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Since I'm French, let me keep you informed of what's happening in my country. Next Saturday, France will have the final result of the presidential election. Since the end of the first round (April 23rd) this result is already known: the next president of France will be Emmanuel Macron. Of course, when I write these lines, he's still competing against Marine Le Pen, but she has absolutely no chance of being elected. Although she's popular in a part of the French, she (and her party) is still extremely unpopular for the vast majority of French. She will not be elected because of what is called in France the "glass ceiling", which means that she can never exceed a certain level in public opinion. What happened in the first round? The current president, Francois Hollande, is extremely unpopular and didn't have the capacity to present himself again. So, in the first round, there were 5 important candidates (the other 6 are insignificant): François Fillon (The party "The Républicains", the main party of the right in France, the party of Nicolas Sarkozy, who was president between 2007 and 2012. Fillon was prime minister throughout this period. Emmanuel Macron (who was Minister of Economy under President François Hollande, but who launched his political movement since one year only.) Marine Le Pen (The party "National Front", the party considered as extreme right, nationalist.) Jean-Luc Mélenchon (His movement is called "Unsubmitted France", radical left, ideas close to Communism and Marxism.) Benoît Hamon (Socialist party, party of President François Hollande, main party left in France for 40 years.) The result of the first round was as follows: Emmanuel Macron 24% Marine Le Pen 21.3% François Fillon 20% Jean-Luc Mélenchon 19.6% Benoît Hamon 6.4% This is the first time in a French presidential election that none of the main left-wing (Socialist Party) and right-wing (The Republicans) parties are absent from the second round. A brief comment on what happened: Benoît Hamon represented the Socialist Party, the party of the current president, François Hollande. Even if he was part of a faction of this party that was critical of the President, he could not change the fact that he represented a party that had become extremely unpopular, since Francois Hollande was extremely unpopular. More than its predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy (who was also very unpopular). So the score of the Socialist Party is historically low. It was never so low since the 60's. Jean-Luc Mélenchon has almost doubled his score since the last election (2012). He withdrew the red flags and flags of the Soviet Union in his meetings to replace them with French flags, and he sings "La marseillaise" instead of "L'internationale". He was the most popular candidate for young people (18-24), because formally, he made a very modern campaign (despite his archaic ideas): he made a Youtube channel, he used the Social networks, meetings in holograms, his militants even made a videogame on him ("Fiscal Kombat"). Between Macron and Le Pen, he did not give his opinion for the second round, because for him Macron represents capitalism, and Le Pen represents fascism ... (In my personnal view, he is the archetypal dictator. He is an admirer of Chavez & Castro...) François Fillon was destined to win this election. But during the campaign, he was accused of fictitious employment (i.e. misappropriation of public money) for a situation dating back several years ago. This accusation has never been proved, but the presumption of innocence was not sufficient for public opinion to not considered him as guilty and corrupted. Especially since before that, Fillon said that if he was suspected of something, he would not be candidate. Some believe that these accusations have been secretly modeled by the current power in order to make the rival party losing (There are disturbing indications.). Anyway, these accusations made him considerably lower in public opinion, and prevented him from entering the second round. Politically, this was the first time that a major French presidential candidate said he wanted to significantly reduce the size of the state, reduce taxes, reduce regulations and take care of the public debt. It was also the first time I heard a french politician defending liberty (by using this word) in this kind of election. His speech with regard to Islamist terrorism (which he calls "Islamist totalitarianism") was without concession. Who are Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen? Politically Emmanuel Macron is center-left. He is supported by people from right, left and center. He governed as minister under the presidency of François Hollande (Socialist Party) but he was always perceived as different, iconoclastic. He is young (39 years old), doesn't have a political background, he had never be elected, he worked as a business banker at Rotschild. He studied philosophy (his thesis was about Hegel). He is in favor of globalization. His popularity in France comes from the fact that it embodies the image of a change, a renewal because: - He has a different style from most policies and he's young, he has an image of modernity. - He doesn't have a political career (except as minister during 2 years), he does not come from the traditional parties, he comes from the private sector. - He was still unknown 2 or 3 years ago. - He has the image of someone very smart, who knows his files, especially in economy. For the extreme left and far right, he represents capitalism, i.e. the evil. Actually it's true that when he was minister, his speech and his actions seemed "pro-capitalist" especially for a left-wing man. He's in favor of free trade, globalization, private sector... But since the campaign began, he wanted to show that he wasn't so capitalist, by multiplying social measures, protections, etc ... which makes him a centrist. Or a "pragmatist". Or a "moderate". Someone who want to "reconciliate", mix the hot and the cold, who is agree with everyone. He wants to be pro-capitalist and pro-protection in the same time. Marine Le Pen (who was the most popular candidate among the workers) is far-right and her economic program is clearly socialist and protectionist. The two main ideas of his party (the National Front) have always been the same since his father created the party in the 70s: "Fight against immigration and insecurity". Its aim is to "re-establish borders", to regain the sovereignty of the country, to fight against "globalized finance", "ultra-capitalism" and, of course, her speech against Islamism is radical. Never has his party and its ideology been so popular in France. But despite this, for many people, Marine Le Pen (and her party) is considered racist and xenophobic. Many also consider it fascist. She will lose the election, there is no suspense about it. If you have questions, it will be a pleasure for me to answer to you about this elections.
