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Democracy in a time of coronavirus

by eurogreen Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 02:31:58 PM EST

Today, municipal elections are being held, as scheduled, in France, while simultaneously the country switches into lockdown.

I see no conspiracy; on the contrary, the governments seems be in "rabbit caught in headlights" mode, and probably thought it would catch more flak from postponing the elections than from maintaining them. On the other hand, maintaining the elections in the current crisis may well be a useful way of de-fusing the political impact of elections which Government-aligned candidates seemed on track to lose badly.

Macron's "La République en Marche" movement has failed pretty miserably in its strategy to put down roots at a local level (Lyon is something of a special case, as we shall see). They are running lists in all major cities, but were not expected to win any. The crisis will overshadow the elections; depressed turnout will help de-legitimize any surge for the left; and perhaps there will be a "legitimist" reflex on the part of people who work that way, to soften their defeat.  

Personally, I'm a sort of microcosm of the divided French left : in Lyon, as is common in the larger cities of France, there are three competing lists from left of centre, and I have ties to all of them.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

I ran on a Green Party list in the last elections in 2014, but I have mostly passed on this cycle. I was involved last year in the early stages of the constitution of Lyon En Commun, a municipalist organisation that is running lists in all nine sectors of Lyon, but dropped out while I was contesting the EU elections. Following our comprehensive defeat in that little adventure, I haven't found the motivation to get back on the horse that threw me off.

During the EU episode, my outfit, Diem25, was partnered with Générations, a left-wing offshoot of the Parti Socialiste. Our local partners from that party are aligned with the PS in the municipal elections, which is natural enough (along with the Communists and various other left splinters), and I find that I don't have the stomach to join them in campaigning with a party which betrayed the left so comprehensively under Hollande. I would expect them to get something like 10% tonight.

The Greens, both locally and nationally, have been pushing a centrist-environmentalist line, playing down their leftist roots, and hoping to attract voters disappointed by Macron. My old Green colleagues will tell me that they haven't really changed, but they have been somewhat swamped with new activists who don't necessarily share their core values... They are on track for the best score among the Left lists, perhaps over 20%

Lyon en Commun, in common with a number of such municipalist lists in larger French cities, is officially supported by Mélenchon's "France Insoumise" party. That is not a political problem for me, because I agree with their approach to municipal matters; but FI doesn't operate in a democratic manner internally, and their operatives were pretty clearly pursuing the party's agenda during my brief involvement.

The current Mayor of Lyon, Gérard Collomb, has been in place for decades, and has been drifting right from his mainstream PS starting point. He was also a key political mentor to Macron, and jumped to his party when it was formed. He was Minister of the Interior for a year, and while he was away, his carefully selected placeholders got a taste for power, and refused to step aside when he came home. So we have the amusing situation of his "official" LREM-supported lists running against LREM "dissidents", as well as lists from the old Right, Le Pen's RN, and... those three lists from the left.

Basically nobody has any idea what is going to happen. It's a two-round system, with a week of negotiations to be followed with the deposition of merged lists for the second round two weeks from now.

Turnout is indeed down : I saw a national figure of 18% of electors who voted before noon, compared to 23% at the same time in 2014. I will be down at the polling station at 8 pm to help with the count. Then the fun and games start.

I like to think that there is a chance of beating the incumbent, but it's not even sure that the three groups of the left will even sit down together to discuss the second round...

I'll update.

Stay safe! Those ballot papers could be contaminated by Cov-19! Wash hands and don't touch face. To an outsider it seems extraordinary the elections weren't called off.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 06:58:04 PM EST
We fought wars for your freedom, granddad would turn in his grave if you let a little bug throw you off. How it all ended in 2016 ...

The "Tweet Politics" of President Trump

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 07:28:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did not serve his country during the sixties and Vietnam: Bill Clinton - George Bush - Dick Cheney - Joe Biden - Donald Trump. John Kerry did and got trampled on by the rightwing gutter press and politics.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 07:35:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

innerboob flotsam from Spain

by Cat on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 12:50:07 AM EST
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Paper doesn't hold viruses; not for days: I used a ballot that was mailed to our house a few days ago. Our city applied the recommendations: come outside of the peak hours (check), maintain ~2 meters spacing in the queue (there were about 10 people), a bottle of hand sanitizer was available at the entrance of the polling station; all poll workers wore protection gloves, but no masks; ball pens for signing off the voters list were disinfected between each voter. Last but not least: first thing my wife and I do each time we come home from the limited errands we're still running, we wash our hands with water and soap.

Political parties are really in hiding mode this year: you can hardly find a national party logo on any of the lists in the running; only one of the lists was "supported by the Greens", the head of the list was running for the PS six years ago.

