domingo, 7 de maio de 2017

Vitória importante, com resultados preocupantes

The Guardian view on the French election: Good luck, Mr Macron. You will need it
French voters have averted the catastrophe of a Marine Le Pen presidency. The task for Emmanuel Macron is to deliver change, prosperity, unity and healing

Sunday 7 May 2017 20.08 BST

Any other result would have been a European catastrophe and, for once, thank goodness, the opinion polls got it right. Emmanuel Macron has swept Marine Le Pen aside to become France’s next president. Mr Macron won by an even wider margin than the polls have consistently implied: 65.1% to 35.9%. It is the decisive majority against Ms Le Pen’s far-right racist challenge that France needed, and one of the biggest presidential wins in the history of the Fifth Republic, eclipsed only by Jacques Chirac’s victory over her father in 2002. It is also a decisive setback for what has sometimes been depicted as a rightwing populist tide threatening governments across the developed world in the wake of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election. The people of France have inflicted a major reverse on demagogic nationalism. Their country is safer for it. So is ours. So is Europe. We salute them for it. We wish Mr Macron every success.

But his victory is more a cause for relief than celebration. The new president has been audacious in his centrist campaign based on a new movement, En Marche!. He has also been incredibly lucky in his rivals. Until this second round, he spoke for a quarter of his compatriots at best. At various stages, François Hollande, Manuel Valls, Nicolas Sarkozy, Alain Juppé, François Bayrou, Benoît Hamon, François Fillon, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Ms Le Pen all threatened. Yet, one by one, the contenders knocked themselves out. He has a huge task of consolidation, particularly given that more than a third of French voters supported a far-right, anti-European, anti-immigrant and racist party leader, right up to the end. There is nothing to salute there.

Almost unknown to the French public until three years ago, the former banker and – only in France – former assistant to a philosopher, portrayed himself as an outsider, not entirely convincingly. Though relatively new to politics, he is a graduate of the elite’s hothouse, the École Nationale d’Administration, a Rothschild alumnus and a former minister. Many, notably on the left, proclaimed themselves “ni patrie, ni patron” – not for Ms Le Pen and nationalism, nor Mr Macron and “the boss”. He did well to counter this with a positive message of hope and reform, of liberal values allied to social justice, and of competence – but the abstention rate was the highest since 1969, at around 25%.

It is a reminder that handling the fallout from the eve-of-poll hacking of his emails is one of his easier tasks. He must demonstrate that his tough liberalism can be an effective sell in parliamentary elections. Then he must prove that his “neither left nor right” stance can offer the balm, growth and reform that France craves in the face of high unemployment, fear of terrorism, social and racial antagonism and European Union ineffectiveness. In victory, he said he wanted France’s new chapter to be one “of hope, and confidence rediscovered”. But these are huge tasks, in exceptionally uncertain terrain.

He has five weeks before the first round of elections that may make him the presidential prisoner of a hostile National Assembly in a “cohabitation” France can ill afford. Under the Fifth Republic it has had little experience of coalition government, and the party system, with the exception of the extreme-right Front National, is in disarray. The far-left will need to be won round by social programmes dependent on economic growth that eluded Mr Hollande. Each time Mr Macron falters, he may increase the chances of a rematch with Ms Le Pen in 2022. She has already pledged “a profound transformation” of her party to create “a new political force”.

The EU would have struggled to survive under Ms Le Pen – hence the unconcealed relief of Angela Merkel and Donald Tusk. Mr Macron is pro-European, but also pro-reform. He wants a eurozone budget and tighter fiscal cooperation, supports common defence plans, and wants to expand cross-border professional opportunities. He needs to engage, fast, with Mrs Merkel and other allies, not least to shift the priorities of German eurozone policies. There is absolutely no reason Britain, even amid Brexit, should not want Mr Macron to be a success in all this.

In the end, his challenge is to translate campaigning into governing and slogans into actions. He leads a nation in trouble, whose public is often more anxious and angry than confident and trustful. He must make innovative centrist government work on a continent where many have despaired of it. His own future depends on him living up to his promises. Many others, here as in France itself, have an equal stake in his success.

Vitória importante, com resultados preocupantes

Quatro pontos importantes a destacar sobre os resultados agora projetados

7 de Maio de 2017, 19:36

A primeira nota é que provavelmente o debate de quarta-feira terá sido determinante. Emmanuel Macron demonstrou garra e coragem, que eram aspetos que lhe eram criticados. Com isso terá conquistado alguns indecisos e, acima de tudo, terá afastado de Le Pen alguns dos que ponderavam votar nela – isto porque a candidata da Frente Nacional foi incapaz de defender as suas ideias de forma consistente e, pior, revelou ignorância sobre vários aspetos do sistema político.

