Uh, oh: French Left can’t bring itself to Vote for Macron

TeleSur | – –

TeleSUR spoke with two French voters to discuss Sunday’s second-round presidential election in France and lesser evil voting.

French voters are confronted with a difficult choice on Sunday’s runoff presidential election: Emmanuel Macron, a neoliberal former investment banker who served as an economy minister in the current — and historically unpopular — government, and the leader of the far-right, xenophobic, anti-EU National Front Marine Le Pen.

Facing the National Front leader was supposed to make Macron’s victory easier, but the candidate’s arrogance and tactical mistakes have dangerously boosted voters’ intentions to abstain. On Tuesday, an internal poll of supporters of defeated far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon showed that just over 65 percent will either spoil their ballots or stay at home. Communist-backed Melenchon, who leads the "France Insoumise," or Unbowed France movement, won more than 7 million votes as he finished fourth in the election’s first round on April 23.

While the French mainstream media and political elites have started a campaign shaming leftists for allegedly paving the way to the election of Le Pen, teleSUR contacted two of them in a bid to better understand the political landscape.

Diane Scott, editor-in-chief of Incise magazine, voted for the Anti-Capitalist Party’s candidate Philippe Poutou in the first round, although she claims to be “happy” with Melenchon’s good score. She said she refuses to choose between the two candidates and has decided to abstain on Sunday. She recently explained her decision in an article published by Mediapart.

Olivier Tonneau, lecturer in modern languages at Homerton College, is a member of Melenchon’s "Parti de Gauche," or Left Party, and the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. After destroying the arguments shaming abstention in articles for Mediapart and The Guardian, he confessed that he will eventually vote for Macron on Sunday, because he fears that Macron’s mistakes will end up electing Le Pen.

“The priority is to fight the far-right vote on the long term, and understand people who would rather abstain,” he told teleSUR.

1. Macron is not representing the people, he was imposed by finance capital

With their discourse, Macron’s supporters are turning “democracy into what they imagined it should have never stopped being: a useful illusion,” said Scott, comparing the current presidential campaign with the 2005 campaign in favor of the neoliberal European Constitutional Treaty. When voters rejected it in a popular referendum, the mainstream media criticized their decision with classist disdain, before the political elites approved the treaty in Congress despite the result, in a total denial of democracy. Now, said Scott, the “didactic disdain turned into hateful shaming.”

Meanwhile, added Tonneau, the mainstream media tried hard to discredit Melenchon as soon as he surged in the polls as a challenger. For instance, Melenchon’s proposal to solve Guiana’s difficulties (a former French colony located in South America) with economic cooperation and solidarity with the members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples, or ALBA, was translated in the French media as: “if Melenchon is elected, France will join a military alliance, ALBA, including Iran and Syria.”

2. Macron participated in a government responsible for human rights abuses and undermining democracy.

“Personally, since the state of emergency and the labor reform, I vowed not to vote for the Socialist Party whatever happens,” said Scott. “Shall we accept the dictatorship and the restoration of slavery in the name of the fight against the National Front?”

She also recalled the killing of an environmental activist by the military police and the numerous cases of Black or Arab citizens killed or raped by police officers while the Socialist Party government of Francois Hollande was in power.

Hollande also repeatedly resorted to using executive orders and a constitutional article in order to bypass a parliamentary vote to ram through unpopular laws, while the state of emergency — prolonged several times— justified violent police raids in peaceful Muslim homes, and even the house arrest of dozens of environmental activists across the country.

“I don’t underestimate the threat (of a National Front government)," said Scott, but she added that the Hollande government has crossed the line multiples times in ways that undermined democracy and Macron represents a continuation of this.

Tonneau, like Scott, pointed out that Macron has already announced he will not hesitate to resort to executive orders if elected. Macron also insisted that he wanted voters to support him only if they supported his program — a dangerous strategy that alienated potential leftist voters ahead of the May 7 vote.

3. Fighting fascism is part of the establishment’s strategy to remain in power

Melenchon himself was victim of this hateful shaming after he refused to tell his supporters to vote for Macron against Le Pen, like he did in 2002 when he encouraged them to vote for the incumbent President Jacques Chirac in order to block Jean-Marie Le Pen’s election.

But 15 years later, noted Scott, the scenario is quite different: while the 2002 results shocked everyone, this time the traditional parties and mainstream media prepared and expected a secured victory against the far right.

This argument was shockingly evidenced by Macron’s triumphant celebration of the first round’s results in a fancy restaurant of Paris, yet with less than a quarter of support, already taking for granted the anti-Le Pen vote in his favor for the second round.

The strategic “anti-Le Pen vote” is meaningless, argues Scott, because Le Pen is part of the strategy of the mainstream parties to keep power and carry out their neoliberal agenda. Macron, a former investment banker at Rothschild, may not be officially part of such parties, but he inspired most of the economic policies of the socialist government.

“The finance world does not even make the effort to produce politicians but seeks them out straight at the source,” said Scott.

As for Tonneau, what causes the surge of the far right across the world is not the abstention of leftist voters, but the “dictatorship of the finance world,” which Macron represents. Moreover, if Melenchon had ordered support for Macron, he would have likely lost a lot of support among the Unbowed militants, as they refuse to “bow” to the system.

