The great flop of Benoît Hamon

The best that can be said of Benoît Hamonis that he did not learn from Donald Trump's success in the Presidential elections: "Stick to your guns! Don't try to please people!" After having secured a stunning, surprise victory in the socialist primaries thanks to the theme of a Universal Basic Income, he soon paid it only lip service when it came to assemble his troops for the campaign for the French Presidency. Wanting to rake in widely, at the cost of what had made his strength in the first place, he lost even his initial support. It was enough for his adversaries to mock the Universal Basic Income to intimidate him and make him to withdraw in his shell. Particularly significant was the attack on the Universal Basic Income from his main leftist adversary, Jean-Luc Mélenchon: he loudly voiced his indignation at the thought that Mme Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, would also be a beneficiary... Now, one would have to be abysmally stupid to want to forego 10,000€/year with no strings attached (and the same amount for your spouse) for no other reason than to prevent Christine Lagarde, who would barely notice, from receiving the same (a problem of social justice which income tax could nicely take care of). Yet, most of Hamon's adversaries came up with similar arguments, and it seemed (or the medias gave to believe) that even the public joined in their outrage. It is interesting, by the way, and revealing, in a sexist way, that Mélenchon targeted Lagarde, an assuredly well-paid working woman, but by no means representative of the great fortunes of France: in the case of a wealthy man, a sum such as the one in question would barely make a visual blip on the imagination, whereas in the case of a woman en vue, it immediately translates, in everybody's mind, in a vision of items of conspicuous consumption, such as luxury shoes, handbags...

Hamon drove the French Socialist Party to a historical disaster, garnering only 6% of the vote in the first run, many of his friend having fled his sinking ship during the campaign to join Emmanuel Macron. As soon as the results were known, he appealed to his voters to vote for Macron - who greeted his support with ominous coolness: "Here, I'll be clinical... This comes from a party which made 6%..."

A.M. de G.

And now Benoît Hamon in France: the new fight for a Universal Basic Income

Benoît Hamon Universal Basic Income

Well, the epic of the Universal Basic Income is continuing! So does the astounding string of electoral surprises started during the American primaries in early 2016. Our hyper-ambitious, hyper-active French former Prime Minister Manuel Valls has been trounced by gentle Benoît Hamon in the socialist primaries. In the first round of the primaries, on Sunday 22, Hamon, who was expected to end up in third or fourth position out of five, ended up in the lead, with Valls second. In the run-off last Sunday, he roundly beat Valls 59%  to 41%. Hamon’s weapon? His platform for a Universal Basic Income. Which is resoundingly entering the French political debate, where it had been ignored and suppressed until now. And it will not go away! 

Honestly, I had told my friends on the day before the first round that I was going to vote for Benoît Hamon. Explaining that I was not expecting him to win, but that I was only worried that he might lose too badly, in which case the topic of the Universal Basic Income which he was advocating would be relegated on the top-shelf in France for another decade... And see what happened...