The breaking point of corruption?

This campaign has seen an unprecedented level of public anger and fury over exposed corruption in France, so much so that analysts are projecting that the public may finally have done with the traditional political classes, and have reached a breaking point in tolerating the excesses and frivolities of parliamentary leaders and government ministers. This is excellent news for parties like the Federalists, which have long been run on a platform of transparency and real conservatism.

 

Fillon built his campaign asking the public to tighten their belts in any number of ways. He called for increased working hours, decreased spending on public services, and told voters that this was the necessary costs of the economic stagnation that has gripped Europe.

So it was more shocking than ever that this bastion of “common-sense” economic conservatism was himself part of an appalling display of waste and greed. The French public are well-used to corruption, but like many things in French society, it has only been tolerated out of sight.

 

It is also true that the French public have never been asked to sacrifice their holiday time and social programs under the past two presidencies, so there is a certain bitter irony to being told to tighten one’s belt at a time when leaders are ostentatious in their frippery.

 

Fillon was publicly exposed to have paid his wife close to one million Euro for work she did not perform in his office, as evidenced by the fact that she lacked a government email, an official post, or even a spot in his office. The full scandal and the reaction to it are detailed here, along with an excellent summary of the history of modern corruption in French politics: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/03/world/europe/francois-fillon-scandal-france-politics.html  

 

Political analysts are speculating that while scandals of this kind are nothing new in French politics, this may mark a turning point, given the rise of anti-establishment and populist sentiments all over Western Europe and America.

 

Tired of EU bureaucrats making regulatory decisions and demanding a free flow of migrants and workers through Britain, the UK voted to leave the EU. This was a reaction to several factors, but in many ways public sentiment hinged on disgust at how much money was sent from the UK to the central EU government each year, for little apparently in return. The EU’s central government has become a figurehead of corruption and bureaucracy that ignores the needs and wishes of working people in Europe.

 

In America, the same corruption and bureaucracy was rejected in spirit over the last campaign season. Few politicians have been more obvious faces of  corruption than Hillary Clinton, who had become notorious for her million-dollar speeches to large financial institutions and for hacked email content which showed her plans to appoint cabinet ministers and officials directly from the organizations which contributed most to her campaign. The election is also a clear reaction to the corporatist policies of Barack Obama, under which no banker was ever jailed for the world financial crisis which we are still dealing with, and large corporations wrote trade pacts with little to no oversight from environmental or economic regulators, which is why they were so protested in Europe.

 

While the Federalist Party’s general view is that the sentiment was usurped by a sham government full of even more staggering cases of corruption, it cannot be argued that Western voters are sick and tired of the same old, same old cycle of corrupt politicians acting against the interest of average people.

 

Sadly, Fillon is just another example in the grand French tradition of corruption. President Hollande was exposed to have spent thousands of tax dollars on each of his haircuts, more appalling less for the cost than for the pointlessness of dressing up his combover.

In any case this change in the tide, in which voters are becoming vastly more aware of the scale and degree of corruption at work in French politics will only be good for our party in the current election and in seasons to come. We must work to show ourselves to be the more productive populist alternative to the National Front and other extreme parties, and to varnish our own credentials of transparency and economic policies driven by the needs of the average voters instead of large multinational corporations.

What they are not telling you about air quality in France: why air purifiers must become more widely used

Federalist Party candidates will officially be making air quality a campaign issue this coming season. For more, our staff researchers have written an article explaining why voters should be concerned, and why the present leadership have failed to address the wide concerns held by health experts and scientists across the country and EU:

 

Air quality in Europe is not thought to be an issue by many, especially compared with notorious smog hubs like Beijing or Delhi. France’s countryside is idyllic, and the low number of coal and gas plants keeps our air largely free of pollutants. That is the traditional wisdom in any case. The reality is that an air quality crisis has emerged without most of the public being made aware of it.

 

Paris smog is the most widely reported aspect of the current crisis. The smog became so bad this past summer that it set new records, and the winter smog this past season has been triggering public safety warnings and attempts to curb pollution for the first time. The outrage is justified, given that the present leadership in the French government has allowed this to occur with little to no resistance.

Diesel vehicles have not been regulated until this year. Instead of maintaining strong air quality standards in France, we have allowed the EU to be the regulating party, and leading automakers, especially those who produce diesel vehicles like Volkswagen, have been flagrantly disregarding emissions standards for years, and are wildly off-target when tested in real-world conditions.

 

Wildfires in Spain have also spread large clouds of ash and soot across the continent with the Western airflow. Arsonists set much of the countryside ablaze in Northwest Spain over the past dry season, and wildfires are expected to continue to be a problem this coming summer.