So it seems the People's State of France has started it march done the intelectual oblivion: http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2012/10/should-canada-follow-frances-lead-and-ditch-homework.html I posted this particular editorial for more than just the news itself but also the what is being said in this story as well as which news agency it came from. First of on the proposed education reform first. When I first heard about Hollande's education reform plans I had no words. In fact it took me a whole day to even try to comprehend how this can happen. I am not going to present the merits of homework here. I would hope that in an O'ist forum it should be fairly self evident (though I will if someone wishes to question it). My problem is with the reasoning. So essentially because some parents do not see fit to help their kids with structured homework activities they are somehow at blame for the failure of the other kids? How is not giving students homework is going to help those kids that are already falling behind? Ah I see now. Somehow educating other people's kids is my responsibility, and apperently society is only as strong as its weakest link. Just the simple reasoning here should give people alarm. Not only I am already taxed to pay for other kids education from all day kindergarden with fully qualified Early Childhood Education specialists (I live in Ontario, Canada), all the way through university (2/3 of the tuition fees in Ontario are subsidized by the government, and a large proprtion of students is on some sort of government assistance or 0% interest loans). But should this type of thinking come to Canada I am also somehow reponsible for other the success of other people's children. I guess the people of France have already gave up their personal property rights. Hopefully in Canada we have a little bit more brains left. What this article also doesn't mention is also some of the other reform points which are not that much easier to swollow: Increasing the number of teachers (which goes along with his idea of a longer school day) - If you cannot justify paying teachers more money, lets invent reasons. I'm sure that will solve it. I wonder how teachers feel about having to work longer days and teach what they used to have kids to themselves. This is a move that is probably supported by the Teacher's Unions but probably hated by many teachers, especially the talented ones Reducing the number of students held back each year - If the kids are to dumb to pass a class, lets just lower the bar. God forbid we hurt their little feelings. Ontario sort of did this by setting a goal to increase pass rates. The result was that the goal was met through lower standards as indepant standardized testing scores continued to decline while more students were passing Incentives for teachers to work in low-income areas - I have no opinions for either or, don't think it is the right way to raise kid's scores in low income areas The other problem I had with this particular article was the rest of the reasoning brought forth, by the so called 'experts' Yes it is homework that makes kids depressed, cause ADD/ADHD and breaks up families. That's right we solved it, homework. It's like I'm reading some horrible charater in one of Rand's novels. I don't even want to justify this with a reasonable argument why this is bad. Yep, there is that typical Progressive school thinking. Kids must socialize rather than study. I mean you will use picnic benches a lot in your life, but hey who ever used time-tables for anything practical, right. This tyes this to my third point. This article comes from the CBC, Canada's version of the PBS. Which is running costing the government over a billion dollars a year. CBC is not most left wing newspaper in Canada (take a look at Toronto Star). But it is still paid by my taxes and my hard work. And yet when Harper even raised the idea of getting rid of the CBC people were protesting and saying portraying him as some evil Dictator trying to control the media and destroy the public sector. Notice this article is isn't even a regular news article but a some kind of Community Blog, which somehow made its way onto the World headlines section. You guys think you have it bad in US with Obama trying to legistlate public health care, try coming to Canada for a few months, you will be thankful Obama is the worst of your trouble. Canada's official opposition (i.e. the second biggest party in parliament) is composed of socialists, communists, anarchists, and fundemental islamists (all quite open about it as well). And even though our current party holds a majority mandate, they are spending as if they are US Democrats (though they are doing some things right on international free trade front and foreign policy).