Only in France

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The French are in the process of electing a President.  The vagaries of French politics I usually find fairly bewildering, as one might expect from a nation that since 1789 has had a monarchy, three constitutional monarchies, two empires, a fascist state and five republics.  The French use a run off system by which the two top candidates, if no candidate gets above 50%, go up against each other.  The French finished the first round over the weekend.  The two candidates, drum roll, are:

 

Marine Le Pen of the National Front.  She has been compared to Joan of Arc.  Well perhaps, if one can imagine a pro-abort Joan of Arc who has been twice divorced and is shacked up with a significant other.  The National Front is sort of a Le Pen family business, started by her Daddy Jean-Marie LePen, probably a fascist, who she threw out of the party in 2015 when he made one of the thousands of controversial statements that litter his career.  She is widely assumed to be doomed in the run-off, and that is probably the case, although she does recognize that France is in a war with Jihadists, something that most other sectors of French political opinion do their best to ignore.

Emmanuel Macron is a renegade moderate socialist, if there is such an animal.  The French establishment has rallied around him to save them from dragon lady Le Pen who might, if elected, actually change the way France has done business since the days of the Sun King, whatever the French government of the day calls itself: heavily centralized rule from Paris, with the rest of France being, at best, a suburb of Paris.  He is 39 and his spouse is 64.  They met when he was 15 and she was his teacher at a private Jesuit school, married with three kids.  Private meetings between them ensued where they no doubt had interesting conversations in the Jesuit manner regarding marital fidelity.  They confessed their undying love for each other when he was 16.  When he turned 18 she dumped her husband, although in Gallic fashion they did not get married until 2007 after she finally divorced husband the first.  During the campaign Macron was accused of having a homosexual relationship with the head of Radio France.  He has denied this, and that denial may be correct, because as far as I can ascertain the head of Radio France did not teach at the Jesuit school while he was a student.

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16 Comments

  1. I think they were only formally married about 10 years ago. One of his step children is two years his senior. The affair supposedly began in 1994 and his parents sent him out of town to school to keep the two of them separate. Very very peculiar.

    There were one or two candidates more appealing than Marine Le Pen, but one was dogged by corruption scandals and another just never caught on, finishing with 5% of the ballots.

    The use of the term ‘5th Republic’ is a convention, the ordinal made use of when a new constitution is implemented. The institutional discontinuities in French politics have been induced by military invasion. The country has not suffered discontinuities from internal disorders since 1860, and there has been only 1 republic since 1870.

  2. Jean-Marie Le Pen entered the National Assembly in 1956 as one of the 56 deputies of Pierre Poujade’s Union de défense des commerçants et artisans [Union for the Defense of Tradesmen and Artisans], a sort of French version of the Tea Party movement – Anti-tax, anti-parliamentary, anti-intellectual and anti-Semitic (much of this directed at the Jewish Prime Minister, Pierre Mendès-France). As a teenager, Poujade had joined the Parti Populaire Français of Jean Doriot, the Communist turned fascist and, from 1940-1942 he supported the Revolution nationale of Philippe Petain until the German occupation of the free zone, when he joined the Free French Forces in North Africa.

    Poujade mellowed in later life and, in 1984, President Mitterrand appointed him to the Conseil économique et social where he was a keen supporter of biofuels.

  3. a sort of French version of the Tea Party movement – Anti-tax, anti-parliamentary, anti-intellectual and anti-Semitic (much of this directed at the Jewish Prime Minister, Pierre Mendès-France).

    In discussions of this sort, you’ve grossly mischaracterized first Nigel Farage and now the Tea Party. You really haven’t any aptitude for this sort of thing. At all.

  4. Macron (Maybe Chas. Manson should run) reminds of the democrat dork the leftish pond scum are attempting to impose on GA – 6 in the June special, run-off election.

    Britain had its Brexit. America has its President Donald J. Trump. And, France . . . This time maybe the countryside will outvote the Paris elites that are out if touch with the desires and needs of the French people.

  5. “The use of the term ‘5th Republic’ is a convention, the ordinal made use of when a new constitution is implemented.”

    The First Republic was killed by Napoleon. The Second Republic was ended by the plebiscite which created the Second Empire. The Third Republic succeeded the Second Empire and was ended by the Nazis. The short lived post war Fourth Republic died in 1958 as a result of a disguised military coup prettied up after the fact to place DeGaulle in power. French constitutional arrangements have all the long term stability of jello. History shall see if the Fifth Republic exceeds in longevity the Third Republic.

