France

Macron Victory Not Yet a Win for Globalization or Economic Reform

An electoral victory is just a necessary prerequisite to liberalization and reform; without it, populists will only gain power.

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Jean Menjoulet/Foter.com

Emmanuel Macron, the former economy minister who pushed liberalization under President Francois Hollande, roundly defeated the National Front's Marine Le Pen, who campaigned on an anti-immigration, big government platform.

Le Pen's candidacy was about more than membership of the European Union or the merits of an open society, but about the liberal, pro-market values that have lifted billions out of poverty in the last half century. Her defeat is not yet a win for globalization or economic liberalization.

"The problems are still there," analyst Antonio Barroso told Reason last month. "And it's the challenge of these leaders, particularly Macron, to alleviate some of these problems in the next five years, otherwise we'll be in the same position next time."

Neither is Macron's victory a victory yet for globalization or free markets. And it's certainly not a win for Barack Obama, the French media, or the West, as MSNBC's Joy Ann Reid suggested. It's barely a win for the EU, which is still bungling Brexit negotiations and facing a loss of popularity across the continent—even countries that have joined the EU more recently than Western European ones and have been historically enthusiastic, like Poland, have elected Euroskeptic governments.

Macron must now commit to the kind of economic reforms that get the French government (which accounts for 57 percent of GDP and carries a GDP to debt ratio of 100 percent) out of the way, alleviating the economic pain it causes and dispelling the appeal of simplistic populists—these are reforms the EU has sometimes suggested, but they are not the kinds of reforms wholeheartedly supported by other factions commenters like Reid insist the French election is a victory for.

Hollande becomes the first president in the history of the French Fifth Republic not to seek a second term. The Socialist started his presidency rejecting his predecessor's attempts at reform but eventually appeared to come to understand the need for reforms and liberalization to rehabilitate the French economy.

In 2015, the Hollande government passed a set of reforms that were known as the "Macron Law," which included such provisions as making it easier to lay off employees and allowing more stores to stay open on Sundays and in the evenings. The law was passed without a vote in the parliament, which Macron defended from criticism of being anti-democratic. "Is it democratic to keep procrastinating?" Macron said at the time. "There is a moment when you have to act."

Macron's proposed reforms during the presidential campaign were not as well-defined or bold as that of the Republicans' Francois Fillon, who became embroiled in a scandal over hiring family members for no-show government jobs. In the end, the second round presidential election was the first that did not include a member of either of France's major two parties, the Socialists and the party now known as the Republicans.

Le Pen's loss was not unexpected—she trailed by about 20 points in head-to-head polling against Macron and ultimately finished nearly 25 percent behind him. Comparisons of Le Pen to both Brexit (because of her opposition to the EU) or Donald Trump (because of their shared rhetoric on immigration and radical Islamic terrorism) are misguided. Brexit was a referendum on British membership in the European Union—untethered from specific policy agendas, which will be worked out in the June parliamentary elections there and beyond. And Trump, despite his populist, pro-entitlement rhetoric, is not the kind of anti-capitalist that Le Pen made herself out to be.

Le Pen was able to perform better than any previous National Front candidate (though in a strategic move she technically left the party weeks before the election) because in the last decade she has tried to distance herself and her party from the kind of anti-Semitism and racism of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who disowned her after she suspended his party membership.

The younger Le Pen, as economist Emmanuel Martin explained to us last month, also ditched any lip service to smaller government. Instead she embraced the welfare state, winning over much of the old French Communist Party and many trade unionists along the way.

Le Pen's success, as far as it went, is a symptom of decades of anti-free market rhetoric, where the same economic interventionists and central planners who thwart the progress brought on by globalization blame the forces they seek to stop on their own failures. The growing support for illiberal, economically backward policies across the political spectrum in the West is a troubling product of that rhetoric. Ironically, it comes while many Latin American countries, as The Economist's intelligence unit pointed out earlier this year, are returning to the sober policies of pro-market, center-right candidates after years of populist leftists who have left their populations worse off than they were.

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  1. “And it’s the challenge of these leaders, particularly Macron, to alleviate some of these problems in the next five years, otherwise we’ll be in the same position next time.”

    Bets, anyone? Place yer bets.

    1. I’m sure European nations will move towards free markets and limited government real soon.

      They have a pretty strong record of defeating socialism.

      1. Given that Le Pen’s best performance was with a.) the youth vote and b.) women, and her worst performance was with the over 65 vote, I suspect the globalist faction is going to find itself in an tighter situation by 2022.

        1. I hope so. The Globalist anti US sovereignty crowd has high jacked the left wing politics in America today.
          I am so happy that I never have hear those most ominous words “President Crooked Hillary” but I fear the establishments Globalist movement and wholly owned MSM that is alive and well as much as ever. Beware, this battle is won but the Globalist MSM fights on. If President Trump’s only accomplishment ever was to beat all possible odds against both political parties and the entire left wing and V.R.W.C. and the entire Globalist establishment and their establishment MSM to save our national sovereignty he may have become our absolute presidential all time MVP on January 20, 2017.