A segunda nota é que ainda há perto de 12 milhões de desencantados com o regime francês. Estes são os desencantados da globalização, são os que ficam nas margens dos benefícios e são esses que têm de ser integrados no sistema para não voltarem a ceder aos populismos. São os eleitores que Macron terá de conquistar. É que a vitória era, de certa maneira, a parte mais fácil. O que interessa agora é aplicar o seu programa eleitoral e integrar os desiludidos do sistema.

A terceira nota tem precisamente a ver com essa conquista e a aplicação do programa eleitoral com que foi eleito. Há eleições legislativas daqui a seis semanas e Emmanuel Macron tem de promover o seu novo movimento de forma a conseguir uma maioria que apoie o seu programa. Se ficar refém de coligações fracas negociadas entre vários partidos, arrisca-se a ter um mandato tão mau como o de Hollande.

A quarta nota tem a ver com a necessidade de interromper este ciclo de subida do extremismo populista. É que esta é uma vitória importante dos defensores da democracia liberal, mas é também um caso sério de normalização da direita populista na Europa. A Frente Nacional duplicou praticamente a votação das eleições presidenciais de 2002, ainda com Jean Marie Le Pen, pelo que importa impedir novo crescimento nas próximas eleições.

5 takeaways from Emmanuel Macron’s win in France

What the centrist’s victory in the presidential vote means for France, Europe and the world.

By           PIERRE BRIANÇON          5/8/17, 1:19 AM CET

PARIS — Emmanuel Macron, the not-yet-40 former economy minister and banker, carried the French presidential election on Sunday, beating Marine Le Pen by a wider-than-expected margin of 66 to 34.

Macron struck a solemn tone, saying he wouldn’t ignore the mixed message from Sunday. Turnout was the lowest for a presidential vote since the 1969 election. Millions spoiled their ballots, unable to support either candidate. Yet Macron was also resolute, reiterating his commitment to “defending Europe” and saying he “wouldn’t be stopped by any obstacle” to his plan to reform France.

This French election, more than any in recent memory, resonated throughout Europe and across the Atlantic. In the wake of Brexit and Donald Trump’s unexpected victory last year, it offered a stark choice between a liberal, establishment vision for France and Europe personified by Macron and a nationalist, protectionist one offered by Le Pen.

Here are five takeaways from the young French politician’s victory:

1. European, ‘globalist’ France wins

The rise of Le Pen’s National Front and France’s persistent economic and industrial problems made this campaign a referendum on Europe and globalization. Macron repeated that the big divide was between those who see an open economy as an opportunity and those who, like Le Pen, seem to fear the challenges it offers. For months he was the only candidate who got cheers for Europe at his rallies, insisting it was the “solution” to France’s and others’ problems, not the problem itself.

Even though many of the left-wing voters who went for him in the runoff did so mostly to keep Le Pen out of the Elysée palace, the magnitude of his victory showed that Europe, the euro single currency and a liberal economy (in short globalization) are — contrary to stereotype — electoral winners, even or especially in France. Even Le Pen, who had long called for France to drop the euro and possibly leave the EU, changed her position on the single currency in the last days of the campaign to allay voters fears.

The European leaders and Commissioners who cheered for Macron will have a cooperative partner in Paris, but he will be a French president first.  Although a die-hard Europhile, he has also said that Europe should “protect” its citizens more. His priority in Europe is to restore the sputtering Franco-German engine of the EU project, which may worry more than a few other countries in the bloc. To make the relationship with Berlin work better, he wants to prove to the Germans that he can do what his predecessors have failed to do: reform the French economy.

2. Transatlantic ‘continuity’

Le Pen comes from a long family tradition of warm relations with Moscow and hostility to the alliance with America. Of all the leading contenders in France, Macron pushed the hardest line on Russia — and this weekend’s massive hack of his campaign email suggests that Moscow had identified him as a threat.

With his overall approach to foreign policy, including France’s reengagement with the U.S.-led NATO alliance initiated in 2009, Macron represents continuity with the past decade (and with his two predecessors). He signals a pragmatism on relations with Washington and a defense of French interests everywhere, even if he would prefer to do so from within the EU and in consultation with Germany. He says he won’t support any lifting of sanctions against Russia without signs of progress toward resolving the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

In other times, the election of a French leader who’s strongly committed to NATO and hawkish on Russia would be seen favorably in Washington. But these are unusual times, and the relationship with President Donald Trump is impossible to predict.

