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Democracy & Undermining the people’s interests

Nita Chicooree-Mercier

The concept of democracy in countries which are defined as democracies arises as a compelling question every time political events in major democratic countries unearth undemocratic practices. Democracy is inherently inbred with the idea of people’s interest, people’s voice and social justice. Increasingly, power wielders, politicians and media groups are not seen as being the spokespersons of the aspirations, demands and apprehensions of the people.

The recent elections in France cast doubts on the fair representation of the people. The two-round election gave the newly elected president a low percentage in the first round. With only 24% electors for Macron’s En Marche party, there was a clear 46% with Unsubmissive France, National Front, Sovereign France and UPR who were for national sovereignty and against Macron’s En Marche and European Union ultra-liberal economic policy.

 

Another 20% voted for Fillon, right-wing Republican candidate, and around 6% for the Socialist Party. Clearly, 72% of voters did not want Macron to represent them, among whom 46% were in strong disapproval of the European Union dictating policies to a national government. The two-round election set up by De Gaulle gives little choice to the public in a two-party final face-off.

Out of 47 million electors, 20 million voted for En Marche and 11 million for National Front, and 16 million chose not to vote. 27 million electors did not choose En Marche. How then the bizarre two-round election reflects the aspirations and choice of the people, and is a showcase of democracy in France raises eyebrows.

The Front National is conveniently used as a scarecrow to frighten away voters and push them in the arms of the right-wing or left-wing Socialist Party, of which En Marche is an offshoot. A name inspired by billionaire George Soros’ NGO MoveOn. A powerful businessman with close links to Brussels technocrats.

Demonization of the Front National

The demonization of the Front National is a convenient strategy to keep political power within the two main parties who agree to uphold the European Union. Rival parties view the EU as a club of businessmen promoting the interests of multinational companies to the disadvantage of local interests.

For the past ten years, the party has enhanced its image by expelling extreme elements and distanced itself from Jean Marie Le Pen’s wild statements. But out of habit, people in France and other countries keep parroting French media’s obsessional stigmatization of the party as racist, xenophobic and nationalist.

A convenient way to prevent in-depth debates on key issues which are of great concern to people and make the public believe that democracy is best preserved by the big right/left parties.

So one wonders what is undemocratic about the Front National, Unsubmissive France, Asselineau’s UPR and others claiming the freedom and right of the agricultural sector to choose where to buy seeds to sow in their own lands rather than having American multinational companies like Monsanto imposing their seeds on other people’s lands. Mauritian planters meekly accept to buy those imported seeds at high cost and flood the market with lifeless, tasteless sterile tomatoes, for instance, and consumers meekly buy such produces.

What is undemocratic about these parties demanding an end to de-industrialization of their country to safeguard technical know-how, skills and jobs for their countrymen, one may ask? There is no fairness in one European country, Spain, for example, over-flooding France with agricultural produces which bring down the price for local farmers and trim down the profit margin from the same produces grown locally. It is questionable whether the interests of the agricultural and industrial sector are properly defended by governments who are made to kowtow to the orders of the European Union. Seen in this perspective, it just seems that the Front National, defending French interests, is more socialist than the Parti Socialiste in France.

The suggestion of Marine Le Pen to hold referendums and consult public opinion on several treaties which bind France to the EU is a reflection of the spirit of democracy, if anything. In a BBC interview, Segolene Royal from the current governing Socialist Party adamantly refused any referendum on the EU, taking it for granted that people have no say in redefining their future within the EU.

EU’s ultra-liberalism

Ultra-liberalism advocated by EU is held responsible for huge inequities among different income groups and loss of jobs, resulting in fewer opportunities for social mobility while increasing impoverishment. Capitalism favours migration to create a wider pool of consumers and oils the whole machinery of productivity.

Migration within the EU is another cause of resentment. For instance, the average salary in Bulgaria is 200 euros. A Bulgarian worker who moves in to France can bring his family along. If his widowed mother who has never worked settles in France, she is granted 800 euros as widow’s pension. An average employee in a municipal council works 40 years to receive a 800 euro pension upon retirement.

Other migrants from Africa and North African countries are suspiciously viewed as deliberately having large families to live off a generous welfare system funded by taxation of all sorts. Large families are given priority on state housing aid. Social justice at other people’s expenses only causes resentment.

