8 December 2016   Leave a comment

The French national elections are far away: 7 May 2017.  But the two major contenders are François Fillon, the center-right candidate, and Marine Le Pen, the National Front hard-right candidate. There seems to be an expectation that Fillon is a shoo-in, but after the Brexit vote and the US Presidential election, I doubt that any election can be predicted with great confidence.  Timothy Garton Ash is a pre-eminent European analyst and the article in The Guardian gives reasons to believe that Fillon might be vulnerable next spring.

François Fillon

Image result for fillon

Researchers have concluded that rising income inequality in the US suggests that it is increasingly likely that today’s children will make less money than their parents.  The decline is most pronounced for children born to middle-class families.  This outcome is the exact opposite of what has always been defined as the “American Dream” and an implicit rejection of the liberal assumption of economic progress. According to the Washington Post:

“The surge in inequality over the past half-century is well documented. New research this week, from economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, shows the bottom 50 percent of U.S. income earners only gained 1 percent in earnings from 1962 to 2014, after adjusting for inflation. From 1980 to 2014, they found, nearly 70 percent of income gains went to the top 10 percent.”

The current study, however, is the first to link this inequality to declining mobility, a link that suggests that the problem may be even more difficult to address.

The economic malaise is correlated with the evidence that support for democracy is also declining.  Matt O’Brien has written an op-ed for The Washington Post that asserts that popular support for representative democracy is reaching levels comparable to the last low point in the the 1930s.  The elections in France, Germany, and the Netherlands in 2017 will all be tests of how accurate O’Brien’s forecast might be.

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Posted December 9, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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