          1. If President Trump’s only accomplishment ever was to beat all possible odds against both political parties and the entire left wing and V.R.W.C. and the entire Globalist establishment and their establishment MSM to save our national sovereignty he may have become our absolute presidential all time MVP on January 20, 2017.

            Absolutely. That victory can’t be understated. It proves at least a remnant of our political power as voters still exists.

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  2. Pretty cool how every news outlet calls this election a win for the moderate left guy over the crazy right win la pen.

    What is right wing about gaining communist support and appealing to big government and entitlements?

    There is no such thing as right wing in politics. At least not as far as actual elected officials are concerned.

    People are still stupid enough to think that the Nazi’s, NATIONAL SOCIALISTS, were a right wing faction just because they could call hitler’s atrocities the opposite of the peace loving, rational communists. The fascists are all about government collusion and cronyism. If I recall correctly, Obama was quite good at that and trump is well on his way.

    Politics is such a hilarious and disgusting game played out on the lemming sheep who lap up everything they are told.
    Basically you have free market capitalism, and those who are intelligent enough to know that that is our best hope to strive for. Then you have everything else under the sun which ultimately is a force of Marxist thought or just blatant corruption to start with.

    1. LEAVE THE RIGHT BRITNEY ALONE!!

    2. Basically you have free market capitalism, and those who are intelligent enough to know that that is our best hope to strive for. Then you have everything else under the sun which ultimately is a force of Marxist thought or just blatant corruption to start with.

      And the question is rarely-to-never “Which one will win?” Almost always how far will the former be bent and contorted in order to accommodate the latter.

      1. Yep.

        and the pols will gladly use the discontent to blame capitalism because nothing says votes like the plight of the luddite who cannot hold a real job.

      2. Sure, but the latter is also bent & contorted to accommodate the former.

    3. Yes but what happens when International committees/government get bigger through pushing “free trade” deals and agreement rounds (ie: GATT)?

    4. I don’t disagree entirely. Free market capitalism is a key factor but I would like to see more R&D go into enough redistribution of our U.S. GNP go to preserving and vitalizing a strong middle class. I think employee owned industrial industry at home (in the lower 48) could help immensely. No better time than now with rebuilding our domestic labor force at better wages on everyone’s mind to encourage putting us back into it (middle class) and the money where the mouth is. We bailed out the banks, time to repay the favor.

      1. So even more time and money is suddenly going to find you that magic benevolent redistribution scheme?

        That’s pure idiocy.

        People without money need to be free to find their own ways to acquire and build resources. People with these ‘good ideas’ are in the way. Just step the fuck aside.

  3. >Le Pen’s candidacy was about more than membership of the European Union or the merits of an open society, but about the liberal, pro-market values that have lifted billions out of poverty in the last half century.

    What fucking difference will pro-market values matter if your entire country is Muslim and you live under Sharia and the constant threat of terrorism? I cannot take libertarians seriously.

    1. Don’t worry, we do take Trumpistas like you and their predilection for hysterical fearmongering very seriously.

      1. They burnt down the museum, destroyed the war memorial and made my children into sex slaves but at least I have muh NAP and low taxes!
        -libertarians

    2. Which European country is “living under Sharia Law”?

      It’s always “right around the corner”, isn’t it.

  4. The Spanish libertarian Juan Ramon Rallo wrote on his facebook page:

    “What did survive last Sunday in France was a socialdemocratic consensus facing an unhinged threat from a Fascist-like nationalism. Nothing more than that. It’s thus very difficult for a [libertarian] to be exited by Macron except as someone who defeated a much worse alternative. Sometimes not moving backwards looks like progress.”

    1. NO ONE EXPECTS THAT SPANISH LIBERTARIAN…. oh. Uh. Nevermind.

      CB

    2. Spanish libertarians exist????

      Does not compute! Only white people can be libertarian! /alt-right

      1. Spanish people aren’t white? I think you’re thinking of Hispanic, but that is classified as an ethnicity and not a race.

        FYI- Spanish people are not Hispanic

        1. There are rumors to the effect that Spanish people aren’t “really” white. Same with sicilians.
          Something about moorish blood or something.

        2. There are rumors to the effect that Spanish people aren’t “really” white. Same with sicilians.
          Something about moorish blood or something.

        3. There are rumors to the effect that Spanish people aren’t “really” white. Same with sicilians.
          Something about moorish blood or something.

        4. There are rumors to the effect that Spanish people aren’t “really” white. Same with sicilians.
          Something about moorish blood or something.

          1. Ok, that’s a bizarre justification for the comment. What ‘rumors’? FYI- genetics is not based off of rumors from some guy on Twitter

        5. Fe: WakaWaka,

          Spanish people aren’t white?

          They aren’t WASPy, the only kind of white that Coulter likes.

