News & Politics

Robert Reich: With Macron's Election, France Dodged a Fascist Bullet

But the fact that racist nationalist Le Pen got a third of the vote is cause for future worry.

Photo Credit: Screen Capture / Inequality Media, YouTube

Emmanuel Macron is the next president of France, defeating his far right rival Marine Le Pen by a comfortable 65.1% to 34.9% (according to a usually reliable vote estimate by pollsters Ispos/Sopra Steria for French state TV and radio and Le Monde). At 39, Macron will become France’s youngest president. He has never held elected office, and just over a year ago his political movement En Marche! did not even exist.

Still, the fact that racist nationalist Le Pen could summon more than a third of the French vote is cause for worry about the future. Xenophobia toward Muslims has played a part. More responsible are widening inequality and mounting job insecurity – coupled with a growing sense that the political-economy is rigged in favor or the privileged and out of touch with average working people.

The French haven’t suffered the same degree of economic stresses as have Americans in recent decades – France’s social safety net is still relatively intact – which may explain why they didn’t elect Le Pen while we elected Trump. But France, like most modern political economic systems, is heading in America’s direction under the guise of business “flexibility” and austerity economics.

My humble advice to Macron: Don’t follow America.

Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is www.robertreich.org.

 

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