We'll see whether the second round next Sunday will still happen: given the exponential growth of detected cases (doubling about each 72 hours), we might be well above 20 thousand cases nationwide by next WE (that's Italy today, pretty much).

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 07:32:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One example in Crépy-en-Valois, about 50km north of Paris, one of the first cluster of cases two weeks ago:

Poll workers were wearing gloves, some were pictured with protective masks; hand sanitizer available; everyone maintained a 2m distance.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 07:47:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
About the second round, scheduled for next Sunday:

French Health minister, Olivier Véran (who's a MD) announced on TV that the government ad hoc "scientific council" will be consulted in the next days, and, based on their advice, a decision will be taken to postpone or go ahead with the second round.

Most constitution law experts think that if the second round is postponed, today's first round will have to be cancelled and the whole two-round election process redone from the start once the country gets out of this pandemic situation.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 07:53:25 PM EST
Yes. This is one aspect which makes maintaining the 1st round such a dumb idea : if the second round isn't held a week later, the whole thing is null and void.

Hmm perhaps that's the plan... On the current numbers, it's a bad day for LREM...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 09:15:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it turns out that, in Lyon, the Greens have the upper hand, with roughly 30% overall. That counts as a tidal wave. We weren't even at 10% last time, six years ago.

My other two lists had mixed results : an honorable 9% for the municipalist list, Lyon en Commun, and and a (rather pathetic) 7% for the PS/PC list. They will both be negotiating to merge with the ecolos, and put Gregory Doucet (Greens) into the mayor's seat.

The results in the rest of France aren't going the government's way either. They won't win Paris (unless they merge with Rachida Dati's LR list, which would be sort of suicidal), the Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is not even sure to win his town of Le Havre...

I would argue that the results are so bad for them that they can't afford to abandon the second round on the (perfectly valid) pretext of Coronavirus.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 09:53:36 PM EST
Joe here also needs his voters to die for him before his brain gives out:
by generic on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 09:58:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With the USA doing almost zero testing, how are people supposed to know whether they are at risk of Covid-19 infection or not?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 11:04:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the most at risk demographic that is currently winning Joe the primary also votes overwhelmingly Republican at the general...
by generic on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 11:23:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 10:50:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 09:25:32 PM EST
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They can always hide behind expert advice that the second round has to be postponed. If deaths continue to accelerate at the near exponential rate they have been, it won't even be a controversial decision. That does not mean that the voters will forget how this round went when they vote again in re-scheduled elections...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 11:02:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally, I'm a sort of microcosm of the divided French left : in Lyon, as is common in the larger cities of France, there are three competing lists from left of centre, and I have ties to all of them.

Does that mean that if you sorted your internal contradictions the left could unite under you? :-) ...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 11:11:32 PM EST
Talk this morning in deepest darkest France is all about businesses being contacted for total shutdown and the only excuse you can offer the gendarmerie for being out on the road will be either medical or food-buying necessity (how that works out in city centres I don't know). The "government" is certainly considering (or has already decided on) total confinement.

So the municipal elections won't go on to a second round, and the first round will have to be run again.

The "government" has been quite obviously chasing its tail for some time now, with new and stricter measures announced daily. The general impression is of a total clusterfuck. With the exception of the health services, but these have of course been scraped to the bone by years of neolib public service reduction.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 09:00:36 AM EST
It's confirmed by Macron tonight: complete lockdown, Italian style, and the 2nd round hastily postponed to sometimes in June (TBD). All governments in Europe have been surprised as how quickly the situation can deteriorate - our own Enarques are not any smarter.
by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 09:32:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump tried a classic distraction move yesterday by bringing up the possibility of a full pardon of Michael Flynn. Wasted effort, because at this point nobody gives a hoot about what he says any more.
by asdf on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 10:53:33 PM EST
Yeah, the US' state religion is in quite a state:

And the main event hasn't even started yet. The more I think about it the likelier it seems to me that this could also spell the end of the EU. The EU's reaction to every crisis I can remember has been, assuming good faith, utter failure. This one doesn't look like an exception:

And we aren't helping Italy either. Greece couldn't leave the EU, because supply chains would fracture and even in national destitution young people could leave for Berlin. Now, the borders are closed and the financial markets are dying.

by generic on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 11:45:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 11:53:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Ohio primary thrust into chaos after governor defies judge's decision not to delay election | NBC News |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 11:04:58 AM EST

Meanwhile fucking Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton are talking about introducing a time limited UBI. Trump will get a hundred thousand people killed and cruise to reelection.

by generic on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 02:25:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Watch his popularity fail in his home state of Florida ... 20% of residents are the elderly. Key state, one of many ...

