A DUMMY’S GUIDE TO FRENCH POLITICS
November 28, 2011 9 Comments
Over 200 years ago Napoleon Bonaparte said “In politics stupidity is not a handicap”.
To an outsider French politics can be incredibly confusing … just as it is to French people.
The political right in France is not in any way recognisable as belonging to the right side of politics that one would find in any other democratic country, being more accurately only just marginally to the right of the left. The current flag carriers for the marginally right of the left is the UMP (Union pour un Movement Populaire), which is currently very “unpopulaire”, hovering at about 30% approval, and which now could more accurately be an acronym for Unreelectable Maddening President.
Nicolas Sarkozy moved from leader of the UMP to France’s 23rd President in May 2007 on a platform based on the need to revitalise the French economy and need for change, and immediately brought to bear the entire power of the office of the French Presidency to changing his marital status, getting divorced from Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz in October 2007 and marrying Carla Bruni in February 2008. On taking office he also immediately changed his own annual salary from € 101,000 to € 242,000.
These 2 major changes so tired him that he has rested ever since, though he did find a small burst of energy which enabled him to impregnate his new and attractive wife, who has now given birth to a Sarkozy heiress.
The far left French socialist party (Parti Socialist) has had some leadership setbacks since its first successful run at the Presidency in 1981. Its leader is Segolene Royale … no, it’s Francois Hollande … no, it’s Martine Aubrey … no, it’s Harlem Desir … no it’s Francois Hollande again. The only obvious person who is definitely not the leader of the PS is Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the ex-head of the IMF. He committed the ultimate sin in French politics, which is not the having of affairs, nor the having of mistresses, nor even of being a sexual predator, but is the unforgiveable sin of having it all make headlines in the newspapers thus embarrassing the French populace by being caught by foreigners doing all these things. The reality is that many French people actually admire and envy him his sexual energy, but will not tolerate his lack of discretion.
The far right is represented by the Front National (National Front) founded by Jean Marie le Pen (see “Vive l’European Parliament” posted September 20, 2010), and now led by his daughter Marine le Pen. The FN is a classic right wing party allied to the British BNP, and who wish to stop all immigration, impose stronger law and order initiatives by bringing back the guillotine, drop out of the EU and go back to the franc, build a fence along France’s borders with all other countries, ban all foreign films, make the use of any languages other than French a punishable offence, expel all foreign residents back to their home countries giving their renovated houses back to French nationals, and change McDonalds from serving hamburgers into duck-in-a-crepe takeaways thereby rejuvenating the French agricultural sector. Their popularity is growing daily as France continues, together with Germany, to support Greek lifestyles thus forcing the French to move their retirement age to a staggering 62, leaving an average of only 20 years of being supported by the State in their old age, but whilst retaining the 35 hour work week.
The far far left is mainly represented by the Parti Communiste (PCF) which is still strongly Stalinist as no one has actually told them that Russia has moved away from traditional communism since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990. PCF support has fallen from a high of 20% to about 5% currently as most people in France watch television and know that both Russia and China have been moving away from actual communism towards a more open market form of -ism, whereas true French communists eschew foreign capitalist consumerism and thus are not able to watch television but just keep re-reading old Karl Marx pamphlets for their news updates.
There are also a few aging and declining far far far left parties such as Lutte Ouvriere (Workers’ Struggle) and LCR (Revolutionary Communist League), who are giving way to Parti de Gauche (Party of the Left) who actually have 2 seats in the Parliament and the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (New Anti-capitalist Party) who, together with Cuba, are the last who still believe in the pure ideals of collective farms and state ownership of all assets, including berets.
There are some small centrist parties such as the Nouveau Centre which is allied with the right of left UMP, so no-one is quite sure about what it sits in the centre of, as it is hard to position any party apart from those on the farthest extremes. The others seem to be able to float around at will, much akin to the streetwalkers in Bangkok these days. Francois Bayrou (a former presidential candidate) has also formed the Mouvement Democratique, to sit somewhere between the Left and Right and thus spends all of his time trying to work out where they actually are, and what they actually believe would be best for themselves, and maybe even occasionally for the rest of France, so he can actually define where he should sit politically.
Plato summed it all up over 2000 years ago when he said
“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are not.”