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‘Change can come from enlightened voting’

Jun 14,2017 - Last updated at Jun 14,2017

The Conservative defeat in the June 8 British parliamentary election and the projected landslide for the 14-month old “Right-Left” party of French President Emmanuel Macron have dealt a heavy body blow to European “Trumpism”.

This phenomenon formally emerged when Donald Trump started campaigning for the US presidency, in June 2015, but was hanging in the air long before.

“Trumpism” is not an ideology, but a reaction by people disaffected with politicians and political systems.

“Trumpism” is promoted by figures who appeal to unsettled people plied with lies and false news and afflicted with racism and fear.

Since his inauguration, Trump has done his best to axe progressive domestic legislation, notably the Affordable Care Act adopted during the administration of Barack Obama, as well as pull out of international obligations, like the Paris agreement on reducing greenhouse gases that produce climate change.

Therefore, “Trumpism” leads to reversal of key measures and commitments with harmful consequences for the “American people”, and the peoples of the world struggling with the negative impact of climate change/global warming.

It is significant that when Britain’s previous Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, called an general election for May of that year, he promised to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union (EU).

His objective was to court the anti-EU bloc of Conservatives and benefit from anti-EU feelings, stoked by both hardline Conservatives and the UK Independence Party (Ukip) and its leader Nigel Farage.

Cameron’s gamble paid off, his party won a majority and was able to govern without a coalition partner for the first time since 1992.

However, Cameron miscalculated badly when he followed through with his pledge to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

Although he personally favoured remaining in the EU, the “leave” camp secured a slim majority and Cameron was forced to step down in favour of Theresa May.

Although her party enjoyed a thin majority in parliament, she also badly miscalculated by calling a snap election and asking voters to back her personally, rather than her party.

She not only lost her majority, but also enabled the Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn, to increase its representation and, ultimately, could provide Labour with a chance to challenge Conservative rule.

May was counting on “Trumpism” to give her a majority, but following last June’s referendum, “Trumpism” had lost some of its appeal.

Voters who had cast ballots for “Brexit”, Britain’s exit from the EU, began to realise they could suffer the loss of major financial benefits: subsidies, jobs and rules governing employment once Britain leaves.

Furthermore, May had called for a “hard Brexit”, full divorce, including from the common market, alarming Britain’s business and banking communities.

Although May’s Conservative critics demand her resignation, she argues she has a mandate to remain in office until the term of the current parliament expires in five years’ time. 

This is unlikely.

She could be ousted in her party’s leadership elections in the fall. May’s weakness and the disarray among the Conservatives could postpone the opening of Brexit negotiations, set for June 19.

Calling another early election could result in an outright Labour victory since Corbyn, the Labour leader espousing the party’s original socialist agenda, has captured the imagination of young voters and won over Conservatives dismayed by Cameron’s and May’s monumental miscalculations.

While Labour has accepted the Brexit result of the referendum, Corbyn who was not for leaving and lukewarm on staying has not revealed how he sees Britain’s relationship with Europe post-Brexit. 

Nevertheless, he is in a position to make his voice heard if and when May, or her successor, commences negotiations.

People who oppose Brexit hope the entire project will fail.

Corbyn’s Labour Party did well in the election because it is not the “new Labour” created by Tony Blair.

Corbyn’s Labour is the traditional socialist party committed to the working class and preserving the country’s health and welfare services faced with Conservative austerity.

Therefore, Corbyn, 68, is the new face of the old Labour, a politician untarnished by the liberal economic policies of the Blair era or the 2003 war on Iraq, which has devastated and destabilised this region.

Unlike the distant and awkward May, Corbyn campaigned among voters and won their support by exercising considerable charm no one knew he had, and convincing them of Labour’s return to traditional policies and values.

Meanwhile, on the European continent, France has flatly and decisively rejected “Trumpism” and an exit from the EU, as personified by Marine Le Pen of the right-wing National Front.

In the run-up to the French election, Trump dubbed Le Pen the “strongest candidate” when it was clear that this was not the case.

Although her party took one-third of the votes in the May presidential election, it may secure only five or even fewer seats in the national assembly in the second round of voting, on June 18.

Macron’s La Republic En Marche! is predicted to win more than 400 seats out of 577, a huge majority.

Macron, 39, France’s youngest ever president, is a strong supporter of the EU and, with the cooperation of Germany’s Angela Merkel, hopes to instigate major reforms and may even tackle the massive EU bureaucracy.

The Corbyn-Macron victories show that change can come from enlightened voting rather than blind balloting for naive, ignorant populists like Trump.

 

His terrible performance while in office may even make future British and French voters wary of choosing hard-right candidates with no or little experience in governance.

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