Some might say that the French election has taken a turn for the worse this past week, though the truth is this has little to do with the candidates. It is more a case of the French electorate taking a turn for the worse.
In my ten plus years in France never have I been so aware of the stupidity of your average French citizen. Alas, I knew this day would come. One of the factors driving me away from the United Kingdom was this same realisation – that your average British voter has about as much between his or her ears as a cockroach when it comes to politics.
Only now, having mastered the French language and made an effort to understand French law and politics, do I realise that the population of France are about as clued-up as child of six when it comes to understanding how a country functions.
Having integrated myself into French society I now have the unfortunate occasion to see acquaintances post their support for Le Pen on their Facebook time lines. I also get the occasional deluded ni-ni poster too thanks to Melenchon’s refusal to ask his supporters to help Macron gain the presidency.
The problem is that French legislation and the functioning of the government are so opaque to your average citoyenne that political arguments have been boiled down to childish binary logic.
The ‘debate’ at the moment is heavily weighted on the ‘reasons to not vote for Macron’ side – with no positives on the other. In other words LePen’s camp are not espousing the positive elements of their candidate (for obvious reasons) but putting all their energies into smearing Macron.
The arguments against a vote for Macron are few yet none hold enough water to warrant a vote for LePen:
- He’s a banker / he’s rich
- He didn’t create any jobs when he was in government
- He’s part of the establishment – he’s Hollande’s heir
The fact that LePen is under investigation for defrauding the European taxpayer out of 5 million Euros and that she, and her party, is openly racist does not seem to have entered the debate.
The reality is that a lot of the disenfranchised (young voters, unskilled agricultural or factory workers, the unemployed, the under-paid etc.) are using the same logic to force change as the masses did in the Brexit vote in the UK; it is the same reason why Melenchon gained so many votes in the first round. People want big change – but they don’t want to have to change themselves.
Change without needing to change is easy to sell if you blame others for the country’s problems, and that is exactly what LePen and Melenchon have been doing: blaming immigrants, the EU, the Euro, the IMF, Nato etc.. this appeals to French voters because it does not require them to look at themselves and ask if they are not part of the problem?
Macron is increasingly unpopular because he knows what the real problems are: a rigid labour market, the job-for-life mentality, a bloated civil service etc. and solving these problems will require major battles with the insect-brained electorate who will be mobilised against any attempt to change the status quo.
Thankfully undecided voters will have an opportunity to wake up to reality tomorrow night when the traditional televised debate between the candidates will take place. This tête-a-tete should solidify Macron’s election; LePen will show herself to be truly one of the people when it becomes clear she has about as much cerebral capacity as a cockroach.