“We are not your sweeper-car, picking up the trash behind you as you are destroying society little by little,” said Tonneau.

4. Why not shame right-wing voters who will vote for Le Pen?

Last but not least, Macron makes no effort to woo potential left-wing votes. He affirmed that he will not change his program, nor negotiate with other candidates in a bid to appeal to the three-quarters of French people who did not vote for him on April 23.

One must ask themselves why this vote shaming campaign has only be directed at the leftist voters, and not to supporters of conservative Francois Fillon (20 percent in the first round) who will either abstain (26 percent of them, according to an Ifop survey released Tuesday) or vote for Le Pen (30 percent). Meanwhile, the same voices do not seem to have any interest in convincing Le Pen’s core supporters to change their minds.

Melenchon’s political movement, however, managed to convince abstentionists and National Front voters more than any other party, reflected by an astonishing 9-point surge in the polls in less than a month before the first round, recalled Tonneau. Voters abandoned by the Socialist Party — like the working class, the youth and the generations of French immigrants living in the marginalized suburbs — voted for Melenchon instead of an expected blank vote or a Le Pen vote, according to various studies.

Via TeleSur


Related video added by Juan Cole:

TRT World: “French Presidential Election: Fierce final debate between Le Pen and Macron”

9 Responses

  1. In the USA, a lot of innocent people are being deported who would not have been had Clinton been elected. American families shattered, communities terrorized. These are the people some of us voted for when we voted for the neoliberal corporatist. But those who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Her, still manage to pass themselves off as champions of the vulnerable. All they have to offer are slogans about how capitalism and neoliberalism are bad, and socialism is the solution.

  2. Being pure in one’s ideology, while a major European nation succumbs to a fairly pure (stupid racist) reactionary movement has got to be comparable to the German Communists who allowed Hitler to come to power in 1933 because they hated the the more conventional Social Democrats.

  3. Don’t any voters on earth understand BASIC MATHEMATICS?

    Election math is a very, very simple BINARY choice . . .

    – A vote for the “least worse” choice is a vote for a better future.

    – A vote for the “worst worst” choice is a vote for a much worse future.

    – A non-vote is a vote for a much worse future.

    – A vote for any choice but the two “leaders” is the same as a non-vote for a much worse future.

    Elections are ALWAYS BINARY even when there are more than two choices, so a vote for the “least worse” choice is ALWAYS the best action. A vote for the worst choice or a vote for a minority choice or a non-vote is ALWAYS the worst action.

    Note that trump won ONLY 26% of registered voters. That is, 74% of voters dislike or hate trump but he still gets to screw up America to the best of his ability.

    Why is it so hard for humans to understand this basic math?

    When so much is on the line, vote like your life depends on it and stop the emotional BS.

    CGP Grey has a very nice explanation that anyone should be able to understand . . .

    link to youtube.com

    It even has very nice French subtitles.

    • Only a small percentage of people -even educated ones, get math. Your argument is heavily game-theoretic, people who can be persuaded by such logic are even rarer. I’m afraid people will vote their emotions, and lesser-evil doesn’t excite the right ones.

      • You are correct that MOST people make political choices based ONLY on emotion not rational thought.

        And emotions are easily manipulated because most humans have very low self confidence and there is ALWAYS another human that is perceived to have an easier life for people to hate.

  4. Abstaining in a situation like that in France is immoral.

    In all situations, politics or others, where a person has the opportunity to influence the outcome, he or she MUST participate by choosing the lesser evil or the greater good.

    Everyone from the centre to the far left who sits at home and does not vote for Macron will, as the adage says, be cutting off their nose to spite their face and will bear a part of the responsibility if Le Pen wins and pushes France into the abyss.

    As Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” He is echoed by John Stuart Mill, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

    To abstain from voting in such a circumstance is what the French call a “capitulation de conscience”.

  5. Just as was the case with Trump/Clinton, there are potentially influential elements that have little to do with traditional politics. Le Pen is under investigation for misuse of funds intended for paying administrative costs, similar to Fillon except that he supposedly misapplied French government funds which cuts deep, whereas in her case they are EU funds link to mediapart.fr , and 61% of the French view Brussels unfavourably link to ft.com . The media harping on this, and her father’s employment of similar funds for the purchase of vintage wine and champagne, is a bit like attacking candidate Trump for minimising his tax burden which Instead of the expected shock horror reaction, evoked something closer to envy from many who would do the same if they had half a chance.

    Another is the anti-establishment sentiment expressed by Olivier Tonneau in the Guardian article.

    A few weeks before the election, something important happened that was largely unnoticed: an opinion poll showed that the main concern of the people was neither unemployment nor immigration, but the reform of state institutions (institutional issues are rarely brought up in polls). There is a deep resentment towards a state they perceive as oppressive, corrupt and violent.

    link to theguardian.com

    To the extent that there could well be Le Pen voters out there who regard their intentions as their own business the polls may have larger margins of error than normal. One thing I would bet on is that if Le pen does win, the public response will echo that of Trump in the US and within 100 days her popularity will fall to unprecedented levels.

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