Cette semaine en politique - Politics Across the Francophone Countries
August 19, 2019
Icholasen is going to the polls! Well, not all of Icholasen. Romain is heading to the polls following the call for a by-election for this dominion. Kate Germain has moved from the Party of June, the radical centrist movement that swept into government, to the NAP, the main centre-right party of Icholasen. Now can she retain that seat for the NAP or will the Party of June be victorious? Will this show larger signs for Icholasen's national government? Joining me, François Picard, is the chief political correspondent for the Télévisions Gaulois group and host of Politics Tonight on Le Trois, Agnes Poirier...political correspondent from Icholasen and Europe expert Jeanne Vartan...and a special guest, Nicolezian Treasury Minister and Senator for Romain, Henri Dupont.
Picard: Thank you for joining me tonight. Let's get started! All questions are open for anyone to take. What does the by-election mean generally for Icholasen? Which house is it for and what does that house do?
Jeanne Vartan: This is a huge election, absolutely massive. For Icholasen generally, it represents a potential turning-point in the three sided battle between the Socialists and the NAP - the only parties in government after the fall of communism in 1990 and before the 2015 election - and the Party of June running on a troisième voie platform did very well post-2015. If the result is a decisive NAP victory, we could see a return to two party politics between the Party of June and the NAP. Time will tell whether the Party of June project will even last, or fizzle out. But, the NAP hasn’t capitalised on the Party of June’s move to the left by moving to closer to the centre by even a little bit. So people who might have gone for the NAP if they filled the POJ’s political void, will simply not vote for them. Electorally, this election will elect representatives for the Saint Romain assembly, for Saint Romain’s seat in the Nonet and its seats in the Senate as well. Something to note as well is that the Senators of all Dominions in Icholasen shadow a Dominion assembly member 1 to 1. These people engage with each other to facilitate dialogue between the central parliament and Dominion assemblies, to make sure that devolved and central issues are still linked.
Agnes Poirier: Yes, so ultimately the Nonet appears to be the house of the Dominions and the Senate the national lower house. I’ve been covering Francophone politics for a year now and I’m still trying to keep it together with the Nicolezian system. It’s similar to the idea that the Gaulois Chamber of Peers reflecting lords from across the country.
Picard: Oui, now what triggered the by-election?
Henri Dupont: This by-election was triggered because the Saint Romain assembly voted for it after Kate Germain resigned from the Party of June and also as Foreign Minister and asked for this. I’m still baffled as to why she did this, it’s clear that she never had any loyalty to her party or her post. I’m just shocked honestly that this is even happening. She was in a great position to talk to Eilidh and to state her case to us in the cabinet. I served as housing minister in the cabinet that Germain left, and I thought that our cabinet took into account everyone’s views.
Vartan: I think what triggered this in a less literal sense is the fracturing of the broad coalition of centrists that is the Party of June. And really, that’s what the Party of June is: a coalition. You will disagree with me I’m sure Monsieur Dupont but I believe that that is what the Party of June boils down to.
Poirier: I agree. I’ve observed the Party of June and it’s a rather diverse coalition of radical centrism that could yield powerful electoral results, but honestly could also lose steam and lose some people. They were always going to have to try and keep that broad coalition. Kate Germain is a more centre-right leaning person but in a radical centrist party, you borrow from both sides. It’s like the political movement that the Liberals are trying to inspire in Gallorum with Emmannuel Macron. If it catches fire, then it’s very dangerous but at some point the party will have to make a move left or right, and that is where Kate Germain felt she could not be there anymore.
Dupont: I don’t agree with all of that, but I don’t think us being a broad-church is a bad thing. I think that we provide a political home to Nicoleizians who wouldn’t have had that in the two-party system of before.
Picard: Is this seen as a referendum on the previous occupant of the seat or of the government as a whole?
Vartan: Nonet members often try and get policies passed to benefit their constituency, and Germain was no exception. She pushed for infrastructure here in Saint Romain, and made it a policy of the central government to give funding specifically for private-ran public transport initiatives in all 9 Dominions in 2017. By extension of course, this applied to Saint Romain. The Saint Romain assembly allocated this money into a new tram network that would be then run by a company here in Saint Romain rather than the Dominion government. The first line has been completed and the 2nd and 3rd are on their way. People here are generally happy with this new tramway and many people credit her for its creation and are quite grateful. She’s popular in Saint Romain for that reason primarily. It’s also a referendum on the performance of the government absolutely and whether people support this move to the left - which I personally believe is being sensationalised. It’s not that big a move.
Dupont: I think there’s definitely a huge mix of issues at play here as it is electing both members on the Dominion assembly and to the central government’s representative bodies. I think the Party of June are the best choice for both of these.
Poirier: I think that it largely seems to be a competition between a very popular incumbent regionally and a very popular government nationally. Even though the POJ are letting the local issues take centre stage, I am confident that Whiteford is watching and waiting. Her premiership really begins its re-election here.
Picard: Trends have shown that the Party of June is shifting from centre ground. Where will that leave the other parties?
