Ominous signs in France
By Craig Young
3rd February 2017 - 12:02 pm
Like New Zealand, France also has its national elections in 2017. According to the Economist, the news is not good for the incumbent Socialist centre-left government- and what about the gay-hating neofascist French National Front?
isn't because Socialist presidential candidate Manuel Valles, who has
replaced the unpopular Francois Hollande, is lacking in political
pragmatism or is an ineffective communicator. His home electorate, Evry,
applauds him for getting more surveillance cameras installed, excellent
ethnic relations and urban beautification. He is disadvantaged by the
fact that he is a member of an unpopular incumbent government and facing
an insurgent challenge from Francois Fillion, a popular UMP
(centre-right) presidential rival, as well as from factions within his
own Socialist Party.
Valles' political preferences are comparable to
those of Tony Blair across the English Channel, however, and wants to
weaken trade union influence within his party, as well as crack down on
issues of national security and integration into French society. He is
trying to leaven this through support for France's comprehensive welfare
state and creating more public sector employment. However, he faced a
strong challenge from rivals within his own caucus, namely former
Industry Minister Arnaud Monteburg and Beniot Haemon, advocate of a
universal basic income.
As matters turned out, Haemon beat Valles in
primary polling. He was formerly a Member of the European Parliament and
has also served as minister for social services and education during
the current Socialist Hollande administration. He supports a thirty-five
hour working week, the introduction of cannabis and euthanasia
decriminalisation, and wants an emphasis on renewable energy. Whether
his selection can turn the tide for the Socialist Party is a matter of
unfortunately, Marine Le Pen and her National Front associates are
fuelling Socialist Party divisions, exploiting left fissures over
globalisation and internationalism, while the centre-right's candidate
Francois Fillion may exploit French rural and provincial social
conservatism over issues such as marriage equality and the recent
abolition of the "right" to parental corporal punishment.
Fortunately, although Le Pen is currently leading the French presidential opinion polls, there is the small matter of the pacte republicaine-
the cross-party tactical alliance of voters who will vote across party
lines to support the non-neofascist candidate if she or he looks as if
they might ever get near the presidency. Le Pen has spun herself and her
National Front as a "post-fascist" party, supposedly cleansed of its
stygian past praise of Vichy France's Nazi collaboration or Holocaust
trivialisation at the hands of her blundering father, unreconstructed
fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen.
In which case, asked the British Independent's Namila
Rabdani (14.01.2017), why is it that she is going to borrow six million
euro from one of her father's companies to fund her presidential
campaign? Unlike UKIP, but more like One Nation in Australia, the French
National Front derives its strength from rural and provincial county
councils, which means little in a highly centralised unitary state like
modern France (and New Zealand as well, for that matter). The French
National Front is also facing a finance scandal which could undo Le
Pen's presidential aspirations and France's preferential voting
unproportional electoral system may do the rest.
for the third presidential candidate, the UMR's Francois Fillion, he
has been compared to Margaret Thatcher- as he is a social conservative
and a neoliberal in terms of his policy prescriptions, which involve
raising the retirement age, preventing overtime payments to French
workers, slash 500,000 jobs from the French public sector, slash
government spending by 110 million Euros and increase France's Value
Added Tax to 22 percent of goods and services.
In foreign policy terms,
he is staunchly independent and desires closer relations with Russia,
which has not been the case under the Socialist Hollande administration.
Unfortunately for French LGBT communities, Fillion also opposes
adoption rights for same-sex couples, granted under the aegis of
marriage equality in 2013. Recently, his campaign has run into
difficulties after the disclosure of a large donation of money to his
of which leads one to the question of LGBT rights in France, three
years after the passage of its own marriage equality legislation at
roughly the same time as New Zealand and the United Kingdom did so. What
are the outstanding areas? French lesbians and bisexual women do not
have access to assisted reproductive technology for purposes of starting
their own families, unlike New Zealand, where this has been the case
since 1994, given the Human Rights Act 1993 applies to service
provision, including assisted fertility services. Gay men do not have
access to commercial surrogacy either, although that prohibition extends
to all other French citizens.
Consequently, unlike provisions within
New Zealand's Care of Children Act 2004, there are no provisions for the
partners of French lesbian and gay biological parents to be recognised
as joint parents within the context of assisted reproductive technology.
Many French lesbians and bisexual women travel to neighbouring Belgium,
where legislative equality is the norm for assisted reproductive
technology and there are no such barriers. As for gender identity
discrimination, it has been illegal under French antidiscrimination
legislation since 2012.
Britain and the United States last year, France may be entering a
period of instability and political animosity. One hopes not.
Wikipedia/LGBT rights in France: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_France
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