See my comments on Le Pen’s defeat in Monday’s Boston Herald. I said, “Le Pen is not going away, but this is a major defeat for her.” As the article notes, I attribute Le Pen’s success to her charisma and name recognition and said it will be tough for another nationalist to pick up her momentum. “This is a family enterprise, in many ways.”
I was quoted at length today in the Washington Post on the French elections and why populism did not triumph there. I helped to make the case that compared with Britain and the United States, the countries history explains why the center held in France.
Read the article on the Washington Post’s website>>
Here are my comments to the reporter:
There is likely to be higher turn out in the first round, if only because there has been so much build up with real debates between the many different candidates. Macron and Melenchon are most likely to attract undecided voters. Le Pen voters have been committed for quite a while, even if her rhetoric has ramped up in recent days, and may enable her to pick up disenchanted Fillon (center right) voters.
Anything is possible in this race. The question is, if Melenchon is the second man, is Le Pen the first woman? That is what most analysts suggest, and established politicians fear, because they think that will mean that Le Pen is elected. ‘Strategic’ thinking among voters may mean that they pull back from Melenchon in the end, and vote Macron. If the contest is Macron/Le Pen, Macron wins. If, however, Fillon comes from behind, to make it a Fillon/Le Pen race, then the abstention on the left could mean a Le Pen victory.
My thoughts on how the challenges facing the EU from populism, and how progressives can fight back, in particular by rethinking how to do with governance of the Euro and how to re-envision the EU:
In recent years, the European Union has suffered through a cascading set of crises, including the Eurozone crisis, the refugee crisis, the security crisis, and Brexit. But rather than bringing the EU together, with concerted responses that would demonstrate its common values on its 60th anniversary, these crises have revealed cross cutting divisions among member states. What’s more, they have been accompanied by major crises of politics and democracy for the EU as well as its member states.
At EU level, questions are increasingly raised not only about the (lack of) effectiveness in solving the various crises but also democratic legitimacy. The causes are EU governance processes characterized by the predominance of closed-door political bargains by leaders in the Council and by a preponderance of technocratic decisions by EU officials in the Commission and the European Central Bank, without significant oversight by the European Parliament. At national level, concerns focus on the ways in which the EU’s very existence has diminished elected governments’ authority and control over growing numbers of policies for which they had traditionally been alone responsible, often making it difficult for them to fulfill their electoral promises or respond to their voters’ concerns and expectations.
On Friday, March 31, I was quoted in another Washington Post article on the upcoming French elections. Making the case that the anti-European sentiment in France closely mirrors that of the Brexit and Donald Trump phenomena in Britain and the United States, I pointed out that it’s the same discourse of globalization gone too far, of outrage over high unemployment — and especially youth unemployment. As the authors of the article point out, “the general unemployment rate in France has hovered around 10 percent for years, and the youth unemployment rate is about 26 percent.” But the phenomenon is also sociocultural. People really feel a loss of control, political and otherwise. Le Pen gives people a nostalgia for a vanished past, a past most people don’t even remember.
Read the entire article here.
The Washington Post asked experts on French politics for their observations on the upcoming elections and their “guesstimates” of the first-round winner and final result. My comments appeared in yesterday’s issue as part of a feature entitled “The Guesstimator: Predict the French presidential election and win a free Post subscription!” Here’s what I had to say:
First-round winner: Le Pen, 32 percent; final results: Macron 57 percent, Le Pen 43 percent. “Le Pen’s base is no more than 40 to 45 percent,” while Fillon and Macron are competing for a realigning electorate. Hurting Le Pen further is that the French are “appalled” by Trump. Finally, Schmidt notes, the “fake jobs” scandals facing Fillon and Le Pen will help Macron. If Fillon does survive the first round, Schmidt predicts Le Pen will pick up some votes from the left due to her strong defense of welfare and her anti-globalization stance.
Read the other “guesstimates” here.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation asked a number of academics and politicians how to keep the EU together. Is it time for more or less EU integration? What does the EU look like in 60 years? The answers recall the peace project Europe or advocate an EU integration of different speeds – see my contribution below!
Other comments can be found here.
On March 21, 2017, I took part in a conference celebrating the 60th anniversary of the European Union hosted by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies.
The event, entitled “Looking for a Different Europe: Reflections and Perspectives,” was attended by a number of major political officials responsible for their countries’ European affairs policy including former President of the European Parliament, Enrique Barón.
I spoke as part of panel entitled “More Inclusive, More Political, More Democratic: Europe Beyond Populism,” along with Barón.
The keynote at the event was delivered by Nicolas Schmit, Minister of Labour, Employment, Social Economy and Economic Solidarity in Luxembourg.
At the start of March, the European Commission published a white paper ‘On the Future of Europe’. Vivien Schmidt and Matt Wood assess the Commission’s proposals, arguing that while the paper’s focus on differentiated integration is pragmatically useful under the current circumstances, this strategy could exacerbate distrust in the EU if it is not accompanied by greater accountability and transparency in decision-making.
Read the article on the LSE’s EUROPP blog>>
On March 8, I will take part in a conference-debate on the ”European Varieties of Capitalism in the Shadow of the Eurozone Crisis” at ULB. My presentation will be followed by a debate introduced by: Amandine CRESPY, Professor in the Department of Political Science, ULB, and Nicolas VERSCHUEREN, Professor attached to the Department of History, Arts and Archeology, ULB. The conference is organized by Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences of ULB with the participation of the Institute for European Studies.