Contributed from Victoria
The French are heading for a presidential election at a time when the base of the Socialist Party is collapsing. The conservative Republicans (Republicains) are out of the race. It’s ultra conservative candidate François Fillon, is in trouble over the disclosure of having given his wife and children large sums of public money through fraudulent job creation. He is now under investigation. Although he admits error, he attributes the investigation to a media and left-wing plot and he will not step down.
Marine Le Pen, the leader and candidate for the National Front has been able to exploit community anger and is leading in the polls at around 25 percent. She could win. The polls also reveal that France is flowing the path being experienced by a growing number of countries, where its citizens are reacting against economic stagnation and are fed up with traditional politicians. With the traditional parties in decline and the rising of new movements, greater political instability is in the making.
Then there is 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron, a newcomer to the political scene, heading a youthful movement called En Marche! (Onwards!). Although generally portrayed as of the left, this movement’s stated aim is to unite and break the complacent two party system that has failed the country and its people. Macron is trailing Le Pen in the polls by only 3 points.
However, many commentators have cast doubt on whether a program to encourage investment from the corporate world and do away with the 35-hour week, while at the same time maintaining high level social services and other needs like the expansion of the transport system, can be implemented.
The Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon, is new and has a reputation of being from the left of the party. So far, he has been unable to convince a public that is distrustful of the Socialist Party.
Finally, there is the Left Party (Parti de Gauche). Its candidate has about 12 percent support, which could be enough to have an impact on the result of the election.
The Parti de Gauche is critical of the European Union and less amenable to investment and labour market liberalisation than En Marche!
France is in a complicated political situation. How it will develop is uncertain. But it is certain that French politics are undergoing change.