Vartan: As the Party of June moves to the left, parties such as the Parti Romain and the Socialist party will lose some voters to the Party of June, however polling has shown this is not as big a number as those leaving the Party of June in Saint Romain to go towards the NAP. This is of course not only down to this left-ward swing, but it is slightly concerning. If this happens nationwide at the next election, the Party of June won’t maintain it’s fragile majority.
Dupont: I think that this small left-ward move will not dissatisfy most of our core voters and I think we can only gain on a national level by taking votes from the LDS and the Socialists. Of course I recognise that in Saint Romain the situation is less ideal, but that is because, admittedly, Germain is very popular. But I think the Party of June facilitated her projects in Saint Romain, if she is a Nonet member for the NAP, she won’t be in talks with the executive and won’t be able to get anything else like the Saint Romain city tramway passed again.
Poirier: I don’t know. The appeal of the Party of June is the large tent that it is. Moves will always alienate some. They have to do more convincing that this is where the centre is. That’s the beautiful thing about politics is that no matter what politics you have...NAP, POJ, LDS, Socialists….you are convincing the electorate that the policies you have are sensible and meet the centre ground of the electorate. In essence, you create your own centre. That’s what I think the POJ is losing by being so hands off from the top down.
Picard: Oh, that is true...Premier Whiteford is one of the more popular figures in Europe. Had this made her and the POJ an easier target for this election or has it stayed largely around local issues?
Vartan: Yes and no. I think in this particular election the Nonet candidates have been much more influential than Whiteford has been, or any national party leader for that matter. The Nonet member represents the region almost how a governor would. That means a lot of importance is placed on them as they represent the values of the Dominion on the national level and maybe even on the international level.
Poirier: I’m pretty confident that this will have national implications even if Whiteford stays out of it. If she wins, she’ll use it to power her re-election. If she loses, her opponents will jump on her as vulnerable. I’m sure Kate Germain didn’t intend to wound Whiteford, or maybe she did.
Dupont: Whiteford is one of the big political personalities of our age, that might mean you love her or not like her at all. But Whiteford has always had a hands-off approach our union of Dominions, so she’s letting the people who will actually be elected in Saint Romain do most of the campaigning. I suspect she’ll go down during the campaign, but she’s intentionally not getting to heavy handed.
Picard: One more question, a little more focused on our two nations...Gallorum traditionally has fallen more on the centre right side of politics but recently elected a centre left government. Does this result shows us that the Francophone alliances are trending left in the future or could a Gaullist like Martha Kensington or François Fillon make a strong comeback?
Vartan: Martha Kensington the current leader of the NAP is honestly poised to be a Royal Premier within the decade, if not her, her successor. I think the country has moved to the right and the NAP and the POJ will become the principal rivals in Nicoleizian politics. I’m not sure if we are truly trending towards the left, I mean Eilidh Whiteford’s POJ isn’t as far-left as other parties in the Senate. I think Gallorum and Icholasen will be similar but fundamentally different forever. I think it’s hard to draw trend-lines between us, despite our linguistic ties.
Dupont: I think it’s a happy coincidence that we both have centre-left governments at the same time. It won’t last forever, but I’m glad that we’re both on the same page for now!
Poirier: Heading into 2020, Les Travaillistes are going to move ahead strong as long as they continue to do what they are doing. I don’t know if the esteemed guests are into the Gaulois politics, but the battle between Baschet and Fillon is proving a losing proposition for Fillon. He is going to have to get off of the popularity contest and instead work on policy. The thing that the Travaillistes have in Baschet is a leader who can reach the average Gaulois and speak to the values of the nation and intertwine them with social democratic policies. That does remind me of Whiteford and how she continues to put the centre ground as being Nicolezian intrinsically.
Picard: Thank you so much everyone. That's all we have time for today! Tune in next time as we look at the two electoral systems and how they have changed our nations. I'm François Picard, jusqu'à la semaine prochaine.
October 27, 2019 - 2019 Gaulois general election special
Poirier: Hello I am Agnes Poirier chairing this episode of Cette semaine en politique, your guide to politics across the Francophone countries. We have a snap general election special for you as Prime Minister Elisabeth Baschet went to Queen Margrethe to ask for a general election about seven months ahead of schedule. Who will make it to the Hotel Matignon and lead the Kingdom? Here with us are a panel of Gaulois experts: Francois Picard, Marie d'Artest and Green Party Deputy from Escolives-Est Yves Cochet. Welcome everyone!
Poirier: Okay, first question up...how did we get here? How did Gallorum get a general election in November?
Picard: Well, the Prime Minister (Elisabeth Baschet), went to the Queen to ask for an early election partly because Fillon had been messing up in the polls and partly because the Government has run out of an agenda in a way. She's got a strong economic message but socially, the Government has not changed that much from the last election. But that has caused people to appreciate the Travailliste Government as they have not governed in the radical social democratic manner that many thought they would with their election in 2016. Among supporters, Baschet could be seen as a slight disappointment and many seem to nickname her Elisabeth Macron as she has governed much more to the centre economically and socially as the Liberal Party leader Emmanuel Macron suggested he would.