As all other candidates in this election, Macron has called Trump a new source of “uncertainty” for Europe. He didn’t refer to him as a “threat,” as the conservative candidate François Fillon did.

Across the ocean, Trump had praised Le Pen in a tweet ahead of the first round but soon after the Macron landslide was official, he tweeted his congratulations, saying “I look very much forward to working with him!”

3. Setback for far right, but populism alive and well

Marine Le Pen’s defeat is real but her National Front party has made major gains since the 2012 presidential election when she received 18 percent of the vote in the first round. As the party goes through soul-searching, as she announced in her concession speech Sunday night, even mulling a change of name, her setback may be only temporary. She received more than 10 million votes on Sunday, after many voters who had chosen the mainstream conservative Fillon or even far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon switched to her.

The French have shown once again, as they have done repeatedly in previous elections, that they don’t want Le Pen and her party in power. That’s why they fail as soon as they get close to grabbing a big prize. It happened in the 2015 regional elections when the National Front couldn’t win control of the two regions it supposedly dominates in the north and south of France.

But populism is not only a right-wing movement and the divide, as described by Macron, over whether economies should be open or closed is one that runs through the Left as well. The surge of Mélenchon in the first round showed that Macron’s ideas aren’t shared by many of those who voted for him Sunday.

How he deals with the anger and the frustrations of voters who feel they are paying too high a price for globalization will determine Macron’s capacity to govern and reform effectively, even if he gets a majority in parliament in six weeks’ time.

4. En Marche toward the third round — the parliamentary elections

Macron’s energies will now focus on getting an absolute majority in parliament in another two-round election on June 11 and 18. His En Marche (“On the move”) movement didn’t exist a year ago, and it is underfinanced. It hopes to profit from Sunday’s momentum, but may need help to get there.

Even though he wants half his future MPs to be newcomers to politics, Macron clearly hopes to benefit from the support of seasoned politicians either from the Socialist Party or from the conservative Républicains. Some have already expressed interest, especially since he is no longer asking them to quit their own party to join En Marche. But as an organization, the Républicains are gearing up to try to clinch the majority for themselves — and then force their own prime minister on Macron, who would then be reduced to a figurehead.

Le Pen said Sunday night that she would try to lead the opposition to Macron, but she is unlikely to get many MPs given the realities of France’s two-round electoral system. As for the Socialist party, it faces a trouncing in June after a disaster two weeks ago in the first round; its presidential candidate Benoît Hamon got just a little more than six percent of the vote. That means that its few MPs will likely decide for themselves whether they support Macron or not.

Macron’s aides say that En Marche candidates will defend his presidential program in the campaign to come, but it will be interesting to watch what lessons the new president will draw from his paradoxical victory — both large and ambiguous. Macron benefitted by running as an independent. Nuances may now be brought to the platform, depending on whether he thinks he needs the left-wing or the right-wing voters.

5. Reformer or healer?

It has almost become a cliché to note that Macron inherits a divided country — as illustrated by the big divisions between urban and small-town France, between the north-east leaning toward Le Pen and the south-west toward Macron, between the educated and the non-educated, between the quartiers chics and the derelict banlieues.

But the real question is whether Macron can deal with France’s long-term economic and social woes by implementing his reform “without waiting and without hesitating,” as he has said. If he wants to avoid the paralyzing opposition of organized labor, street demonstrations and even strikes that have crippled previous reform attempts, he will have a lot of convincing to do.

He said Sunday night in a late speech to sympathizers in front of the Louvre Palace that “a majority for change” had elected him president. But “it won’t be easy every day,” he said. It was the understatement of the evening.

The only way he can convince skeptics and opponents will be to get results fast. He can buy time by quickly sending the political signals that he will change old-style French politics — bringing in new faces both in parliament and government, as well as reforms to democratize the political process and make it more transparent. Europe’s current economic recovery will give him some breathing room too. But the biggest challenge of his presidency will be how he overcomes the tension that his change agenda creates in a troubled country: How to be both a reformer and a healer?

Macron e as coabitações
A Europa celebra, e com razão, a vitória de Emmanuel Macron

7 de Maio de 2017, 22:36

Ao derrotar Marine Le Pen, os franceses deram uma enorme lição de cidadania ao mundo, ao erguer, mais uma vez um forte “cordon sanitaire” para impedir a chegada da extrema-direita francesa ao poder. Com 74% de participação eleitoral, estão por isso de parabéns todos os que votaram Macron, para que este conseguisse aumentar a sua margem de vitória de 24% dos votos na primeira volta para 65% na segunda.

