Brexit-Trump in the dump

Monday, January 23, 2017

What is going to happen in this Europe of ours? A short answer.

Le Pen is number one with the two possible socialist candidates who have no chance at all, both of them.

Manuel Valls, 9% (-1) Front national (27%, +2), François Fillon (25%, +1), Emmanuel Macron (18%, -1), Jean-Luc Mélenchon (15%, =).

Benoît Hamon 8% (+1) Marine Le Pen (27%, +1), François Fillon (26%, +1), Emmanuel Macron (20%, -1), Jean-Luc Mélenchon (13%, -1).

In the second round she has no reserves since everyone will vote for the happy one who will be running against her, no matter who he may be and so far it is only the right (Fillon) or the center-left (Macron). The woman argument will not work.

We have a vast and long tradition in France of what we call republican discipline. In 1956 the Communists were first and they were barred from power because they had to have an alliance and everyone from the socialist to the right (no extreme right in those days except a populist movement, Poujade, with Le Pen Sr. in it who was soon to be sent to Algeria, but very small) got into an alliance to have a majority in Parliament. Republican discipline, including the Christian Democrat party of the time, a very important party in the center-right/left, more right than left (Macron is the same but more left than right and with no religious reference). You have to keep in mind De Gaulle went back to his village every Sunday to go to mass there and that was a religious reference that no one has ever tried to copy. Fillon is the first man on the secular right who dared say he was a regular Catholic faithful.

In that situation and except if some drastic event changes the situation (Brexit or Trump) we are moving towards Fillon or Macron. In fact, the only chance Le Pen would have to be elected is if she was running against Melenchon: extreme right against extreme left (what’s more Jewish) and the Republican discipline would have to work against both and we might be in an Austrian situation.

What she thinks is good for her, getting out of the euro, is a dream. France was before Brexit and is after Brexit the only country where a vast (extremely vast at times) majority of the people are for Brexit: get rid of the English, an old Gaullist reaction. But De Gaulle was for Europe based on a close alliance between France and Germany. In Germany the left has, so far only two possibilities to reach a majority: Red-Green-Pink (Linke-Grüne-SPD) but the scandal in Berlin does not help that one, or such an impact on the CDU/CSU from the extreme right that it could lead the moderate conservatives to vote for the SPD and enable them to have a majority with CDU/CSU led by the SPD or a majority on the left without Die Linke. Germany is a lot more open than France. And yet they still live under the total domination of the Nazi trauma and the acceptance of a vast body of immigrants is needed by the German economy that has a deficit in labor, including skilled labor, of something like at least 2 million people and the demography is pessimistic for the future. I have a niece “in Berlin” who just had a son with her German partner but she is not living in Berlin really: both have been connected to Georgia for a long time and she is right now in Tbilissi, probably with her life partner and their very young son. The anti-immigrant movement in Germany is not against all immigrants but against non-European immigrants. That’s the main difference with Brexit: a strong anti-immigration movement first of all against those they cannot block, hence the Europeans. That makes a Germanexit impossible because it should be carried by an alliance between the extreme right party and the conservative voters, or some section of the left.

Austerity is not the stake in France. The stake is “REFORM” of all social systems: reform to enable flexibility and fluidity on the labor market which is blocked by its rigidity. I borrowed money for some work on my house based on an estimation from a carpenter I have been working with for years. He did half the work but does not want to hire someone to be able to do the second half: I have the money, he does not do the job because if he hires someone it will have to be within the still valid rigid legislation: he is waiting for the next president who will enforce a law that has already been passed but is challenged by the unions (communists and fundamental socialists). Then the health service has to be reformed to clean up the unbearable waste generated by the system at all levels and particularly in hospitals that are still using nurse’s aides as charwomen: their first task is clean up the floors instead of taking care of patients which implies nurses are doing what the nurse’s aides are not doing though they should be doing it. And some simple decisions have to be taken to cut red tape and to get rid of multiple-mandates for elected people and get rid of our 36,000 city councils and bring civil servants at the German level which would mean cutting at least 25% of them. This will be achieved by office technology (AI or not) and the first impact will be to use computers at their highest level by connecting all the various systems (just such connections would create such economies of scale that the cost of bureaucracy would go down 25%). The next reform is the management of active and retired life so that the number of hours worked per week or per year, the number of years worked per life and many other elements of the sort are no longer drastically ruled and made compulsory by the LAW but can be flexible according to the professions, the qualifications and various other elements like health, family situation, etc. The next reform is to get rid of “University for all” up to and including first year of Masters. That leads to the phenomenal rate of 60% failing students at college level (first three years): a strict selection, orientation, streaming and numerus clausus (as we say in France) has to be introduced at the latest at the end of the first year with “some” freedom of choice in the first year but no more than two possibilities (a bad choice with failure and a second choice that has to be the good one or out). At the present moment students start asking for that and the traditional left leaning students’ Union is losing its majority to the benefit of a center right union that asks for selection to make classes more productive because the students would be more motivated to learn since there would be very little protection for the failing ones, and none after the first year. You pass or you step down. That would have a fairly good result since scholarships could be cut by two in number and could be doubled in amount per head.

That’s not austerity. That’s plain economic management with the new technologies. I will not say anything about having the basic, rote learning done with the Internet or computers with computers for all and then the same number of classes, the same number of teachers would be able to provide the students with a lot more personalized help and guidance. And that’s what the students want: they can learn the basics all by themselves but they want to discuss them more and to widen the scope with such discussions. It is the same thing with the labor market. And what’s more initiative and creativity have to be encouraged, especially in the field of high tech.

So the euro is really a marginal question provided the members of the EU can reassert their national identities and have clear powers in many fields. The necessity to also have an elected and powerful European parliament and a European government that is under the control of the elected parliament and is actually instated by this elected body, not by bureaucrats and bureaucratic politicians appointed by the various national governments and not by some elected bodies: they should at least be appointed by the various national parliaments and accepted by the European Parliament, one by one after serious probing about what they intend to do, and all decisions of this European commission should be validated by the European Parliament whose votes should be mandatory, and for important basic questions ratified by all national parliaments. That means to get out of the absurd situation in which we are, and finally set up a real constitution that would be written and voted by the European Parliament, then ratified by the national parliaments with a qualified majority of three fourths or two thirds of the parliaments and countries and the possibility for minority countries to remain out of some questions though under the obligation to instate an alternative policy that could be articulated on that of the majority states. And all decisions could be submitted to referendums if so decides a qualified majority of the national parliaments. So far we are dealing with economic, social, cultural and all other problems bureaucratically because the decisions are taken by appointed (beyond any control by elected bodies) people and not by duly elected people or people proposed by elected people and certified by regular elected bodies.




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Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, PhD in Germanic Linguistics (University Lille III) and ESP Teaching (University Bordeaux II) has been teaching all types of ESP