Anti austerity socialists take a beating in French town hall elections…

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My French isn’t great, but using translate this snippet in Le Monde strikes me as getting close to the predicament parties of centre right and centre left face in tackling an unpredictable future after the first round of France’s municipal elections:

Malheureusement, je ne vois aucune personne politique capable ni d’expliquer la situation aux Français ni de conduire le bateau entre les écueils, mais je suis convaincu qu’une telle personne ne viendra ni du FN ni d’aucun parti extrême.

Like the upcoming local elections these have no direct baring on the complexion or day to day working of parliament or the executive. But they are an indication of just how hard it is to stay in government these days and get re-elected:

Provisional results from Sunday’s voting showed the protectionist, anti-EU Front National party of Marine Le Pen set to take control of 11 towns across the country, easily surpassing a past record in the 1990s when it ruled in four towns.

At least 140 more towns swung from the left to mainstream opposition conservatives as voters punished Hollande for his failure to turn around the eurozone’s second-largest economy and above all to tackle an unemployment rate stuck at more than 10%.

For all that seemingly ill-placed confidence that the huge vote Hollande came in on was a decisive blow against austerity less than two years ago, his party has been caned less than two years later… Which brings to mind those unforgettable words of Jean-Claude Trichet:

“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.

  • zep

    For those non-Francophones:

    “Unfortunately I don’t see a single policitican capable of explaining the situation to the French public, nor of keeping the ship off the rocks, but I am certain that such a person will not be found among the ranks of the Front National nor any other extremist party.”

  • SDLP supporter

    It’s interesting that Sinn Fein (in the Republic), UKIP and the Front Nationale are all surging in the polls. All these parties have a hell of a lot in common although, I suppose to be fair, Sinn Fein has not (yet?) played the anti-immigrant card that the other two parties have. Certainly UKIP and Sinn Fein have shared joint anti-Lisbon Treaty platforms.

    What Trichet says is largely true, though no one ever elected him and he is definitely part of the problem rather than the solution,

  • aquifer

    Socialists get confused when the job of being working class has been outsourced to China or programmed into a robot, leaving many with middle class expectations and no job.

    Immigrants are easier to spot than hedge fund managers, so guess who gets the blame.

  • Morpheus

    “Socialists get confused when the job of being working class has been outsourced to China or programmed into a robot, leaving many with middle class expectations and no job.”

    What a cracking comment, fair play

  • Charles_Gould

    I don’t think socialists get confused by outsourcing: that is why socialism has always been an international rather than national movement.

  • Charles_Gould

    Recommended reading for those unconcerned about the distribution of income (related to this thread in a deep way):

    “Capital in the 21st Century” Thomas Pickety.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Immigrants are easier to spot than hedge fund managers,’

    Yep and there’s more of them by a factor of double digit millions in the USA -single digit millions in the UK ,Germany , and France and in 6 digit hundreds of thousands in Ireland .

    “Socialists get confused ‘

    Indeed but the neo con nut jobs pretend they (immigrants ) don’t exist or should’nt exist . I red that for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA the Feds have 1,200 beds /hostel prisons available for those they catch and hope to deport . Assuming a 50% occupancy and lengthy legal procedures that should get the job done (all repatriated ) in I’d guess about 5 centuries assuming of course that the illegal immigrants don’t reproduce themselves while awaiting their deportation ?

    Its a mess . Or is it ?

  • Reader

    Charles_Gould: I don’t think socialists get confused by outsourcing: that is why socialism has always been an international rather than national movement.
    I’m not sure what your point is here. Is it that an international movement doesn’t care where a job is, so long as it exists? Or that an international movement will cooperate (yeah, right!) to ensure an even distribution of jobs and pay?
    I don’t think either situation applies here. Locally, socialists blame capitalists for outsourcing local workers’ jobs, while opposing protectionism. That certainly looks confused.

  • Greenflag

    Hollande is no doubt suffering a bit of a backlash a la Peter Robinson -although in this case Hollande has become a bit of a laughing stock re his amorous escapades on a motorbike . He’s now considering appointing his former partner and mother of his children to a ministry .It’s not known which Ministry perhaps the Ministry for Political Marriage Fidelity ?

  • Greenflag

    Indeed CG a good read -heres the precis

    In Piketty’s telling, it was only the unique circumstances between 1930 and 1975 that allowed capitalism’s natural drift toward inequality to be reversed. These circumstances included two world wars, a global depression and an outbreak of debt-fueled recession, all of which conspired to destroy vast amounts of wealth. Those years also ushered in government economic policies that consciously set out to redistribute income and economic power while spreading the latest technology to developing countries. Rapid growth in economic output in much of the world reduced the importance of inherited wealth and created a vast new global middle class with wealth of its own.

    and heres a linked review

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/capital-in-the-twenty-first-century-by-thomas-piketty/2014/03/28/ea75727a-a87a-11e3-8599-ce7295b6851c_story.html

  • Charles_Gould

    Reader

    “I’m not sure what your point is here. Is it that an international movement doesn’t care where a job is, so long as it exists? Or that an international movement will cooperate (yeah, right!) to ensure an even distribution of jobs and pay?
    I don’t think either situation applies here. Locally, socialists blame capitalists for outsourcing local workers’ jobs, while opposing protectionism. That certainly looks confused.”