  5. I don’t really know anything about Macron, but he sounds like a garden variety, crony capitalist-catering, progressive. Sure, he might be better than the socialists on free market reforms in France, but I bet he will aso deliver a heavy dose of finger-waving nannyism

    1. He’s an ex-Rothschild investment banker, socialist party member, and flipped between government economic positions and his banking ties. Oh, and his GILF wife is 64.

  6. I know the French tend to be much more open-minded about having affairs and sexuality in general. But it does strike me as a bit weird that this Macron guy married his former teacher who is nearly 25 years older than him (not that there is anything wrong with that!), but what does it say about his character that he seems to need a permanent mommy figure?

    1. I assume the old lady is just a beard and that either he’s another Anthony Weiner going after teenage girls, or “he prefers the company of men” as Marge Simpson famously said.

      1. “he prefers the company of men”

        I thought the same thing, but didn’t think that was a big deal for the French-they don’t seem to mind if a guy goes after teenage girls either, just ask Roman Polanski…

        1. I’m sure he is simply a whore for that old bag’s money and/or access to prestige or some nefarious reason.

          He is a politician after all. No story there other than the obvious.

  7. Macron must now commit to the kind of economic reforms that get the French government (which accounts for 57 percent of GDP and carries a GDP to debt ratio of 100 percent) out of the way

    *snort*

  8. The law was passed without a vote in the parliament, which Macron defended from criticism of being anti-democratic. “Is it democratic to keep procrastinating?” Macron said at the time. “There is a moment when you have to act.”

    Well… hang on now… I can see how this could be viewed as victory for Barack Obama.

  9. Le Pen’s success, as far as it went, is a symptom of decades of anti-free market rhetoric, where the same economic interventionists and central planners who thwart the progress brought on by globalization blame the forces they seek to stop on their own failures. The growing support for illiberal, economically backward policies across the political spectrum in the West is a troubling product of that rhetoric.

    This bears double emphasis.
    The “white working class” that backed Trump in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, is none other than the same union labor vote which destroyed their own industries by making them uncompetitive in global markets. They scapegoat immigration and trade for problems brought about by decades of institutionalized unionization of American industry – particularly in *exactly* the places that backed Trump the most. This a problem of the failed policies of the LEFT, and what is effectively a left wing national socialist takeover of the Republican party. Decades of telling people that unions are awesome and capitalists are the enemy and workers should all go on strike to demand higher wages/benefits, and the government should force business to negotiate with them destroyed the American manufacturing base. Not trade. Not immigration. Not automation. The fucking unions did it, and they have still not learned that lesson.

    1. Decades of telling people that unions are awesome and capitalists are the enemy and workers should all go on strike to demand higher wages/benefits, and the government should force business to negotiate with them destroyed the American manufacturing base.

      Unions haven’t had much of a good rep in this country since public sector unions became more prominent in the labor movement. Also, one could argue that refusing to negotiate with a union is a violation of the workers’ right to free association. And nobody told anybody that the “capitalists are the enemy”; people just naturally figured that out by themselves.

      Not trade. Not immigration. Not automation. The fucking unions did it, and they have still not learned that lesson.

      If that’s the case, why the hell is the manufacturing sector in Germany stronger than ours? The Germans are rather pro-union and have laws that actually require companies to staff their supervisory boards with elected union reps. If unions are the cause of deindustrialization it seems to me that Germany should have been hardest hit.

      1. As the economic engine of Europe, Germany is not seeing the same reactionism (let’s stop calling it mere “populism”) as in other European states like France. This is telling.

        1. As the economic engine of Europe…

          This is why I think Germany oughta get split in two again. North and South maybe, maybe throw them a bone by letting them do another Anschluss. This is the third time that they’ve tried to gain control over Europe, and the first that it’s actually succeeded.

  10. Fortunately the EU’s likely to die horribly in the next decade anyway, or voting for Macron’s ‘free market reforms’ would actually just be a vote for EU authoritarianism and planned economy ten to fifteen years down the road.

  11. RE: Macron Victory Not Yet a Win for Globalization or Economic Reform

    Europe: One big happy socialist family that is more than willing to give their hard earned money to bureaucrats, politicians and their cronies so they can loot their respective treasuries while simultaneously further enslave their unbelievably naive and economic illiterate masses still addicted to the lies of socialism.

    1. Yeah, us Europeans never know anything for sure. Only you big American guys know the real literal truth.’Bout the economy. And stuff. Not like any economic ideas have ever been born in Europe, that’s for sure!

  12. The problem with the EU is that it’s a top-down structure with centralized decision-making. Unless the EU undergoes a huge change in this regard, prepare for more of the same kinds of extreme politicians rising to the surface to feed more fear and sow more doubt. It doesn’t take a rational platform to succeed when the general tone is reactionism against the EU and “elitism”.

    Just being “post war Europe” isn’t enough anymore. People do have real grievances regarding the EU, but they’ll continue to get awful answers from reactionaries until some fundamental change comes.

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