Sunday, May 07, 2017

France wont reform, wont improve, for now

Regardless of the result of the French Presidential election the outcome will, at best, see little difference to the structural sclerosis that contains the French economy, nor will it see a reform in terms of support for basic freedoms and individual liberty that France also needs.

As appealing as anti-Islamism of Marine Le Pen is, the bottom-line is that she is not from a tradition of liberty, but one of collaborationist fascism.  The facade slipped when she went into denial over the actions of the Vichy regime, which not only appeased, but collaborated and worked hand in glove with the Nazis to terrorise France, deport and execute Jews.  The fight against Islamism is not won by handing power to one who channels fascists, even though she had made significant efforts to distance herself from it (including, to be fair, rejecting the explicit anti-semitism of her vile father).

Some conservatives and even some libertarians regard her as a hero, and are cheering her on.  I'm not and I cannot see how anyone, ANYONE, with a critical mind and appreciation of individual liberty can give her support.  Even if you accept that France needs to contain and confront Islamism (and it does), to then hand it over to a fascist, nationalist, protectionist movement is figuratively cutting off your nose etc, but is more counterproductive.

Nothing will play more into the hands of France's Islamists than Marine Le Pen making it difficult for  non-Islamist and moderate Muslims to go about their daily lives, for it will recruit thousands to the Islamist cause.  Similarly, whilst she would admirably likely defend the likes of Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons lampooning Mohammed, she is adamantly opposed to Charlie Hebdo depicting her the same way or depicting Christianity in an offensive manner. 

Notwithstanding that her economic policies would be as ruinous to France as similar policies have been to Venezuela.  She is, very much, a national socialist.  Having said that, it is likely that if she were elected, the UK would be better off, at least in respect of the Brexit negotiations, because she would be friendlier to the UK.

Macron on the other hand, is pablum.  He may deliver some modest tax cuts and a "sinking lid" civil service (not replacing those who retire or leave, in net terms), but will not address France's sclerotic attitude to free enterprise and new business.  France needs the level of reforms Fillon was advocating, as a bare minimum, but his own corruption ruined his campaign.   Macron wont seriously confront Islamism, he will embrace the EU and move too little too late.  Worse, he will seek to punish the UK for leaving the EU, and will continue the main stream dirigiste economics of glacial reform that France has experienced for years (in part because the EU pushed it along).

France's fundamental problem lies in its civil service and the closed system by which the only people who advise the French government, by and large, are those qualified by a school that teaches one philosophy of government.   Until a President is elected that takes that system on, that breaks out of the single ideological domination of French domestic policy, France will remain unable to confront the primary causes of unemployment, regional stagnation and relative decline compared to northern Europe.  

I expect Macron to win, and France to continue to muddle through, but unless he has a secret agenda of serious reform, he will make little difference.  Le Pen at best will provide a distraction and a shock, but she not only would stagnate France, she would chase away private enterprise, reduce individual freedom and make her supporters poorer.

Neither is worth voting for, but I think the majority of French voters, who dislike Macron, would rather not have a President who is an apologist for Vichy.  They would be right to make that choice, to vote against opportunist blood and soil nationalist socialism.

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