Saturday, January 20, 2018

President Macron of France and Jeremy Corbyn Leader of the Opposition in the UK

President Macron and Jeremy Corbyn are if my understanding of the French political scene is correct, almost at opposite ends of the political spectrum with Corbyn being left, indeed quite far left of centre and Macron though initially socialist now apparently being right of the centre political ground.

The coming to the political fore of both men however has much in common. Both were initially hardly men of known political clout. Indeed Jeremy Corbyn almost only became  the UK Labour Party leader by accident when the party felt  obliged to add him the the list of potential party leaders to give a reasonable number for members to choose from. Emmanuel Macron really went one further by forming his political party at the 11th hour or even later yet still out doing the long established political parties in his country.

Corbyn surprised many by being elected political leader in 2015 by a landslide. The French President's victory in 2017 was even more surprising.

The election of Macron however involved a large number of spoilt ballots and  a record number of abstentions from voting by members of the French electorate. 

Jeremy Corbyn's election  does differ from Emmanuel Macron's in that  a large number of new, principally young people, were recruited to the Labour Party. They presumably were convinced that Mr Corbyn (who at 68 is the same age as yours truly) would if PM, work wonders for their young generation. The UK  current university-from-school generation, perhaps perceive themselves as losing out, after the baby boomer and pre-new millennial generations which preceeded them.

Emmanuel Macron's election success, I conclude was based partly on many of the French electorate being disillusioned with their more traditional and longer established political parties and partly on many ordinary French voters being so worried about the prospect of Marine  Le Pen the leader of an ultra right wing party gaining power that they voted for the only person on the ballot paper who could oppose her. The presidential system in the Republic narrows the choice of candidate to  two, in the final conclusive voting round.

French Presidents tend to become unpopular as their presidency progresses principally because of violent opposition to their attempts at  reforming the civil service and workers; rights in the Republic. My own view is that Emmanuel Macron will fail to modernise French Labour laws sufficiently to bring their national unemployment rate down significantly and that the parties which he swept aside will in due course come to the fore once more.

As for Jeremy Corbyn, again my view is that he came to lead the UK Labour party also as a result essentially of a protest vote though mainly by the young, as in general ultra right political parties are uncommon in the UK whereas they have  sadly become more commonplace on the Continent as for example in France and  Austria.

Politically the future will be of considerable interest.  Will Macron succeed and will Corbyn become Prime Minister? When will there be a female president of France or indeed a female political leader of the Labour party in the UK? 

Meanwhile the female  political leader of the moderate right  in Germany, Angel Merkel, continues to strive for a coalition with  the moderate left wing party, months after their general election.

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