  6. Even if Le Pen is “Trumpish”, I just don’t see that France is in quite the same spot as the US. The other issue is that Macron is not a Hildebeast – at least, he does not come across as flat out unlikable as she. I also get the impression that the first round (which seems sort of like a primary) leans more left, opposite of what we had. That is, Clinton had one lousy candidate to beat out; trump had 15 or 16, all on the right of center for the most part. The French “primary” appears to have had more left of center candidates (and likely voters), therefore it is likely they would gravitate more toward Macron than Le Pen. Still, stranger things have happened.

  7. The short lived post war Fourth Republic died in 1958 as a result of a disguised military coup prettied up after the fact to place DeGaulle in power.

    That’s a common meme, but it’s false. Ministerial crises were routine in France in the first dozen years after the war. De Gaulle’s appointment as prime minister in June 1958 was perfectly above-board and the peculiar features of his ministry were agreed on by the stakeholders in question. There was a military mutiny in Algeria and Corsica, where all of 3% of the French population lived.

    French constitutional arrangements have all the long term stability of jello. History shall see if the Fifth Republic exceeds in longevity the Third Republic.

    Neither the fall of the 2d Empire or the 3d Republic were attributable to intramural disorders. Unless you’re expecting France to be overrun by the Germans again in the next dozen years, that’s not much of a threat as we speak. The organic laws assembled in 1875, the constitutional drafts in 1945 and 1946, and the current constitution are all legal scaffolding for a parliamentary republic. There are some incremental differences and the seminal conditions which prevailed when each were first in operation differed. However, these constitutions are species of one genus. The notable innovation of the current constitution was the electoral system (which has promoted the consolidation of political factions) and some changes in the mechanics of parliamentary responsibility. Both have allowed longer ministries (2.5 years v. 0.5 years under the previous constitution). There have been some changes in legislative process as well. France’s problems tend to derive from its political culture, not its constitution per se.

  8. “That’s a common meme, but it’s false.”

    I think that would come as a vast surprise to Jacques Soustelle. Without the coup, including the occupation of Corsica by the conspirators, and the threat of the Army seizing Paris, DeGaulle would never have been given the powers to reshape France in his own image.

    “Neither the fall of the 2d Empire or the 3d Republic were attributable to intramural disorders.”

    True unless one considers that Napoleon III fell into Bismarck’s trap and declared war on Prussia, and that the Third Republic was a model of instability all through the twenties and thirties, having 32 prime ministers (presidents of the council of ministers) if one does not count Petain at the end. Weakness at the top of any government will invite foreign aggression sooner or later.

  9. I think that would come as a vast surprise to Jacques Soustelle. Without the coup, including the occupation of Corsica by the conspirators, and the threat of the Army seizing Paris, DeGaulle would never have been given the powers to reshape France in his own image.

    There’s a difference between ‘anxiety’ and ‘threats’. French politicians had had to put together about two-dozen ministries in the previous dozen years, with none lasting longer than 17 months. They’d failed badly at one enterprise (Indo-China) and were failing at another (Algeria). It’s not surprising most of the politicians and public were at the end of their tether. That’s rather different than Gen. Massu or whomever rolling the tanks into Paris (something fairly routine in Latin America at the time but done only twice in Europe between 1945 and 1989).

  10. Oh, I think the Fourth Republic was a disaster Art and the Fifth Republic was an improvement. However, it is hard to overestimate just how suspicious of DeGaulle the political class in France was. There was a reason that after he went off in a huff in 1946 he spent the next twelve years on the outside looking in. I do not think he would have come to power without the politicians knowing that the Army was prepared to act if they did not.

  11. Two of the countries (or people) I am always drawn to are Russia and France- probably best to say – my “idea” of Russia and France.
    and I always remember that the people held on to the Faith in France when Germany England Switzerland … all went to protestantism-
    but, heck, now even the pope seems to have gone to protestantism.
    Immigration isn’t new to France- all during their long 19th century they had lots of immigrants from their eastern Europe, middle east and Africa..

    England and Germany and Sweden established national churches in a time of growing nationalism- (even known by a french word – chauvinism–) but french kings pretty much wanted to stay Catholic.
    The Sorbonne. the Crusades. Such a battlefield in the two world wars. I am disappointed they haven’t found some better candidates for leadership. Just like us in the USA their two candidates are pretty much representative of the modern milieu.

  12. i should not have said national church in Germany because the various principality went their own way– cujus regio, ejus religio– the political leader chose the religion

  13. Anzlyne wrote, “Immigration isn’t new to France…”

    Indeed not. A survey in 1955 showed that one in four French people had one grandparent born outside Metropolitan France.

    One recalls how Charles Maurras used to rail against the « métèques »

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