Agora, para governar eficazmente, mais do que representar uma escolha negativa, (o mal menor) Macron terá o grande desafio que é o de conseguir unir as forças políticas que o apoiaram a favor de um projecto de reformas tanto a nível interno como da União Europeia. O voto de ontem em Macron juntou apoiantes de Hamon, Fillon e Mélenchon na primeira volta, que tapando o nariz, votaram no candidato independente.

A polarização demonstrada entre candidatos na primeira volta das presidenciais mostra o grau de dificuldade que significa conseguir integrar estas forças políticas numa coligação propositiva. Em que medida é que as instituições francesas, e em particular o sistema político semi-presidencial francês vai agora ajudar a esta consolidação do poder de Macron? Há sinais preocupantes, seja por razões da dinâmica do sistema político, seja por razões de desgaste institucional. Recordemos que Hollande também foi eleito com o mandato de reformar a Europa contra o austeritarismo de Merkel-Schauble, e acabou perfeitamente sozinho com 4% de popularidade e sem reformas Europeias à vista. Para lá dos tiros nos pés do infeliz Hollande, existem, parece-me, algumas razões estruturais que condicionam o Presidente francês hoje e que temos de ter em conta.

Do ponto de vista da dinâmica do sistema político, o principal problema é que o Presidente é tão forte quanto o apoio que tiver no Parlamento.

Senão vejamos: a V República, criada no seu formato actual em 1958 pelo General de Gaulle, foi durante décadas apontada como um exemplo do sucesso da engenharia institucional na Europa. Isto é, da capacidade de desenhar um sistema político que permitisse garantir a estabilidade governativa e ao mesmo tempo a representatividade de todos franceses – num país que era visto quase como ingovernável. A ingovernabilidade fica demonstrada com o número de executivos que houve na IV República (1946-58), a saber: 21 governos em 12 anos. Foi de Gaulle que redesenhou o sistema político, por forma a criar um sistema político de liderança executiva bicéfala, onde um Presidente e um Primeiro-Ministro partilhavam poderes executivos, e eleições legislativas. O sistema ficou tal como ele e hoje quando, a partir de 1962, se estabeleceu a eleição directa do Presidente da República.

De 1958 a 1986, todos os presidentes franceses dominaram o jogo político, pois conseguiram sempre maiorias absolutas na Assembleia Nacional. Isso terminou com o primeiro período de coabitação entre o Presidente Mitterrand, que perdeu a sua maioria absoluta no Parlamento, para a direita. Com a coabitação, Chirac enquanto Primeiro-Ministro tornou-se no verdadeiro chefe do executivo, tendo o Presidente assumido um papel consideravelmente menor no processo político, tendo até deixado de presidir ao Conselhos de Ministros. A coabitação veio demonstrar que o poder do Presidente francês, mais do que dos poderes que a Constituição lhe dava, dependia essencialmente da força que tinha o seu partido no Parlamento. É aqui que se torna evidente a importância do que se vai jogar agora no mês que falta para as eleições legislativas que vão selar a eficácia de Macron nos próximos tempos, pelo menos a nível interno. Sem maioria na Assembleia Nacional, Macron fica condenado a coligações de opostos ou mesmo à coabitação.

Do ponto de vista do desgaste institucional, também existem alguns sinais do enfraquecimento do papel do Presidente. Em 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy foi o primeiro Presidente em funções a não conseguir garantir a re-eleição, tendo sido derrotado por François Hollande na segunda volta das eleições. Já em meados de 2016, com 4% de popularidade nas sondagens, Hollande decidiu que nem valia a pena ir a votos. Portanto, por diferentes razões, os dois últimos presidentes apenas cumpriram um mandato, sendo os únicos a fazê-lo na já considerável história da V República francesa, com excepção de Giscard d’Estaing (1974-1981). Além disso, ontem, Macron foi eleito com o nível de participação eleitoral mais baixo desde 1969. O sentimento de “déclin existentiel” que existe em França está, por sua vez, intimamente ligado às percepções que se têm sobre a capacidade do Presidente francês influenciar ou não o processo de integração europeia. Para além da coabitação parlamentar que por vezes diminui o Presidente francês, a “coabitação” europeia tem vindo, nas ultimas décadas, a contribuir para uma desafeição em relação às instituições e ao Presidente.

Hoje é dia de celebração, pois, mais uma vez, a extrema-direita foi derrotada numa eleição. Mas o próximo mês vai ser decisivo para se perceber se esta vitória se consegue realmente transformar num verdadeiro projecto político.

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