of political life set in, but everybody is hoping that this new start does indeed mean a big step forward for France. At the same time, other political factions are regrouping. The left has split into left and ultra-left and the ultra-left appears to be on the way up while the old left is struggling to survive. On the other side there is also an old right and an ultra-right, both of which will survive, but neither of which has done terribly well this time. Where Britain and the USA have polarised to a point where decision making has become difficult and contentious, France has plumped for the middle ground and those who dissent are, for the moment, mostly keeping quiet. For British observers who want to get some sense of what has happened here, it is as though in the recent UK election the Liberal Democrats had come from nowhere to win 400 seats, or, for Americans, as though an independent had defeated both the Democrats and Republicans in the presidential election, set up a new party and won the mid-terms by a landslide. This is definitely something unusual, which must say something about the state of the world, not merely that of France.

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