Socialists have run France for the past five years, but not for much longer.
Current President François Hollande is so popular, members of his own party are openly working against him. Plotters include the politician who emerged on Sunday as the country’s current great left-wing hope, a 49-year-old admirer of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, until very recently obscure—who, of course, wants to legalize marijuana.
There’s plenty for a lefty to like about Benoît Hamon, who sounds not at all unlike prominent successful politicians like Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Liberal prime minister who has promised to legalize cannabis in that country sometime this year.
Hamon favors strong environmental protections and is critical of big banks and governments that are business-first. Currently the front-runner in a two-politician race to win the Socialist Party’s nomination for the upcoming presidential election in May, Hamon was kicked out of Hollande’s government in 2014 after criticizing the president for not being left-wing enough.
Current French policy on marijuana—the most-consumed illegal drug there, just like it is everywhere else—is best described as “repressive.” Twenty percent of French teenagers regularly use marijuana, which is illegal to possess, cultivate or sell. Medical marijuana is also nothing much more than a nice idea, with synthetic marijuana-derived pharmaceuticals the closest thing to medical cannabis in France.
Hamon has pointed to Colorado as proof-positive that legalizing cannabis creates jobs and rakes in oceans of tax money, the better to fund big-government projects like healthcare with.
He is also a near stone-cold lock to lose.
In fact, Hamon’s platform—which includes taxing robots, paying all people a national living wage and other ideas derided as just as absurd as legalizing marijuana (which never works…)—is so out-there that he’s been accused of deliberately seeking defeat.
And he is, sort of. As he told Politico EU, the idea is to put on just strong enough of a showing in May in order to achieve a “moral victory” for the left-wing and subsequently become the leader of the political movement that then might—might!—win in 2022.
Neither Hamon nor anyone else not closely aligned with Donald Trump has much of a shot of winning.
France’s electorate has shifted sharply to the right-wing. This means Marine Le Pen of the far-right wing National Front party—the French Donald Trump, essentially, but female, smarter and with 30 years of divisive politics under her belt instead of dodging taxes, declaring bankruptcy and slinging catchphrases on reality TV—is the current favorite to win office in May’s national election.
That said, Hamon may be onto something when he says young voters—who by default will eventually decide everything, since old voters are older and are on schedule to die sooner—are just as sick of soft liberal politics as they are disgusted with right-wing nativists, and want a return to “fundamental” left-wing values like free education, living wages and legal weed.
But with leading French politicians like Le Pen doing their best Trump impressions, and the viable alternative to a return to fascism declaring himself “neither right not left,” any chance of a Hamon victory looks like an alternative fact at best.
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