From the English pendulum to the French Rubik's cube

Beatrice E. Rangel

By: Beatrice E. Rangel - 08/07/2024

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The most recent European electoral processes have taken place in the United Kingdom and France. In both cases the announced results should be ominous for governments. And this verdict proved to be accurate for the English Tories but not so for Macron.

In England the electorate suspended the Tories for very specific and measurable reasons. Inflation, the evident deterioration of public services, illegal immigration influxes and the absence of job creation in the middle of the occupational pyramid accompanied by a lack of labor at the base. And above all: the fiscal deficit, a notion abhorred by the British for many centuries. And to the extent that these problems are attributable to Brexit and the excesses of Boris Johnson, the British electorate chose to vote for a reconstituted Labor party that offers, among other things, fiscal discipline. And as if to reinforce the message of the need to return to fiscal and political discipline, the electorate granted important recognition to the Reform Party, which positioned itself as the third political force, displacing the Liberal Democrats from that position. In short, the democratic pendulum swung towards a centrist position that offers greater confidence to the people in terms of preserving democracy because it prevents a force from imposing itself while forcing dialogue and negotiation to achieve governance.

In France, on the other hand, the second round of elections has created a governance dilemma that only Emmanuel Macron will be able to handle. In essence, the National Assembly has been divided into three factions of similar size with the New Popular Front owning 180 seats while Renaissance, Macron's centrist alliance managed to capture 160 seats and Marine Le Pen's National Rally 140. This means that Macron Pieces must run within each block to form temporary alliances and thus be able to pass the essential measures to guarantee governance. Hence, in some topics it will be necessary to set up a yellow front; for others a red one and for others a blue one. The process is just as laborious as the one that leads us to group colors on the same side of a Rubik's cube. This task can hardly be carried out by Ms Le Pen or Mr Melenchon, thus leaving the role of primus inter pares to Macron. And this will allow him to hold the presidency for the next three years when, most likely, a Marine Le Pen more skilled in the arts of slipping through the interstices of power will manage to get her elected president of France. It may also happen that in the face of a critical emergency, such as a ruthless attack by Russia on Ukraine, the French government lacks the tactical capacity to act due to the complexities of handling the Rubik's cube. In this case, how the situation will be resolved is a real mystery.

But the lesson that comes from Europe for those of us who live on the eastern shore of the Atlantic Ocean is that in Europe the problems of democracy are solved by democracy itself. In both England and France the sovereign has created a platform in which his leaders must necessarily resort to dialogue and negotiation to achieve governance. Nobody talks about Constituent Assemblies, removals of leadership or modifications to the democratic framework. Perhaps that is why they have managed to have democracy for so many centuries.

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