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

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul10,2024 #finance

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.

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

On July 7, I commented France Is in Uncharted Territory, Expect a Big Political Catfight

The French Far Left says it is ready to govern. Halleluiah? A catfight is coming up, advantage National Rally.

There Is No Magic Solution

There is no magic solution and that was evident immediately from the preliminary results, at least to anyone who can do simple math.

Despite the obvious math problem, perhaps some coalition government compromise forms out of this mess. Just don’t expect it to be stable.

The center cannot hold, yet it rules out forming a coalition with either the Left or Right.

It would be very smart of National Rally to stay out of the fight until the next presidential election in 2027.

Macron will regret these snap elections. He is the big loser in this.

The ultimate winner in this election will be the party that can stay as far away from the Center/Left catfight as possible.

National Rally is only party that has a chance to stay out of the mess, and that is what I expect them to do.

The UK Message

If you thought the UK message was extreme shift to the Left, you got the wrong message.

The message from the UK is people are fed up with Conservatives lack of leadership on virtually everything, not that a majority is suddenly clamoring for socialism.

Farage was willing to have a scorched earth election than govern with Conservatives. He seems pleased with that result. Halleluiah?

One reason behind the shift to Labour and Nigel Farage’s party is lack of any progress by Conservatives on immigration.

Labour is anti-immigration, unlike the far Left in France.

The Message from France

The message from France is the center has totally blown out. Radicals on the Left and Right are now a combined majority (with no hope of governing).

This has never happened before.

If you thought Macron won or Le Pen was the big loser, you got the wrong message.

The Left in France wants unlimited immigration, price controls, and a reduced retirement age. Good luck with your budget to say the least.

To repeat: The ultimate winner in the French election will be the party that can stay as far away from the Center/Left catfight as possible.

National Rally is the only party that has a chance to stay out of the mess, and that is what I expect them to do.

What About NATO?

Nothing changed. Defense is a presidential responsibility in France. Day-to-day domestic legislation is the responsibility of the Prime Minister.

Le Pen is anti-NATO and now has 142 seats up from 89 and up from 2 prior to that. But as noted this is not a Prime Minister’s duty anyway.

This is what some say is a win for Macron, a victory for NATO, and a defeat of Le Pen.

If RN can avoid blame for the pending fiscal debacle that’s nearly certain, Le Pen is much better poised to win the next French presidential election. She will learn from this.

Lesson for the US

The lesson for the US is Trump is not assured of a victory.

But also, it’s a mistake for US Progressives to focus too much on specific messages from the UK and France that do not apply here.

We do not have much tactical voting in the US. What tactical voting might happen relates to the idea “I cannot stand either of them”.

US Undecided and Third Party

As it stands, one recent post-debate poll shows Kennedy at 8.2 percent with undecided voters another 7.9 percent.

Double digits are possible for Kennedy with big potential ramifications down ticket for the Democrats.

For poll discussion, please see Post-Debate USA Today-Suffolk Poll Has Grim News for President Biden

I created some charts from a new post-debate poll that shows Biden is weakening fast. I also tie in the latest economic data.

Little Things Can Matter Big

France had record turnout. The US may have record low turnout

Let’s hypothesize for a moment that Biden stays in (not my take), and his polls crash. What do voters do?

Perhaps we see double digit numbers for Trump and a red wave if voters decide to “send a message” and vote for Kennedy (or not vote at all).

It’s possible abortion matters. Foot-in-mouth disease by Trump may also matter.

Really Big Things

No one knows what will happen, especially if Biden drops out. That’s a major thing, not a little one.

Biden dropping out is my base case. So, however remote, please think of this possibility: A Harris-Kennedy ticket.

We do not know now how voters would react. If you think that ticket is impossible, then pick another Harris-X ticket that Trump might struggle with.

How Should Trump React?

The lesson for Trump is that he needs to be prepared for anything.

The worst choice for Trump would be to pick from the group of old white MAGA men, MAGA men in general, and staunch anti-abortion advocates like Senator Scott.

Everyone of Trump’s now presumed short list in that group expect perhaps Marco Rubio, but Rubio is far from ideal.

For discussion, please see Marco Rubio Suddenly Emerges on Trump’s Short VP List, Why?

Tulsi Gabbard Rings All Six Bells

Tusli is a womanyoung, an amazing speakernot MAGA, a person of color, and a moderate on abortion. She’s also attractive which may matter to a lot of men.

She rings six of six bells.

I believe Trump would win in a landslide if he picked Gabbard. The base would not like that pick, but so what? Is Trump seeking adulation or does he want to win?

I seriously don’t know.

Scott ticks precisely one bell. He’s black, Otherwise, Scott is all negative. I would be surprised if Trump was foolish enough to pick Scott.

I fail to see what Vance brings to the table. Perhaps I am missing something, but Vance is a negative for at least 5 reasons.

Anything Can Happen

To handle the most cases, it would behoove Trump to pick a VP candidate not that the core wants, but that moderates, women, and independents can rally around.

How Long Can This Go On?

That’s an amazing burst of energy, is it not? Is there any reason to believe such remarkable energy cannot last for for another four months?

The Senate Joins In

My Base Case Remains: Biden Drops Out

For discussion, please see How Long Before Biden Drops Out or Is Forced Out of the Election?

It’s fair to disagree. After all, Biden says he is staying in.

On the other hand … Forgive me for asking, but how much faith are you willing to put in a senile liar capable of saying anything?

So, no matter what odds you place, they are not zero. Nor are they under 25 percent. Trump needs to counter any hypothetical ticket democrats can offer.

That means a woman, younger, abortion-moderate, and likable. Will Trump do that?

I highly doubt it. Few get the message. Fewer still are willing to act on the message. This election isn’t over, especially if Biden drops out as I expect.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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