Yesterday I went to vote at the Caracas French embassy. I smelled tear gases wafting around us. On one side democracy, on the other democracy's assassins.
Now that I managed to follow this blog principle of always including something about Venezuela in posts not about Venezuela I can give you an update on a very complicated election, for those who care here.
Good news first.
Pollsters, amazingly, got it right. And more than one of them. Compare to Brexit, Trump et al. Maybe US and UK pollsters could take lessons from French pollsters that tend to get it right more often than not.
The other good news is that the round up election from hell, Le Pen verses Melanchon has been avoided. We still have to get rid of Le Pen, but at least we do not have to chose between two ways for our own destructions (even though earlier reactions from the Melanchon camp seem to reflect a lot of ominous negative bitterness complicating the second round vote).
The bad news next.
The two extreme candidates add up more than 40% of the votes, more than 45% if you add some minor ones anti Europe, anti capitalism, etc... The three clearly pro Europe candidates sum 23.9 + 20 + 6.3 = 50.2%. The truly democratic parties barely reach half of the country. Other have misgivings about many things and are more than willing to change constitutions, close up the country, leave Europe, get rid of capitalism, and what not. Fortunately among them there are enough who hate Le Pen so that Macron should make it to the top in two weeks. Probably with 60% +
All of this being said it will be an exciting campaign.
One one side you have Emmanuel Macron, a successful technocrat who never run for office and is going to become the youngest president of France. His wife I understand is about 20 years older than him and used to be his French teacher. He majored in philosophy until he went to the private sector, namely high banking. From there socialist Hollande got him for his Elysee staff from where he became finance minster. The rest his history. After Giscard D' Estaing he will be the second finance minister to make it to the top, coming from the ministry most hated by the French, the one that taxes you.
What this says to us is that in spite of the image of adventurer that I do not like much, he is certainly a non conventional character and as such it is probably what France needs no to get out of its institutional and economical tailspin. Yes, I voted for him yesterday and I shall vote again in two weeks.
On the other side there is Marine Le Pen who would be the first woman president, which she will not because regardless of her ideas she starts with already more scandals around her neck than Macron. She is against gay marriage, against Europe, against the Euro, against immigration of any type, not as much against the US since Trump but pro Russian, etc.
Her unconscious betrays her more than it should which means that she is a bigot.
Clearly there is no way I could vote for her, the more so that Trumpians and Brexiters sort of like her more and more. Birds of a feather. Still I should add an important point. Le Pen does not have the monopoly of all "resentidos" as we call them in Venezuela, those people who carry grudges and follow any who may be able to avenge them. She has had to share that crowd with Jean Luc Melanchon with his very honorable 19% score, but oh so worrisome, The Melanchon supporters are just a tad less anti-Europeans unless Europe acts as they want. At least Le Pen truly wants Europe dead. We can grant her that sincerity. Melanchon wants to kill capitalism, she wants state control, or a capitalism more directed by the state. You know, like Korea or China. I suppose that we should be happy that they are divided considering that together they have 40.9%
Read that well, 40.9% of French do want to get rid of what gave them the longest peace and prosperity in history. Not reform it, get rid of it as Melanchon wants following the recipe of Chavez.
To give you an idea sum up the primary votes of Sanders and Trump and you are getting there.
Macron on the other hand was the least French of the candidates, the one most open to the brave new world, the least brexiter of them all, more polished than 95% of GOP politicos that "support" Trump, and 110% away from chavismo.
In short, the next two weeks will be a debate about the society France wants, as never before. A free, flexible, society where individuals will have to assume more responsibilities of their acts but still with a reasonable safety net, or a society which will close over itself, expel all undesirables and starts drifting away from the world transforming French uniqueness into French ridicule.
Anything less than 60% for Macron would mean that the reactionary forces will bite back at his tenure from day one. We must hope that he wins, with a large margin, and most of all , that he is up to the task which is something I have my doubts.
We shall see.