Time for choices

Note kindly translated by Anne-Marie de Grazia

The run-off French regional elections, which took place on Sunday, December 13, confirmed a number of lessons which had already emerged from the results of the first round.

First of all, this election marks a victory for the “Republicans.” It is a short victory. However, its significance lies less in the number of regions won (7 out of 13) than in the demographic weight of these regions, which represent almost two-thirds of the French population. Still, it is a victory by default more than through conviction. In two regions, and they are not the least, North-Picardy and the large PACA (Provence-Alps-Côte-d’Azur) region, the « Republicans » are winning only because the “Socialists” withdrew their lists. It suffices to watch the mien of the winner, Xavier Bertrand, and to listen to his speech to measure the encompassing limits of this victory. The lists of the party heir to the UMP, and of the Centre parties, are very far from having inflicted upon the “socialists” the knock-out they had been slavering for. This result is going to revive the internecine wars of ambition between the pretenders to the succession of Nicolas Sarkozy, beginning with himself, and including Alain Juppé, François Fillon and Bruno Lemaire. These wars will be the more merciless that they will be played out within the same program.

This election heralds also a defeat for the « socialists, » to which is added an ideological disaster. The defeat is obvious. Not only are le “socialist” lists and those of their allies – and sometimes of their reservists – taking only 5 regions, representing less than one third of the French population, but the reduction in the number of regional councillors will weigh heavily in the finances of a party which will be forced to reduce sails. But, ideologically, it is indeed with a disaster that the “S”P is being confronted today. Its only argument has been “to defeat the Front National.” For the rest, it is just picking up a good share of the opposition’s themes, and even of those of that same Front National, against which it is calling in the same time to tightly close ranks. Incoherence is reaching the extreme when one of its candidates, Claude Bartolone, indulges openly in communitarianism in a meeting, mentioning « the white race » when referring to his adversary. We’ll take note of the fact that this did not seem to bother Mrs Cosse of the ecologist EELV nor M. Pierre Laurent, of the French Communist Party, who were sitting on the same dais. The « S » P no longer has an economic project, except for austerity, the opening up to reinforced globalization through the transatlantic TTIP Treaty, and the continuation of deindustrialization. Nor does it have any project left in other domains, what with the destruction of the Republican school system which it is pursuing against all reason, or putting an end to public services in a logic directly imparted from Brussels. It’s a laugh, to say the least, to see this party bringing up for vote a law which will replace railroad transportation with buses, and in the same time bask itself in the glory of the results of the COP-21. To use buses to reduce the carbon footprint, someone had to think of that one…

These elections mark a defeat in appearance for the Front National which, though it arrived first in 6 regions, didn’t win any. Yet this judgement of failure needs to be tempered. It is hiding true successes. In number of votes, the Front National progressed significantly between the first round and the run-off. It will top the number of votes of the presidential election of 2012, despite a higher rate of abstentions. Especially, it will increase very markedly the number of its regional councillors (to over 350) and profit both from the financial manna coming with it, and from the local rootedness deriving from it. It’s not a negligible fact, and it is surprising that many commentators do not mention it. However, and I have said so already, this run-off also confirms what I signalled at the first round: the Front National does not succeed in rallying around itself. It won the first round, but with a very feeble stock of votes in reserve. This comes from the ambiguity which it is cultivating in its political line. Between the discourses of the ones and of the others, those held in the North in Hénin-Beaumont and in Forbach, and those held in Provence at Carpentras, there is more than mere differences. The so-called “identitarian” current, which was particularly prominent in the PACA region, if it is able at first to pump up numbers and bring localized successes, will turn out to be in the long run an insuperable obstacle to any rallying logic. This discourse, which is quite obviously “un-republican” as it does not incorporate the principles of the Republic such as secularism and equality, condemns the Front National to future new defeats as soon as it will need to rally around itself. Between being a local force and being a national force, it will have to make a choice. For the Front National too, time has come for self-examination and strategic decisions.


Jacques Sapir

Ses travaux de chercheur se sont orientés dans trois dimensions, l’étude de l’économie russe et de la transition, l’analyse des crises financières et des recherches théoriques sur les institutions économiques et les interactions entre les comportements individuels. Il a poursuivi ses recherches à partir de 2000 sur les interactions entre les régimes de change, la structuration des systèmes financiers et les instabilités macroéconomiques. Depuis 2007 il s'est impliqué dans l’analyse de la crise financière actuelle, et en particulier dans la crise de la zone Euro.

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