Thunderbolt and lightning: Messages from France for the UK General Election

arc⁴ Director, Derek Long, highlights what the French Presidential Election can tell us about the result of our own June 8th contest

Le Pen’s second place shows the limitations for the harder right
- Le Pen’s second place does not presage a UKIP surge
- This has all happened before when the left was divided and Le Pen Père got through in 2002. He lost by a mere 83% to 17% to the revamped Gaulliste, Chirac.
- The worrying news for Labour’s heartlands is that some of Le Pen’s support comes from Trumpian post-industrial voters in the former metal bashing regions.

Mélenchon’s stronger show suggests a ceiling for a harder left approach
- Mélenchon did get 19% of the poll – but …
- He still came comfortably behind an entirely discredited conservative, a far-right candidate and a Social Democrat/Liberal author of anti-trades union laws
- He has consolidated the old Communist Party vote (like Mitterand did for the Parti Socialiste (PS) in the 1970s) but, with a good campaign, the PS vote up for grabs, Le Pen on the rise and Capitalism going through a major crisis, he still came 4th…

Macron’s rise has the whiff of an SDP insurgency, rather than a centrist realignment
- The Assemblée Nationale elections will give more of a clue whether this was faute de mieux and merely the prelude to US style gridlock (which the AN will win)
- Giscard d'Estaing broke the Gaullist monopoly in 1974 but was not re-elected
- So, as in 2010 – can anyone fake the authenticity needed to break through in the UK?
- And if En Marche doesn’t succeed in France, it may retard UK moves for an anti-Conservative rapprochement for 2022

Be nice to sensible politicians – it’s getting harder to form compromises out there
- We are back in the 1930s (as I have mentioned many times). The managerial centrist parties are losing share to the extremes – 40% voted extrêmes this time in France.
- The first five ‘big’ ‘parties’ share of the vote fell from 94% to 91% - so, even when they win, their mandates are a little less solid than before
- Mélenchon is consulting on abstention or ballot spoiling rather than support Macron
- Expect more votes in the UK for very fringe parties like “Get the coppers off the jury”

The voters are very off-piste about their choices
- Spoilt papers were up to 2.6% (a 32.8% proportionate increase !)
- Turnout was down 1.5% (a 2.1% proportionate fall)
- Despite the strong choices available, some voters are agreeing with Freddie Mercury that “Nothing really matters. Anyone can see.”
- And the long range forecast for democracy is …
“Thunderbolt and lightning, Very, very frightening me”