French President Emmanuel Macron has signed into law decrees that attack the rights of people to collectively bargain and organise and allows employers to more easily fire staff. Trade unions have lambasted Macron’s actions. According to France 24 Philippe Martinez, the General Secretary of the CGT, said the decrees give “full powers to employers” at the expense of workers. Although some measures will not be implemented until next year, the decrees are part of Macron’s plan to liberalise the French economy to improve productivity and cut unemployment. However the government’s blatant disregard for the concerns of working people will not be forgotten any time soon.
The Kenyan Supreme Court has nullified the result of last month’s presidential election result. In that election incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta won re-election much to the frustrations of Raila Odinga’s opposition. After a day of calm parts of the country, especially in opposition strongholds, erupted into violence amid calls of vote tampering. I must confess that I was skeptical of Odinga’s case because at the last election he also contested the result and the Supreme Court dismissed Odinga’s case for lacking evidence. Evidently the Supreme Court has seen compelling evidence this time around and the time has come for change.
Tunisia is the birthplace of the Arab Spring and has so far been the only affected country not to crush those demanding change, reverted back to authoritarian government, or become a failed state. The values of human rights, equality before the law and democratic elections were the promise of the Arab Spring and whilst human rights and democratic elections have been enshrined in the country’s new constitution, equal treatment for different groups of people has been harder to come by. However this appears to be changing for the better.
Kenya is one of the most politically and economically developed countries in Africa and on Tuesday conducted its second presidential election since a political unrest in 2007-8 over disputed election results. Since this instability powers have been devolved away from Nairobi and the country has embarked on some measures of electoral reform in order to tackle corruption and defend the integrity of the country’s elections. The elections were predicted to be a flashpoint for violence but so far there only been a few examples of tensions boiling over into physical confrontations, and nothing on the scale of the 2007-8 political crisis.
The first round of the French presidential election took place a number of weeks ago and the result was that neither candidate from the two main political parties of France- the Socialist Party and Les Républicains- made it into the second round of voting. Instead, former Socialist Party minister and self-declared centrist Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National made it into the second round vote. Left-wing populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon narrowly finished fourth with nearly 20% of the vote. Mélenchon was the candidate that I wished to see elected as the French President and but because of the result there have been many questions about who these voters should support. I’m going to argue against some of the nonsense that has been proposed in recent weeks before revealing what I would do.
The ANC have been governing South Africa since 1994, but they have not been doing so alone. The ANC stands for election as an independent political party but it is also a member of the Tripartite Alliance, which sees it supported by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). However the increasingly erratic behaviour of President Jacob Zuma, and the numerous and longstanding allegations of corruption, have alienated many within COSATU and the SACP. COSATU General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali has said that the current ANC leader is not the “right person” to lead the country. Zuma needs to be removed, and this move shows that the labour movement may well be the ones to do it.
The French elections will be a massively symbolic event. Not only will the French people who will be their legislators and their next President, the result will either embolden far-right populists across Europe or the those parties opposed to this tide of authoritarian feeling. I have previously argued that the structural barriers in the Dutch and German political systems make the election of far-right parties much more difficult, and I remain convinced of this view. However, the same cannot be said of France. The following few articles shall be exploring the French political system and the election because if France falls to the same far-right forces as have prevailed elsewhere, the ramifications will be numerous. This piece shall analyse the constitutional ambiguity that has given me cause for concern.