It's still the economy, stupid

New poll shows that the economy and unemployment are the two biggest issues for US voters.

Back in April, Barack Obama had it made. He swatted away the birthers once and for all, made Donald Trump look an even bigger fool than normal and then, casually, bumped off Osama Bin Laden. It was a good month - and it seems to be as good as it's going to get.

But the Bin Laden boost is now over. Unemployment remains stubbornly above 9 per cent. Growth is still anaemic. Unfortunately for Obama, no matter how many international terrorists you kill, people care about the economy and jobs far more, as the poll below attests.

Gallup 

A total of 60 per cent of respondents in a recent Gallup poll described jobs or the economy as their major concern. Unemployment was a larger concern than healthcare, fuel prices, education and immigration combined. Despite hoovering up so much time and resources, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya do not appear to be a concern for US voters. They want jobs, damnit.

Obama main weakness will be the economy, unless it picks up drastically within the next six months. Mitt Romney's first, slick campaign advert concentrated solely on jobs, picking up on Obama's comment that there would be a few "bumps in the road" on the way to recovery.

Without a fall in unemployment, these attacks will continue and the Republican candidate (whoever that may be) will be able to land easy blows. James Carville's adage is truer than ever: it's still the economy, stupid.

BFM TV
Show Hide image

Emmanuel Macron's "moralisation of politics" comes at a heavy price for his allies

"Fake" jobs in French politics, season 3 episode 1.

Something is rotten in the state of France. No political party – at least none that existed before 2016 – seems immune to the spread of investigations into “fake” or shady parliamentary jobs. The accusations sank centre-right candidate François Fillon’s presidential campaign, and led to Marine Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity in the European parliament (and proxy wars within her party, the National Front). Both deny the allegations. Now the investigations have made their way to the French government, led by Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday morning, justice minister François Bayrou and secretary of state for European affairs Marielle de Sarnez announced their resignation from Philippe’s cabinet. They followed defence minister Sylvie Goulard’s resignation the previous day. The three politicians belonged not to Macron's party, En Marche!, but the centrist MoDem party. Bayrou, the leader, had thrown his weight behind Macron after dropping his own presidential bid in April.

The disappearance of three ministers leaves Emmanuel Macron’s cross-party government, which includes politicians from centre left and centre right parties, without a centrist helm. (Bayrou, who has run several times for the French presidency and lost, is the original “neither left nor right” politician – just with a less disruptive attitude, and a lot less luck). “I have decided not to be part of the next government,” he told the AFP.

Rumours had been spreading for weeks. Bayrou, who was last part of a French government as education minister from 1993 to 1997, had been under pressure since 9 June, when he was included in a preliminary investigation into “embezzlement”. The case revolves around whether the parliamentary assistants of MoDem's MEPs, paid for by the European Parliament, were actually working full or part-time for the party. The other two MoDem ministers who resigned, along with Bayrou, also have assistants under investigation.

Bayrou has denied the allegations. He has declared that there “never was” any case of “fake” jobs within his party and that it would be “easy to prove”. All the same, by the time he resigned, his position as justice minister has become untenable, not least because he was tasked by Macron with developing key legislation on the “moralisation of politics”, one of the new President’s campaign pledges. On 1 June, Bayrou unveiled the new law, which plans a 10-year ban from public life for any politician convicted of a crime or offence regarding honesty and transparency in their work.

Bayrou described his decision to resign as a sacrifice. “My name was never pronounced, but I was the target to hit to attack the government’s credibility,” he said, declaring he would rather “protect this law” by stepping down. The other two ministers also refuted the allegations, and gave similar reasons for resigning. 

Macron’s movement-turned-unstoppable-machine, En Marche!, remains untainted from accusations of the sort. Their 350 new MPs are younger, more diverse than is usual in France – but they are newcomers in politics. Which is exactly why Macron had sought an alliance with experienced Bayrou in the first place.

0800 7318496