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.