The middle-class and upper middle class taxpayers are regularly fleeced to provide funds for the generous welfare system. A tax on property owners having another apartment or house which they rent beside owning their own house was set up by Socialist PM Lionel Jospin in the early 2000s and was meant to be temporary to fill up the coffers of social aids. This tax, called ‘Les Prélèvements Sociaux’, has not only been maintained up to now but it has been multiplied by five. During the five years of Socialist presidency of Hollande, the tax on high income groups increased four-fold. French laws apply in the Dom-Tom as well; so middle and upper middle-class everywhere face the consequences of heavy taxation to fill up state coffers. A higher level of employment, which is not the case currently, should bring income to a greater number of families and relieve the burden of taxes on one social category. The vicious circle of de-industrialization, delocalization and unemployment is what stares at governments and the public in the more prosperous member states of the EU.

Wealth distribution with less prosperous EU countries is perceived as only enriching the club of multinationals. Currently, EU rules to reduce public debt in France only lead to more budget cuts in public service and extending the tentacles of the taxation system.

As far as economic growth is concerned, the German style of taking in one million refugees from the Middle-East to boost industrial growth and consumerism does not appeal to large chunks of French society. The option of re-industrialization to employ existing large numbers of existing unemployed people is seen as more fair. Sovereign countries have the right to define whether increased consumerism is an acceptable norm to justify for citizenship.

Citizenship, culture, history, values…

Citizenship is also about culture, history, values and ideals of a given society and the ability of newcomers to fit in and adapt, and not about challenging the host country’s values, encouraging provocation and conflictual confrontation to the point of undermining social cohesion. Should followers of far-left wing party Unsubmissive France be labelled as ‘anti-progress’ and ‘retrograde’, as it was done during the recent campaign? Can we objectively dismiss 11 million voters of Front National by the easy-to-make statement that they would be only a bunch of narrow-minded vicious racists?

Brainwashing by mainstream media groups owned by powerful business tycoons still has sunny years ahead until the internet, which enables plurality of information, is more widely used by the public. The slogan of fascism is randomly brandished to discredit rival parties. Both state and private media gave the widest coverage to Macron’s En Marche, a thousand press articles and high number of television reports and interviews. A favour not democratically extended to the other candidates.

* * *

What is democratic about right-wing politicians Sarkozy and Cameron invading Libya and staging the assassination of its leader Colonel Gaddafi? With the blessing of the US and the United Nations. What leverage did democracy have to prevent the invasion of Iraq by the US supported by England, Italy and Spain? The anti-war cry of people in these countries was totally ignored. Does the voice of people matter in the biggest democracies? The destruction and chaos prevailing in the Middle-East started with the invasion of Iraq and Libya. It spread like fire with the West and Israel’s support of Syrian rebels against President Assad. For an issue raised by gas-pipes. So-called end of dictatorship being only a secondary collateral cause.

Most French people do not approve of last year’s sale of warplanes to Saudi Arabia in the war against Yemen. Same in Britain. Realpolitik in the form of huge profits by the armament industry is increasingly questioned by the public. Moral principles in foreign policies do matter. But governments in democracies have other priorities and they are mostly inspired by the profits of ultra-liberalism mainly pocketed by a closed circle of businesses. Advisors and academics supporting Sarkozy in the invasion of Libya are now hovering around newly elect, E. Macron.

“Change the country we are living in by exposing all the irregularities of power-wielding and re-engineering economic policies for the benefit of a greatest number of people, change the world by understanding how it works and the driving forces at all levels, do not limit unions to segregationist association of white people like the EU,” this is what the brightest of minds France have ever had for the past forty years.

Francois Asselineau quotes Confucius in perfect Mandarin, recalls verses of the Quran in Arabic, the Bible and the Torah to explain that the scriptures contain calls for unity and peace, and also contradictory statements on division and destruction.

Above all, he reads out lengthy passages of Sri Aurobindo’s writings, urges people to learn Hindi and quotes the Upanishads and blesses the audience with ‘The world is one family’ quoted in Sanskrit. Away from media’s publicity, Francois Asselineau hardly garners 1% vote at national level. Impossible!, his supporters exclaim.

Nita Chicooree-Mercier

Tags: Nita Chicooree-Mercier French Presidential Elections Democracy Demonization of Front National European Union Sarkozy David Cameron Colonel Gaddafi Yemen Sri Aurobindo Francois Asselineau President Assad Lionel Jospin Segolene Royal Marine Le Pen Emmanuel Macron En Marche George Soros