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Month: May 2017

From wannabe to president: how Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen to win the French election

Written by Paul Smith.

After a tense and often antagonistic election campaign, Emmanuel Macron is to become the next president of France. The result is, of course, in all sorts of ways extraordinary. In a little over a year, the 39-year-old former finance minister has gone from being a wannabe to the future tenant of the Elysée Palace. He struck out alone to form his own political movement and while much of the froth surrounding the election has focused on his opponent, the enormity of his achievement needs to be acknowledged and cannot be underestimated.

Even before the first round, all the polls had Macron pegged to win the second round 60/40. But then, between the rounds, Le Pen seemed to be nibbling away at Macron’s lead – not by much, but by enough to cause some butterflies among her opponents. Macron appeared lacklustre at a crucial time. Fears of a low turnout and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s refusal to formally endorse Macron also threw a number of unknowns into the mix.

What’s Left of the Left?

Written by Simon Toubeau. 

The paradox of the contemporary European left is that while many of the burning issues defining political debates- growing economic inequality, employment precariousness, the sustainability of health spending or pension entitlements- are traditional left-wing concerns, Social Democratic parties seem incapable of credibly addressing them either in office or in opposition.

So, what’s left of the left? The origins of the paradox stems from the mis-match in the architecture of authority between democracy and capitalism, rendering the notion of democratic capitalism ever more hollow. This tension has compounded broader demographic and economic transformations to divide the electoral base of the left. In France, the UK, the USA and elsewhere- there is a split between those in favour of regulated openness and those in favour of nationalist closure.

New Labour 20 years on: assessing the legacy of the Tony Blair years

Written by Steven Fielding.

On the 20th anniversary of one of Labour’s greatest victories, party members are, to say the least, conflicted about the governments made possible by the election held on May 1 1997. The virtues of Labour’s longest uninterrupted period in office, based on an unprecedented three back-to-back victories (two of which produced its biggest ever House of Commons majorities) are not exactly being shouted from the rooftops.

For Jeremy Corbyn, 1997 is the stuff of nightmares: and those members who re-elected him leader in 2016 clearly agree. To them, the election is a morality tale, a political version of the Faustian legend. It represents the moment Tony Blair sold Labour’s socialist soul for the sake of a few votes. “Blairite”, to them, is a term of abuse, and Corbyn the ultimate anti-Blairite – a figure who remained true to his principles during the dark days of New Labour.