If you are to believe the enthused youth electorate, the party lead by Jean-Luc Melenchon, know today as France Insoumise – or previously as the Front de Gauche (The Left-wing National Front) – are going to be the main opposition in the National Assembly come the elections in June. This belief despite their main man only gaining enough support to come forth in the Presidential elections and currently having only 10 representatives in the assembly.
It seems that they are banking on a surge of support from disenfranchised voters following the collapse of France’s two traditional political forces – The Socialist Party and The Republicans – and a belief that Macron only won by default (and not through policy).
However, such gung-ho optimism should be pared back given a quick reading of their manifesto – which will make worrying reading for anyone with more than two pennies to rub together. Here’s what they are currently posting as their “10 emblematic proposals” (I have translated from their very enigmatic French):
- A referendum to define the 6th Republic
- A new right to remove elected officials
- Nationalisation/Protection of air, water, food, life, health, energy and money
- Repeal new labour laws
- Force high street banks to sell-off investment parts; create a People’s Bank
- Raise minimum wage to 1300€ net per month and give pay rises to civil servants
- Go Green – make our overall environmental impact a positive one
- End reliance on nuclear power – increase use of renewables
- Tear up CETA agreement with Canada and refuse any trade deal with the USA
- Plan A: Completely rewrite the EU treaties and hold an in-out referendum or, Plan B: Stop paying EU membership, reintroduce the Franc alongside the Euro and drop out of Schengen.
Points 1 and 2 will have the caveat that no current politician will be allowed to stand for election in the new Republic. So this appears to be no more than an exercise in Melenchon getting rid of his rivals as any new constitution is likely to look a lot like the old one.
Points 3 and 4 are a step towards communism by ensuring that businesses will be unable to fire anyone, for whatever reason, as well as face an increase in their contributions to the state. In other words it will spell the death of the labour market – especially when you consider point 6. The first part of point 5 was required by the EU following the banking crisis.
Points 7 and 8 are admirable – and reflect the mood of all right-minded liberal nations.
Populist point 9 is dumb as the CETA agreement has already been ratified by France and so cannot be torn up unless France drop out of the EU. No-one is currently negotiating with the USA – they have Trump, remember?
Point 10 – clearly nothing has been learnt from the Brexit catastrophe. This is Melenchon’s shamelessly populist pitch by all but saying dropping out of the EU is the only way forward. Blaming foreigners always wins votes – just ask Marine LePen or Nigel Farage.
The direct translation of insoumise is said to be “unbowed” – that is: defiant. But what exactly do Melenchon et al think France needs to defy? The list of policies above would suggest they want to defy trade, business, banks, politicians, people with jobs in the private sector and foreigners (Europeans, Americans, Canadians).
In a nutshell France Insoumise want to defy everything – even logic.
President Macron’s task between now and June 18 is to convince people that the only thing the population need to defy are the destructive and devise populist movements within France itself.
I wish him the very best of luck.