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Alternatively, another minority, on the Left, is prepared to acquiesce in many Muslim demands for the sake of civil peace — the path subtly derided by Houellebecq in Soumission. As for Macron, he seems to support immigration and more religious freedom for Islam as long as immigrants and Muslims behave as loyal and hard-working citizens. He is apparently convinced that a more open economy would help them to go mainstream more quickly.

The second problematic issue, as noted earlier, is social justice: a widespread perception that a two-tier system has replaced the much fairer France of the past. Thomas Piketty’s 2013 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century was a neo-Marxist interpretation of such feelings. Of much greater interest are the essays of Louis Chauvel, a sociologist and political scientist, on the decline of the French bourgeoisie: Les Classes Moyennes à la Dérive (The Drifting Middle Class), a pioneering book published in 2006, and the more recent La Spirale du Déclassement (Spiralling Down), published in 2016.

A third author, geographer Christophe Guilluy, became an instant celebrity in 2010 with his claim in Fractures Françaises that the nation was now split between a small, wealthy and thriving “Elite France” that lived and worked in the gentrified big cities and a “Peripheral France” that comprised “60 percent of the French population and 80 percent of the working class” and was relegated to the outer suburbs and the post-agricultural countryside. Elite France, for Guilluy, was one of globalisation’s big winners, whereas Peripheral France saw globalisation as its downfall. Elite France was in love with the free market, value-added immigration and multiculturalism, and the European Union; Peripheral France was longing to go back to the Gaullist era semi-statist economy, the welfare state and the nation state.

Here again, the mainstream parties were not bold or imaginative enough. Hence the spectacular progression of the National Front under Marine Le Pen, from 15 to 25 per cent of the vote nationwide. Since its foundation in the 1970s by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front had focused on the immigration crisis and Islam: the stroke of genius of Marine Le Pen (or of her adviser Florian Philippot) was to raise the social and economic issue to the same level. Likewise, part of Macron’s success lies with his attempts to reform job creation. Take, for instance, the deregulation of bus transport, one of the main measures of the 2015 Macron Act. French public opinion was amazed to learn that railways and airlines had hitherto enjoyed a monopoly on domestic transport, and that accordingly private bus companies had not been allowed to operate between French cities.

A word must be said about the French electoral regulations, and their impact on the rise of the 2017 rebels.

France doesn’t have one single electoral system, but rather, as the 1958 constitution devolves such matters to “organic laws” that can be passed or reformed at will, a host of heterogeneous, competing and usually complex systems tailored for the variegated levels of national or local politics. National elections — the presidential and parliamentary elections every five years — are decided by a modified first-past-the-post system, with two ballots instead of one. Local elections, every six years, and regional elections, every five years, are based on proportional representation; nevertheless, they are also decided over two ballots.

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April 15th, 2017
2:04 AM
Open primaries followed by runoff elections between the top two vote-getters is pretty common in the USA. It does work.

Empress Trudy
April 14th, 2017
1:04 PM
There is pretty obviously no more political space within which Jews can navigate in France anymore. Just as they started flocking to Le Pen she let slip the mask that the new FN is little different than the old one. The socialists don't want them, the Muslims want them dead, and everyone else on the spectrum is playing for time until the whole country implodes.

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