It would also allow Vladimir Putin to reach immediately his objective of restoring Russia’s imperialist power.
The results of the first round of the presidential elections reveal the deepening fracture in the French electorate. The extremist forces jointly represent a majority of the votes cast, even if their internal divisions favor, in principle, the re-election of the outgoing president. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the legislative elections to follow, the country risks being ungovernable and unable to implement long overdue reforms.
This unprecedented state of the French political landscape needs to be addressed with pertinent arguments that take into account the current national and geopolitical context; one should abandon hopes that rely on the outdated recipes of demonization that have kept the far right out of power until now.
Marine Le Pen’s official program remains, whatever she may say, a far-right offering, if not so much in its formulation as in the implied potential consequences. Indeed, a series of proposals are either unconstitutional or violate France’s commitments under international treaties, in particular the TEU. Nevertheless, the main argument against her candidacy must be based on the dangers that her election would pose to the population in terms of “purchasing power“, the central theme of her program.
Marine Le Pen skillfully maintains a confusion between “purchasing power” and “inflation”. She proposes a catalogue of measures designed to “give the population its money back “. At the same time, she castigates the looming “wall of inflation”, without admitting that the financing of her measures, promoting purchasing power, largely contributes to it; its result is a zero sums game, or, more likely, a negative one.
This sleight of hand finds its origin in the crisis of 2008/11. Since then, purchasing power has been supported by a profligate fiscal policy, made possible by a guilty tolerance of the European Council and the complicity of the ECB. Despite the latter’s excessively accommodating monetary policy, combining interest rate repression (favoring public indebtedness) and monetary easing (through massive purchases of sovereign bonds), the ‘inflationary’ effects of this policy have been channeled into the price of other assets, notably financial ones, aggravating the explosion of inequalities in an apparently fairly stable consumer price environment.
Economic expansion and steady technological progress, as well as profit-driven globalization (notably through the incorporation of China into the world trade circuit), have made it possible to absorb the rise in prices (inflation) of goods and services. The pandemic brought this ‘paradise’ to a halt. It revealed the weaknesses of an over-dependence on stretched supply chains (interrupted by successive lock-downs), as well as their vulnerability (blockage of the Suez Canal) and exacerbated by increasing obstacles to the free movement of people and goods (Brexit, health controls, sanctions, etc.).
While the 2021 economic recovery gave us hope to overcome the effects of the pandemic, after a “transitional” period of moderate inflation, the prolongation of the health crisis (particularly in China) and above all the outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine have profoundly altered the geopolitical landscape. New shortages are having a direct impact on the prices of raw materials and agricultural commodities, giving a more permanent character to inflationary pressures and generating a wage-price spiral whose long-term consequences are far from being under control.
This situation is unfolding at a time when the financial markets are showing signs of instability created by the distortions caused by the “unconventional” interventions of the main Central Banks: the simultaneous occurrence of overvalued stock markets, negative (real) interest rates and a proliferation of speculative financial instruments (Bitcoin, SPACS, NFTs, etc.), all within a hot inflationary context. While the US and UK central banks have begun to react, the ECB remains hesitant for fear of undermining the recovery weakened by the geopolitical context and of aggravating the debt service of the Eurozone countries.
The priority objective must remain to control inflation, which requires the concerted and coordinated intervention of the ECB and the European Council. However, Madame Le Pen, contrary to what she repeats at length in her meetings and declarations, intends to leave the Union and the €. She would, without hesitation, invoke the mandate she would claim to have received to defend the intangibility of French sovereignty, to justify this reversal which the vast majority of voters do not want.
It follows that it is a lie to present an electoral program to defend “purchasing power” without having the necessary levers to implement it. On the contrary, leaving the EU and the € will dramatically accelerate inflation, leading to successive devaluations of the new national currency, especially as France already suffers within the Union from a lack of competitiveness represented by the abysmal deficit of its external trade balance. There is no doubt that the objectives, that Madame Le Pen has set herself of improving the citizen’s purchasing power, are not achievable in the current context and that the electorate should be honestly informed of this. The televised debate on Wednesday 20th. April between the two candidates will be the ideal opportunity to confront Marine Le Pen with her contradictions and allow her opponent to repeat the knockout inflicted during the 2017 debate.
Finally, the election of Mrs. Le Pen would immediately freeze the Franco-German partnership that is essential for the survival of the Union. Thus, she will bring Vladimir Putin the accelerated realization of his ambition to destroy the EU on a silver platter. This will allow him to complete the annihilation of the Ukrainian people without any protest from the international community.
In this situation – as the leaders of all French “republican” parties are repeating in chorus: “not a single vote should be cast in support of Madame Le Pen” in the elections on April 24th.