Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Macron, Sanders and Trump: Is the Party Over?

Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election. Not only is he the youngest president in French republican history, but he was able to create his own political party – La République En Marche! – to defeat the traditional left and right French power structures. Similar to the success in the U.S. presidential primaries of the independent Bernie Sanders and to some extent Donald Trump in the general election, Macron’s win is further evidence of the decline of historical party organizations.

Political parties are not part of constitutions. They are based on custom more than foundational laws. Their programs evolve; even their names can change. The French UMP (the Union for a Popular Movement) was formed in 2002.  In May 2015, the party was renamed and succeeded by the Republicans. The United States has had many parties that no longer exist – Whigs, Federalist, Progressive, Greenback, Free Soil. In other words, political parties are ephemeral; they rise and fall.

The independent Bernie Sanders was able to win 22 states in the presidential primary against the candidate of the regular Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton. Before running for president, Donald Trump backed Democrats and Republicans.

For a candidate to be on a ballot at the national or local level in the
United States, certain legal criteria must be respected. The same is true in most other countries. Although there may be many splinter parties in a country, each party must show a minimum legal basis to be on the ballot. Each country’s political process has legal requirements.

How to create or maintain a party structure when modern technology de-empasizes institutional structures? How to reconcile legal requirements to be on a ballot in a world of heightened individualism? How to squeeze into a party platform the many desires of party members?

What makes the Macron election so unique, therefore, is that he was able to create a political party in less than three years. He did not merely change a name, such as from UMP to Republican, he was able to create an entirely new entity.

His success indicates a growing fluidity in many democratic processes, but not necessarily beyond the presidential election. While Macron was able to win the presidency, it does not mean that the La République En Marche! Party will be able to govern. The legislative elections coming up in France will show how far the new party will succeed when confronted by the traditional Republicans, Socialists or the Front National. Winning a presidential election does not guarantee that citizens will vote for the candidates of the same party in the legislature, especially if the party has no historical following.

While Donald Trump won the presidential election as a Republican, that party has not shown a willingness to follow him on all legislation. For the moment, he has not been able to unite all Republicans in both chambers to agree on a healthcare bill. Trump won the November 8 election on the Republican ticket, but it was and is obvious that he does not come out of the Party apparatus.

Macron’s party creation was audacious (does that word have a familiar ring to someone else?) and his personal victory most impressive. But his ability to govern will be better evaluated on the basis of the June legislative choices. While his personal victory was decisive, he must have substantial party backing to carry out his program. Being the youngest president elected merits appreciation, but it is not the same as a victory for a new political party. As Robert Redford asks at the end of the movie The Candidate (1972) after winning an election: “What do we do now?”

Macron’s victory, much like Donald Trump’s, is more a personal statement than a party affirmation. Macron and Trump also profited from the weaknesses of their opponents. But more importantly, governing is not running for office; individual triumphs are not party successes and administrating policy programs goes beyond charismatic individuals. Modern technology and individualism work against institutional operationalization. The decline of political parties is only one manifestation of those phenomena.

More articles by:
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail