France's next President could be an Islamophobic "Thatcherite" who wants to dismantle the social safety net

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Well then… if can just get rid of Merkle we’ll have a full set now then, wouldn’t we.


“Thatcherite” sounds like a cool, old mineral.


I think that is a bit unfair to Fillon. Yes, he is a fairly conservative politician, with ties to the catholic right (so all the usual business with LGBT rights, abortions, gay marriage etc - even though he explicitly said he will not go back to that, despite not agreeing with it) but certainly not someone I would describe as “islamophobic”, even though I am not very fond of some of his ideas.

If you wanted a true islamophobe, you would have to look to the former president Sarkozy - who got eliminated in the first round of the primaries already. He was pushing stuff like banning of veils, internation camps, etc - basically what is extreme right (Front National) agenda.

And when it comes to his economic agenda - he is certainly very liberal and ambitious, but his agenda mainly concerns the (very overgrown) French state sector. That is where the 35 hour week and the various privileges and protections are mostly present. In the private sector pretty much nobody works 35 hours … The French are fed up with the non-functional state bureaucracy, never ending railway strikes and similar problems. Where his plans could be a problem is the idea of getting rid of 500 000 public servants - that includes also police, hospital workers, teachers, etc. That is simply not realistic and he will have to go back on that.

Fillon is certainly not an ideal candidate, but given what the French have to choose from, it could have been worse. Alain Juppe was unfortunately unable to convince the centre-right voters with his inclusion agenda and the economic program that was mostly seen as a bit more of the same as was done before. The voters see that agenda as a failure, the country is not moving forward for years - one reform is done only for two others to be neutered or even stopped completely, there is the terrorism, crime, migrants, unemployment …

As a foreigner living in France, I am certainly going to be more comfortable with Fillon as the president than someone like Marine Le Pen. THAT would be an openly fascist government that has things like deportation of foreigners on agenda, withdrawing from the EU (= that would likely be an end of EU), erecting trade and physical (!) barriers on the border under the silly idea that that will force manufacturing to return to France and stop migration.

The good thing is that Le Pen is unpalatable to many in France, the history with the Vichy regime and fascism is still very much alive. The bad thing is that despite of all that she still polls at around 30%.


The other choice is Marine Le Pen.

Watch the AfD in the elections next year.

Definitely not coal.


The forces of reaction and bigotry are on the march across Europe and the world again. We never learn.


AFD is not likely to upset the CDU in Germany, they don’t really have much of a program or so much popular support. It would also take a major screw-up by Merkel & co. If the current politicians learn from the mistakes, most voters will rather vote for them than for extreme right wing populists.

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AfD won’t win this time (presumably another grand coalition may be on the cards?), but they’re definitely rising. They’ll be in the Bundestag, could be the largest opposition party?


Or a disease.


C’est la vie.

I have absolutely no sympathy for Fillon, however - however - he will be a better choice than nutjob le pen. The left is hopeless. At least Sarkozy got hindered.


Sounds more like a yeast-extract-based food spread to me.


What are you drinking? Nobody works only 35 hours/week in the state sector, even if they are paid for 35 hours. And what you’re calling privileges are social benefits. People have fought to obtain them. Privileges are given at birth.


“At least they’re not a Neoliberal!!!”

-Some smug asshole, inevitably


Um, I beg to differ, but I am not a state employee. I only wonder why are the unions up in arms about the working hours to be pushed up to 38-40/week for the same(ish - not clear what actually Fillon wants to really do yet) pay if they are working them already. If what you are saying is true, then it would only make the current status quo official and change nothing for the employees. Perhaps things aren’t so simple?

And lets not split hairs over “benefit” or “privilege” - you know well what I have meant. Sorry, English isn’t my first language.

On the other hand, that 35 hour work week, along with a few other “social benefits” has brought the country to the point that it is not competitive, with the labor costs pushing the prices of French products out of reasonable ranges. And people wonder that they don’t have jobs when they are simply too expensive for companies to hire. Companies are either not hiring or moving production abroad (or both). Unfortunately, the French way of solving these issues tends to be not increasing competitiveness of the economy but often protectionism or leaning on the employers, all the while saddling them with more taxes, bureaucracy and what not.

That doesn’t mean that social benefits need or should be abolished, but let’s get real - nobody can live above their means forever. Some reality check and readjustment to get them in line with the performance of the economy is long time overdue.


I can see two problems with it, just at first glance…

First, they’re being treated unfairly, if they’re being paid for fewer hours than they’re expected to work. Taking the unfairness and making it standard (effectively lowering their hourly wage) doesn’t make it any more fair; it just puts a stamp of approval on it and adds insult to injury.

Second, if they’re now working 40h/week for 35h worth of salary; there’s no reason why, when 40h is the new standard, they shouldn’t be expected to work 45h/week for 40h worth of salary (which, in turn, is the same that they were supposed to be paid for 35h).


Are you talking about 16th arrondissement people who support Fillon, or those real privileged state employees who live with 1300 euros/month (I’m one of them)


We do, but mostly through experience rather than study of abstract ideas, like history. That’s why we have to go through this every generation or so.


One amusing fact: having Fillon as the cadidate for the Right makes it more possible to get to the second round of elections for Melenchon (who is, more or less, the equivalent to UK’s Corbyn, minus the decaying ‘Socialist’ Party).

The reason is simple: his victory means that Bayrou (center-right) will most probably be a candidate which eat into Fillon’s potential base. It would become even likelier if either Valls (current prime minister) or Hollande were to be the so-called socialist’s candidate.

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If the socialist candidate did make it to the second round, if it were against Le Pen, which way would that go?