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 04:47:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 05:59:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Trump will run on Trump Bux and locking up Tom Perez, winning 40 states.

by generic on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 06:41:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 06:44:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 07:23:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, we've been in lockdown for an hour now. If we go outside (separately), we are expected to be carrying a signed copy of this form, self-certifying that we are doing it for a legitimate reason, such as walking the dog, or getting some air.

I'm not sure if dropping off some playing cards to some American friends who are going out of their minds with boredom, will count as a legitimate motive. I'll put it in the category "assistance aux personnes vulnérables".

So, the results of the first round will be respected (no way around that), and they are going to pass a special law to legitimize the delay of the second round, "in June at the latest".

In Lyon, I expect that this delay will allow the right to cut deals among themselves in an attempt to save their bacon, and the left to bicker, quarrel and dig their own graves. Nevertheless I expect the Greens to win overall in Lyon, because of the French tendency to reinforce in the second round, the trend established by the first round.

This will be an important symbolic victory, but won't necessarily change much in practice : municipal autonomy is weak, and weakening, in France, where the central government decides everything for everyone; and additionally, all French municipalities belong to supra-municipal collectivities which manage all big-ticket expenditure. Lyon is a test case, because this entity is being elected by universal suffrage for the first time (previously and elsewhere, each municipality sent delegates). In Lyon's case, the Greens, and even the Greens plus the left, won't have a majority on this, though they will be the largest group (I think).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 12:26:53 PM EST
This is getting ridiculous: we are expected to grant ourselves an authorization slip to go outside of the house for groceries, medicine & other "first necessity" items shopping, work commute when you can't work from home, doctors visit, "urgent" family reasons, exercising outside (like walking/jogging, alone: no team sports) and walking the dog.

You don't have to prove anything: just print/write this form (if you don't have a printer at home); no further justification needed, but if you don't have that precious paper, police may write you a €35 ticket.

It might have been a cunning move from the government to get the public laughing their asses off and forget about the unfolding tragedy:

(going out to buy carrots. Signed: moi)

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 07:32:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US-Eng. honor system
by Cat on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 07:44:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was in my office they day they started this, and managed to print a stack of them. But today they just changed the form.... (but for exercising outside or walking the dog you don't need it)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 07:45:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The dog may need it, just in case:

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 08:02:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
USAToday DICTION CORNER: "physical distancing"
by Cat on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 08:05:14 PM EST
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by Cat on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 08:19:59 PM EST
I never had any great confidence that any Democrat, and particularly Biden, had any great chance of defeating Trump. But now, after his bluster and blundering over the Corona Virus, I suspect that Trump is a dead man walking - regardless of who the Democratic nominee is.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 01:04:26 AM EST
Absolutely incorrect. Trump's supporters are not looking at epidemic reality differently from how they look at anything else. He has already crowned himself a "wartime president," and the crowds love wartime presidents. By late summer he will look like a hero for having brought the caseload down.

Massive economic programs (like the 1930s, only compressed in time) will give a long list of bragging points. Tons of photo ops. China-blaming. Border-closing. Flag-wrapping. Dead heroes to commemorate. Campaign opportunities will abound.

The best chance for the democrats (and humans in general) is for Biden to choose a running mate that can attract enough Sanders and Warren voters to actually win. Maybe even Warren herself. With the DNC in charge, they will probably find somebody who is "electable," though.

And there are six months of daily opportunities for these old geezers to get sick and depart the Earth. Including members of congress, where the average age is around 60.

by asdf on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 05:57:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
George Bush kept us save™ and Guliani was America's mayor.
I'm not sure how much Warren really helps at this point. The (online) Sanders supporters I hear from are spitting mad at her for the way the campaign was conducted for the last few months and the fact that she apparently can't decide between the guy who wrote the bankruptcy bill that supposedly brought her into politics and her "good friend" Sanders. Which covers most of his younger supporters I suppose. He also did great among older Latinos who are supposedly not that online, but Warren has zero pull there. If anything I'd take Warren's remaining supporters to be the core of the vote-blue-no-matter-who group so pandering to them is pointless.
On the other hand there probably is also very little the Democrats can do to stem the bleeding from Sanders supporters unless a feverish Biden announces Bernie as VP. I think the below is quite representative:

by generic on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 09:12:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generally speaking, candidates for president are trying to appeal to a large swath of their party's voters. They then select a VP to try to attract people who are not already included in that large swath.

Example: vile, completely irreligious urbanite Trump choosing midwestern small town religious whacker to convince fundamentalists to support him.

That means the people who run for president are from a different population than people who make potential VPs. Therefore, Warren will probably not be chosen.