    The inspirational phrase that Marx used was “workers of the world unite”. Not workers of NI. Or workers of Scotland. The issue of “a race to the bottom” is one that socialists do understand. To a socialist, the issue is the distribution of income between labour and capital. That is why Thomas Pickety in his book “Capital in the 21 Century” has proposed internationalist policy solutions. They are discussed in his FT article on Saturday’s FT:

    “Save capitalism from the capitalists by taxing wealth
    By Thomas Piketty Rising levels of inequality need to be addressed on a global scale, writes Thomas Piketty”

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/decdd76e-b50e-11e3-a746-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2xX5i0kSB

  • Charles_Gould

    Greenflag – I am currently reading it. The reviews have been very good.

  • Reader

    Charles_Gould: The inspirational phrase that Marx used was “workers of the world unite”. Not workers of NI. Or workers of Scotland. The issue of “a race to the bottom” is one that socialists do understand. To a socialist, the issue is the distribution of income between labour and capital.
    That’s a bit of a poser then, isn’t it? Anyone who understands the race to the bottom will realise that socialism is going to fail if attempted within national boundaries. Whereas it is also clear that socialists aren’t going to achieve a world without frontiers either.
    Meanwhile, what capitalism is offering is a bit messy. One after another, the countries of the world are getting on the development ladder, struggling through industrialisation, sweatshops, pollution, corruption and finally democracy, order and welfare; then losing their unskilled jobs to the next country climbing up the ladder behind them. It took hundreds of years for western Europe, but things are changing much faster now.
    International Socialism has a bit of a hard sell – is it offering to kick away the ladder or to get everyone to the top of the ladder immediately?

  • http://euromoveni.co.uk Beetebuerger

    You do not have to be Francophone to understand French :)

    Now Hollande has appointed a new Prime Minister who has more in common with the UMP than the PS, not that that’s a bad thing. Perhaps he is hoping to hoist Manuel Valls on the petard of the premiership as he battles to win his party’s support to run for a second quinquennat but at the same time, he needs Valls to take centre stage as by far the most popular PS politician and perhaps the most popular from any party in France right now. One thing is for sure: Valls is not the ditherer his Président is.

  • abucs

    I think great social breakthroughs are possible when like minded people in specific cultural communities work together for the betterment of all in the community.

    Because of its international outlook the socialists tend to be anti-community in the sense that it doesn’t like the specific links people have which are common to a particular group.

    Whether it be schooling, national unions, supra international unions (EU), religious groups, ethnic cultural practices, racial commonalities the socialists tend to prefer to dismiss, weaken, undermine and break these up in favour of an international focus where often community bonds and commitment are not existent.

    It is far from certain that trying to break the bonds of community that have been so successful in creating social advancement is creating a better world.

    The better course of action I believe is for socialists to stop attacking individual communities which are the basis for ‘real lived’ social contracts and instead find a way where communities can work with each other in respect with emphasis on the opportunity to make communities more fair and compassionate and self sacrificial.

    Many western workers have become relatively richer in certain Western communities and the in the international socialist mind thus no need to have their wealth redistributed to others around the globe. This also breaks the bonds of communal trust, self interest and responsibility to your neighbour that has been so strong in cultural communities to improve society.

    The emphasis shouldn’t be in attacking strong communities but understanding some cultural practices are better than others, and go get in the trenches of other cultural communities to improve those cultural practices.

    Socialists need to stop treating particular different cultures as something that needs to be attacked and in the REAL sense understand that cultures are important sources of social advancement and provide strong society.

    Socialists actually need to be BROAD MINDED enough to work with different cultures instead of BELIEVING that culture is backward and something that needs to attacked in favour of the IDEA that somehow an international culture will emerge out of nothing.

    In the end, the limited socialist view of what a human person is and their position in community creates cultural wastelands such as the of former communist countries who went backward, not forward.

    It is interesting as well that those countries that are mono-cultural or have stable and long standing communities working together in community year on year are leading educational achievements and economic growth.

    Britain for example has just engaged 100 teachers from Shanghai in the hope to improve the mathematical outcomes of its own students. I believe it will fail on the very point of cultural difference. Not just that cultures are different but the changed Western culture of children is now a problem that retards their educational performance.

    If you look at those countries who purposely persecuted individual culture in favour of the false idea of a ‘strong successful international socialist culture emerging’ such as Russia and China; they are now two countries where there is a greater concentration on building up internal non socialist culture(s) in an effort to ‘recapitalise’ strong communities that are needed for better outcomes.

    We should also learn from their previous mistakes.

    Culture counts. Destroy separate cultures in a false idea of broad-mindedness and you destroy the steps needed for progress.

  • abucs

    I should add that the recent decision of TCD to remove the Bible from its crest is a perfect example of attacking individual culture in favour of a false sense of broad-mindedness and IMAGINED universalism.

    Russia and China are now moving in exactly the opposite direction having learned ‘forward thought’ as TCD called their decision, actually takes community and society backward.