Monday 23 April 2012

French politics exciting and vibrant

There have been no posts on keynesianliberal for the past week as I have been walking in the Peak District with, among others, some French friends. They all companied of feeling over-exposed to reportage of the presidential election campaign so clearly they were not political anoraks. Equally none expressed any support for President Sarkozy or Marie le Pen, so they were not a representative sample. They all, however, expressed firm intentions to vote. We now know that the turnout was just over 80%, which compares very healthily with the 65.1% achieved in Britain in 2010, although this was an improvement on 2001, when our turnout dipped below 60%. The surprise to me is the strong performance of le Pen, who at 18.1% swamped the rising star of the far left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who obtained only 12%. The centrist candidate Bayrou, who achieved 18% in 2007, slipped to 9%. I find it exciting that, although France already takes a higher proportion of GDP in taxes than does the UK, and in my view gets very good value for money, 40% of the French (the combined votes of Hollande and Bayrou) were prepared to vote for even higher taxes - Hollande proposing a marginal income tax rate of 75% and doughty Mélenchon 100%. How lily-livered and in hock to the rich are our British politicians by comparison. It is a cliché of French politics that in the first round you vote with your heart and in the second with the head. So the next couple of weeks will be dominated by how the votes of the eliminated candidates will transfer. Assuming that all Mélenchon's 18% transfer to Hollande, as he requests, and Hollande receives half of Bayrou's 9%, then that puts the socialist candidate on a comfortable 55%, compared with 50% Sarkozy will receive if all Le Pen's votes transfer to him and he receives the other half of Bayrou's vote. However, politics does not obey logical rules, (as we found to our cost in the AV referendum),so the remaining candidates' fights to retain their core votes, attract transfers and dissuade abstentions will produce an exciting fortnight. PS While I have been away on holiday BLOGSPOT seems to have altered the procedures for publishing posts, and, try as I might I cannot get the final version to produce paragraphs. Nor can I find the statistics. Help and advice on either of these problems from more experienced bloggers will be appreciated. ideally I'd like to go ack to what it was before as this "update" appears to have no advantages.


  1. D'accord, but the Le Pen vote is surely worrying?
    Almost one in five for a virtual Fascist!
    The French right were always viciously anti-semitic - see the Dreyfus affair. (Well treated in Proust of course). I am surprised that under Vichy they did not send more to the camps. Toutes mes amities, Stuart.

  2. Quit right. I haven't the details to hand but the business of the Velodrome was shameful..

    From all I'd read and heard I was expecting Mélenchon to run neck and neck with Le Pen and had my fingers crossed that he'd even beat her, so his 12% to her 18% is a big disappointment.

    Both of course are recipients of the "none of the above" or "plague on both your houses" tendency vote which is very versatile, as we Liberals, who have benefited greatly from it in the past, now know to our cost. However, I suspect that the "hard" NF vote is nearer 10% than 18%.

    However, the French do themselves no favours with their policy of assimilation and obsession with laïcité. With all its problems, I think the UK's more relaxed tolerance of multi-cultural ism has greater staying-power.