But it is the DNC so who knows the height to which their idiocy will reach.

by asdf on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 04:18:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's also the reason Harris has no chance since Biden has the older Black vote locked up and if the Dems lose California they lose 50 states. I heard Klobb mentioned, when Biden welcomed her to the ticket, and she might be the candidate with the least cross appeal so she would be my guess.

Talking about candidates, we finally got the answer to the Warren PAC mystery and it's kind of boring:

Apparently the same money bag that bought her the DNC list.

On the other hand we have Tulsi endorsing Biden and I'm laughing tears:

What a dumb grift that turned out to be. Personally I thought she was angling for Tucker Carlson's job.
by generic on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 07:19:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the pandemic continues to grow at near exponential rates for the next few months (as I expect) because of half assed and inadequate containment measures then most of the electorate will have become infected and hundreds of thousands of mostly older voters will have died before November. There will be little room for bragging then...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 08:52:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The insanity continues:

The Macron government has sent instruction to the 30000-odd municipal councils (out of 34500 total in France) who were elected during the first round last Sunday (>50% majority) to meet physically between Friday and Sunday in order to proceed to the mayor election along with the main deputies.

With the ordinary citizens ordered to stay home, this instruction is already raising a ruckus.

Emmanuel "We are at war" Macron may be no Boris Johnson, not even Mark Rutte, but he, and his ministers can be surprisingly tone deaf. Yet another one that will have to be quietly backtracked and hidden under the carpet.

by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 04:21:46 PM EST
Well, that didn't take long: Prime Minister Edouard Philippe just announced the meetings in questions are to be postponed "until mid-May at least". The outgoing mayors and municipal councils mandates are extended until then.

Les maires élus au premier tour des municipales vont encore devoir attendre - Huffpo

Ça ne sera pas pour tout de suite. Edouard Philippe a annoncé ce jeudi 16 mars le report des réunions de conseils municipaux élus au premier tour, qui devaient se tenir de vendredi à dimanche et permettaient de désigner maires et adjoints, en raison de la pandémie de coronavirus.

Les équipes sortantes dans environ 30.000 communes concernées voient donc leur mandat prolongé jusqu'à mi-mai au moins. A cette date, un rapport devra permettre d'indiquer "s'il est possible d'installer les conseils municipaux", au regard des conditions sanitaires, selon le Premier ministre.

The Macron government is practicing the old Army joke: don't execute an order until you've received the countermanded order...

by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 07:12:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Testing and infected cases figures: it's been noted here that, unlike Germany, France doesn't run anything near a systematic testing campaign (only about 4000 tests per day), against the WHO recommendations. Only hospitalized patients and medical personal showing symptoms are being tested now: other "mild cases" are required to stay home and take paracetamol.

This puts into perspective the official figures of about 15000 "confirmed" cases in France as of Saturday night. The authorities acknowledged that the real number of cases is much higher. Earlier this Sunday, Health Minister Olivier Véran (who's a MD) estimated the total number of infected persons in France "somewhere between 30000 and 90000". Note the extremely wide range estimate.

This would put France in the same ballpark as Spain and Italy and way ahead of Germany, who has officially 24000 cases but is running 160000 tests per week, and the UK.

However, the CFR is lower in France (562 yesterday) than is Spain or Italy who tend to have an older population - Italy is even the oldest population in the world after Japan.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 04:50:14 PM EST
`He sacrificed himself': tributes to first doctor to die from coronavirus in France
The Covid-19 outbreak has claimed its first fatality in the French medical profession, a 68-year-old A&E doctor who was retired but kept coming into work in order to help his colleagues.

Jean-Jacques Razafindranazy, who worked on an emergency ward in Compiègne, in the Oise département, where France's first coronavirus cluster was recorded this month, died on Saturday at Lille university hospital.

Razafindranazy's family announced his death in a social media post titled "My father: a hero". His son told Le Parisien newspaper that his father was retired and could have stopped working but did not because his colleagues were so overworked.

"He sacrificed himself," the unnamed son said. "He wanted to help. He kept working because he loved it, it was his life. It's not fair. We are sad and angry."

Madagascar born Razafindranazy was retired and had just returned from a vacation there to help his colleagues on the front line at the Compiègne hospital. The Compiègne region, 50 km north of Paris was one of the first Covid-19 clusters in late February.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 07:48:51 PM EST
Four more doctors have died in northeastern France:

Five French doctors die from coronavirus

A total of five doctors have now died in France after contracting the coronavirus, the government confirmed on Monday, as concern grows over the welfare of medical practitioners on the frontline.
Four more doctors have died after contracting the coronavirus in France, officials said on Monday, a day after the country reported the first death of a doctor treating COVID-19 patients.

"We will never forget them," France's Health Minister Oliver Véran said on Monday evening.

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Mar 23rd, 2020 at 06:58:52 PM EST
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