What Lessons Should the US Learn from UK and French Elections?


by Mish Shedlock, Mish Talk:

In politics, you need to understand the message voters make. So, what is the message from France? UK? Who won?

This morning, a friend of mine commented “I watched a British outlet last night that characterized the election as a win for Macron.

I replied “That’s like getting news from Rachael Maddow or The View.”

My friend didn’t say he agreed, only that is what the outlet said.

TRUTH LIVES on at https://sgtreport.tv/

Regardless, I don’t criticize those watching nearly anything. In fact, I encourage that.

Following the Trump-Biden debate, I tuned into MSNBC just to see what they had to say. I had more fun watching the MSNBC meltdown than those watching the predictable Fox news take.

I draw a line at watching The View unless you are seriously interested in laughing at the stupidest discussion on TV.

Thoughts from The View

Returning to sensible discussion, let’s go over the French Election numbers.

French Election Results

  • Macron (Ensemble) had 245 seats, now 159
  • Le Pen (National Rally RN) had 89, now 142
  • Stéphane Séjourné (Popular Front Alliance FP) had 131, now 180.

The “had” numbers above are from the last election, not the 2014 pre-election seat totals which may differ slightly.

To spin this as a victory for Macron is beyond delusional. To spin this as a loss for Le Pen is also delusional, just not quite as bad.

France is Now Ungovernable

On July 7, I commented, France is Now Ungovernable Following a Pyrrhic Victory for the Left-Green Alliance

I did not expect National Rally to win a majority, but nor did I expect a third place finish. This is a terrible outcome for both Macron and France.

Who Lost?

That one is easy. Macron. CBS News did a good job explaining why.

With no majority and little possibility of implementing his own plans, Macron comes out weakened from the elections.

Three major political blocs emerged from the elections — yet none of them is close to the majority of at least 289 seats out of 577 required to form a government on its own. The National Assembly is the most important of France’s two houses of parliament. It has the final say in the law-making process over the Senate, which is dominated by conservatives.

While not uncommon in other European countries, modern France has never experienced a parliament with no dominant party. Such a situation requires lawmakers to build consensus across parties to agree on government positions and legislation.

France’s fractious politics and deep divisions over taxes, immigration and Mideast policy make that especially challenging.

This means Macron’s centrist allies won’t be able to implement their pro-business policies, including a promise to overhaul unemployment benefits. It could also make passing a budget more difficult.

Macron has said he would not work with the hard-left France Unbowed party, but he could possibly stretch out a hand to the Socialists and the Greens. They may refuse to take it, however. If he can’t make a political deal, Macron could name a government of experts unaffiliated with political parties. Such a government would likely deal mostly with day-to-day affairs of keeping France running.

Complicating matters: Any of those options would require parliamentary approval. The left has been torn by divisions in the past months, especially after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.

Macron’s move to call snap legislative elections pushed leftist leaders to quickly agree on forming a new coalition, the New Popular Front.

Their joint platform promises to raise the minimum salary from 1,400 to 1,600 euros ($1,515 to $1,735), to pull back Macron’s pension reform that increased the retirement age from 62 to 64 and to freeze prices of essential food products and energy. All that has financial markets worried.

That is labeled as a “Win” for Macron if you are watching the British version of Whoopie’s View.

Tactical Outcome

Eurointelligence comments on the Tactical Outcome in both France and the UK.

France’s RN and the Labour Party had approximately similar vote shares in the recent parliamentary elections around one third. The difference, of course, is that Labour won with a massive majority whereas the RN did not. The difference is not so much due to voting systems as such. Both are versions of winner-takes-all voting systems. The main difference is tactical voting. Never before have we seen tactical voting playing such a decisive role.

Even the normally reliable French polls got this wrong. The UK polls were hopeless. Labour’s share of the votes was really very low, outside of all polling error margins. The data are telling us that Labour was after all not assured of victory as people had anticipated.

The Labour victory, and certainly its scale, is to a large extent due to the entry of Nigel Farage, which fatally split the votes of the right. Had Farage and the Conservatives instead formed a strategic alliance, with Farage’s Reform contesting the strong pro-Brexit constituencies, and the Conservatives the erst of the country, the outcome would have been very different. We have yet to see the numbers, but our best guess would be a hung parliament, with a Labour/LibDem coalition.

In the long run, tactical voting increases volatility, but not political outcomes. In France, the centre and the left cannot sustainably collude to keep the right from power. They will now have to govern together. If they fail, the ire of centrists and moderate conservatives, and possibly even moderate Socialists, would turn against the Left, just as the voters of the hard left might see the centre, not the right, as its main opponent.

If you take a sufficiently long-term view, these fluctuations even out. Electoral systems matter, but as we saw in the UK and the US, they don’t keep extremes away. In France or Germany, they don’t either.

Uncharted Territory

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