 

Currents from China and Russia have also been carrying smog pollution across the continent to new and alarming degrees. An Eastern European air crisis continues to develop in Poland and the rest of the former Soviet Block, as many countries increase their consumption of natural gas and oil from Russia with inefficient power plants and unchecked emissions.

 

Due to the continued fear of nuclear plant problems, especially after the recent explosion near a French plant and the foiling of terrorist plans to attack a power plant in Belgium, nuclear power is on the way out in Europe. Instead of moving toward a renewable energy future and allowing the ever-cheaper market costs of green energy to progress naturally, governments have bowed to the interests of the fossil fuel lobby and turned on defunct coal and gas plants. Increased coal and natural gas use in Germany has massively contributed to emissions and pollution all across Europe.

 

The WHO has released a new survey showing 90,000 premature deaths every year linked to air quality, in Europe alone. That should be an alarming figure to anybody, and the fact that the problem is dealt with in an utterly inadequate way in the city of Paris and ignored in the larger countryside of France is evidence of total incompetence on the part of the Hollande administration.

 

For the first time, air purifiers which used to be popular only in China and America have now started to be developed and recommended for use in Europe. Dutch engineers have experimented with large-scale outdoor purification, while Dyson have made inroads with indoor solutions. What used to be thought of as a silly gimmick is now a necessity, since indoor air quality in French cities is so appallingly bad. Authorities are also recommending that elderly and children limit outdoor time in French cities this summer, which is an unprecedented step for a Western European country.

To combat this crisis, the Federalist Party recommends:

 

-eliminating special tax loopholes and exemptions for power companies who do not meet or exceed emissions standards

 

-tax credits for utility companies producing zero-carbon, renewable electricity

 

-tax credits for consumers who install solar panels

 

-incentivize consumers buy electric cars by expanding charging infrastructure and subsidizing costs

 

-expand cycle networks and public transportation across France, especially in Paris

 

-phase out all diesel vehicles by 2050, using a system of tax incentives and new regulations

Voters are encouraged to demand that air quality issues receive an adequate debate in election forums and discussions, and should share these concerns with friends and neighbors in an effort to boost support of Federalist Party candidates.

 

Going back to air purifiers, better read this to find out why purifiers are important and what kinds, models, and brands are out there. Even when outdoors you can enjoy the benefits of purified air, through portable models found here: portable air purifier reviews.

The industry of decline

Feelings of nostalgia are an essential part of French culture. They are the bedrock of our art cinema,  the current slate of hipster music, and the obsession with Romantic figures of the past, from Rimbaud to Gainsbourg. However, they are also a potent political force with which the country is beginning to reckon, and a prominent source of profit in the public discourse.

 

Increasingly popular works of nostalgic political rumination have been creeping up the bestseller lists across France every year, led by authors such as Michel Onfray. His latest work, entitled Decadence: The Life and Death of the Judeo-Christian Tradition, is a quintessential case study in the genre. His book operates on the presumption (backed by what he says is extensive research) that the Western society as we know it is decaying at the hands of populist nationalism and terror threats. The genre is so omnipresent that the official Larousse dictionary has actually added the term “declinism” to the lexicon, to reflect how widespread the trend is.

Many other writers are reflecting on the present state of French society, and their outlook is not optimistic. Several investigative works have been published in the past year examining how radicalized Muslim youths are returning to France from Syria with emboldened terrorist tendencies, and the preponderance of exclusively Muslim suburbs and modern ghettoes in French cities, which have become an extreme danger to local law enforcement to the point that they are hardly overseen at all. These are considered existential threats to the French way of life, in the minds of genre authors.

 

Then there is the economic situation, which is hardly painted in a rosier light. The economy continues to stagnate, and yet the political classes have demonstrated a gross aptitude for expenditure at the public coffers, and ironically, the political books dealing with this in an apocalyptic, “declinist” mindset, are some of the biggest generators of revenue in the present market.

 

French nostalgia in the present day is in part a reaction to the changing French society, whether it is the influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, or the wave of

Americanisation which is transforming our food culture and consumer society. It is

anti-globalist and a reaction to the service economy which we have all resigned ourselves to being a part of: a reflection of the fact that most people do not feel useful anymore.

 

There is also a feeling that French innovation and manufacturing is permanently gone from the country. While artisan goods like pots, pans and cooking utensils are still produced in France, technical innovations and new devices are generally not. So, French buyers who are frustrated by their government’s inability to cope with the air quality crisis are forced to buy British air purifiers, and the causes of the air pollution in the first place are from German cars, which are infinitely more popular than the French makes which used to be at the forefront of the European market for most consumers.

Whether this mindset will continue to grow or not is a subject for debate. Liberal activists and thinkers have broached the idea that the “declinism” of today will give way to hope and change tomorrow, but this debate has been going for centuries. It is yet another reminder of the fact that we need systemic change in French politics, which will require going beyond the major parties.