Poirier: Okay, so not a 100% gain for Baschet really. She had to really weigh the options.
Picard: Yes, Ms. Baschet had to really stop and look around at the party support and the political landscape and while a 40-32 lead in the polls most of the time indicates a high chance of forming government, the MMP system is quite funny in the sense that anything less than an 8-10% lead in the polls could suggest a minority government or the need to build coalitions and the latest polling as shown that the PSDT are on 38%, the Gallons are on 33%, the Liberals on 17%, the Verts on 7%, and the Nationalists on 5%. That means Baschet could squeak out a majority if everything goes exactly how she wants and she gains those percentages in places she isn't already popular. If she ends up scoring less of the constituency votes then she'll have to look elsewhere.
Poirier: Now, I'm from Icholasen so forgive me if I ask a very basic question, getting us away from the numbers here but...who are the major parties and what are they like? Marie, jump in here!
d'Artest: The incumbent of the major three political parties are the Parti Social Democratie et Travailliste, also known as Les Travaillistes. This is a social democratic party that is grounded in the labour movement in Gallorum. As time has gone on, they've become more viable but the Red Scare of the 1990's made it difficult for them to win elections until they adopted Third Way economic policies. The second is the Christian Democratic Party, the PDC, know as Les Gallons. They've been essentially a party of government for the better part of 100 years. Their roots go back to the Traditionalists in the first Gaulois parliament. They stand on what is deemed to be moderate conservatism influenced by the Gallic Orthodox Church. As of now, that means economic conservatism and socially Christian conservatism. They have had many great Prime Ministers like Jacques Chirac and Charles de Gaulle and they get their name Les Gallons from the fact that they are a party that exudes the belief of Gallic exceptionalism, that we are a special nation and deserve to conduct foreign policy as such. The third is the Parti Liberal, a party that has had mixed results but consistently place third in the parliament. Led currently by Emmanuel Macron, the Liberals have had a hard time gaining some votes they've lost to the Travaillistes as they were the original proponents of the Third Way economics in Gallorum. Now they are have had to move economically even more towards the centre, and the party generally represents a technocratic radical centrism. Let's get the best information, the most facts, and make decisions rationally and orderly while putting an emphasis on social justice and equality.
Poirier: Interesting! How about the parties stances on a spectrum, perhaps left and right?
d'Artest: Generally speaking, Les Travaillistes are the largest party of the left, Les Gallons the party of the right, and Les Liberals in the centre. However the Green Party has been pushing on the left and chomping on the heels of the Travaillistes and the Front National led by Marine Le Pen is growing in popularity among the right-wing support of the Gallons. The most socially liberal party are Les Verts, followed by the Liberals. Les Travaillistes have an interesting coalition of traditional labourers and suburban social democrats, so their party tends to trend socially centrist most often, epitomised by Baschet's lack of social progressive policy as she comes from the traditional labourer section of the party. The Christian Democrats range from moderate to solid social conservative and the Front are perhaps the most hardline conservatives, calling for bans of migration and the immediate withdrawal from European institutions that promote progressive values.
Poirier: And their leaders?
d'Artest: Leading the Les Travaillistes is current Prime Minister Elisabeth Baschet, Les Gallons are led by Francois Fillon, Les Verts are led by Dominique Voynet, the Liberals by Macron and the Nationalistes by Le Pen. There's a lot more flux at the local level where smaller parties have greater access to the possibility of seats, as to get representation in the Parliament with our MMP system, a party needs to have either 5% support nationally or won 5 of the first past the post seats.
Poirier: Yes, I see now. So this is an election of personalities it seems! These party leaders have the ability to cash in on popularity in terms of the 101 party list seats, which in reality is 100 + the Speaker of the lower house. Interesting. So how have the personalities influenced this election?
Picard: This is a rare election cycle where everyone is very passionate and can communicate fairly well. Fillon has been trying to hammer away at Baschet as corrupt, but as much mud as he's trying to fling, it doesn't stick. Le Pen has a message that perhaps the voters have no real option between the two major parties, as both are leaning towards free trade economics. Voynet has said the Government has not done enough to combat the impending climate emergency and while she welcomed Inquista's deal that has forced Gallorum to work on its environmental standards, the Kingdom must do more. Macron has simply said that if the people want to be pro-European and unapologetically open for business economically, socially and politically that his party will do the best job. All five are pretty effective communicators and their bases are getting fired up, which could prove problematic for Baschet. She is popular and the Government is fairly popular but trends on social media are showing that people are viewing her as an opportunist and no different from other politicians in a time when the people are changing their preference from a political operator to someone who comes from outside the Bloc du Parlement, the complex that houses the Parliament and government buildings in Aurelis.
Poirier: Okay, that will conclude the first half of our programme. Tune in for the second half where we interview Yves Cochet and get more in depth with the election at hand.