So ungrateful. So irresponsible. So unfair. As the initial shock of the first round of the French Presidential elections on April 21 gave way to self-righteous indignation on the part of Socialist Party officials and left-liberal pundits, it was hard to avoid the obvious Brechtian conclusion: the electorate should be dissolved forthwith and a more satisfactory one appointed. After all that had been done for them—35-hour week, mild economic growth, dip in unemployment—and with such a selfless, upright candidate as Lionel Jospin, how could the couches populaires be so infantile, so disloyal? Their scandalous display of indifference or hostility to the Centre Left—expressed in abstentions, or Far Left or Right votes—had left France at the mercy of Fascism. Overnight, the same establishment called with one voice for the French people to support Jacques Chirac, a reeking sack of political corruption who should have been behind bars long ago, as the champion of their liberties—while assuring its electors that this would be the best way to bar a victory of the Right in the subsequent legislative elections. The result was predictable. Chirac, handed a plebiscite, repaid the ‘plural Left’ with a massacre at the polls for the National Assembly. France now has the largest conservative majority for decades.
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- Perry Anderson: The Centre Can Hold How did Emmanuel Macron become President of France virtually overnight? What are the likely consequences of his rule? The long epoch of collusive alternation between Centre-Left and Centre-Right, and its abrupt ending; the realities of Le Pen’s Front National, and the riposte of Mélenchon’s La France insoumise. Has neo-liberalism finally arrived in force in Paris, and if so what are the implications for Europe?