French President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling La Republique en Marche (LREM) party lost is an absolute majority in the National Assembly on Tuesday with the official creation of new political grouping.
This new political grouping a rejection of Macron politics for a more conservative approach? No. The defections are politicians moving further to the left and more state control over the economy that they feel have been unjust to the people. Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity (EDS) will be largely formed of seven MPs from La République en Marche (On the Move) and other ex-supporters of the president. The defecting MPs want to focus on green issues and social inequality. Their decision leaves Mr. Macron’s party with 288 seats, one short of a majority in the 577-seat lower house.
The EDS group said they had failed to change LREM from the inside and would now take an independent stance, neither allied to the government nor the opposition. One of the new party’s best-known figures, Paris mayoral candidate Cédric Villani, told French radio that what was important was that the new party went forward.
LREM could quickly regain the absolute majority if the future replacement of Olivier Gaillard, who is leaving the Assembly to become a local mayor, joins the ranks of Macron’s party. Some French political observers regarded Macron’s loss of an absolute majority as inevitable. The Macron camp has been plagued by a series of defections in recent months. He has been steadily losing support among lawmakers since 2017 when his majority stood at 313 seats. So what is the mood of the people on the ground, and where is France heading?
Riot police have arrested several people in Lyon as the Yellow Vest protests have returned. With Coronavirus lockdown restrictions being eased, people involved in the movement were able to take to the streets of France once again. President Emmanuel Macron is still facing major backlash from the activists, with many demanding his resignation. One of the protesters holds up a sign, reading: “Incompetent, Menteur, Assassin Macron Degage!” This translates to: “Incompetent, Liar, Assassin Macron get lost!”
The Yellow Vest movement was initially motivated by rising fuel prices and a high cost of living. Now,with Central Bank increasing currency debasement, this can only get worse. Anecdotal price increases on the street are already occurring. Restaurants are set to reopen June 2, 2020, though at 50% capacity and restrictions. Speaking to many French business owners, the Right Wire Report has learned many are going to be forced to raise prices and try to see if they can maintain pricing power – or go out of business. Our guess is that perhaps an initial surge of patrons from draconian lockdown policies may accept this, going forward, this may not be sustainable.
Meanwhile, migrant youths rioted near Paris yet again, attacking police with fireworks in response to the death of a teen motorcyclist. The disorder began after the death of 18-year-old Sabri Choubi, who was killed after ramming into a pole while not wearing a helmet on the northern outskirts of Paris on Saturday evening. Migrants in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil blamed police for the teen’s death and for the past two nights.
People on the ground have had a long suspicion of Macron. His background as an investment banker at the Bank of Rothschild has spun many conspiracy theories amongst the French people. Much of any stimulus money to help France out of the Coronavirus economic malaise has gone to large companies under the theory that they must be supported at all costs to ensure the backbone of the French economy. The latest Coronavirus stimulus is almost agreed between the leaders of France and Germany have jointly proposed the formation of a €500 billion ($545 billion) fund to help the hardest-hit EU nations recover for the coronavirus pandemic. No one believes that they will ever see a single euro from this money.
On the other hand, it must be said the people are scared of the virus in France. Even with the partial lockdown lifting, everyone is respecting, for the most part, the social distancing, face mask (70% are masked), and other provisions that the government programs have laid out. This reporter has questioned well over 50 folks first hand and asked whether they are scared or not of the virus. Or whether they believe the virus seriousness or agree with the lockdown measures in place. I have not yet to meet a single person that disagrees with the government narrative, though, of course, they don’t like it and wish lockdowns end as soon as possible. The French people largely have been condition to believe what their government has told them.
Looking into the Right Wire Report crystal ball, what we see is that France is being forced by the frustration of the people to lift the lockdowns, though this does not mean that they are not afraid. The initial surge of limited personal freedom will create a buzz that may carry people through the summer vacation period and into the fall – largely benefiting from government handouts. If no new extensive Coronavirus flare-ups occur, this surge may carry forward through the Christmas period.
French unemployment never really recovered from the 2008 Great Recession, where unemployment (see current and forecast) got up to over 10%, it’s about 8% now, prior to Coronavirus. Transient unemployment data points locally during the lockdown showed it spiked to 30%. Once we lift out of the lockdowns, it may settle back to around 15 to 20%. After the initial government support wears off, many expect that 10 to 30% of small businesses will close – where then all these workers will be going on to government aid. Government and big corporations’ jobs may fair better.
Food prices and other amenities are rising. It is hard to say what the averages are, but we have seen 10 to 20% increases on many items in the food stores – deals no longer exists as before. Building trades are mostly on hold unless the project had already started prior to Coronavirus. A black economy is starting to develop, which is both good and bad. Tax collection must be hurting the government finances. Higher taxes and service reductions will be in the cards. Cigarettes at 10 euros a pack has created a new brisk underground business – better now than weed. Many people collect government benefits and have a little illegal side business to augment their incomes. Immigration? Who knows, this is not the focus of the government … no one is really being checked or being deported due to Coronavirus – virtually an open border if you can make the treacherous boat trip from Africa.
The French mostly walk around, stunned. Like a deer staring into the headlights of a coming car, hoping what people know is coming won’t. Worrying mostly on how to find face masks – in some cases accosting those who do not wear them. And what of the second wave of Coronavirus – it is almost a certainty. The people in France are set to explode, and Macron will have his hands full. Look for frustration protests (with little policy understanding) to reach a boiling point. The mental state of most is to pretend and hope – for now. Will businesses step out and invest in this environment? But hope is not a strategy. And hope may turn to despair. Will the government save the French?
Unfortunately, for the French, the answer to bad government is even bigger bad government. The French politics and electorate are turning further Left, running to the government to save them – after they have been marinated in socialism for years. They think that a different leader will be the answer – but who? This is not unique to France – this is consistent with other countries in the EU region. Could some of this washup on the shores of America? Where France and Europe are heading in 2021 is very troubling – the storm clouds are building. Whatever you think of the Coronavirus, what is coming could be far worse.