Can Europe Make It?

Europeans should be excited about Benoît Hamon winning the French presidency

From his calls for universal income to his ideas on how to make France’s parliament more representative, Benoît’s candidacy embodies the progressive, democratic values we hold at DiEM25.

Yanis Varoufakis
1 February 2017
haman.jpg

Benoit Hamon. Wikimedia commons. Public domain.

A few years ago, in a televised chat with other French progressives, Benoît Hamon succinctly exposed the essence of our troubles in Europe: “[EU] governments may change,” he said, “but not the policies”.

Since then, the Socialist former Education minister has been developing policy proposals to help steer both the EU’s second-largest economy and the European project away from its current destructive socioeconomic spiral.

From his calls for universal income and proposals for humanitarian visas for refugees to his ideas on how to make France’s parliament more representative, Benoît’s candidacy embodies the progressive, democratic values we hold at DiEM25. Like an increasing number of European progressives, Benoît embraced DiEM25’s concept of “Constructive Disobedience” as the vehicle to trigger positive change in Paris and Brussels. We should all be excited about the prospect of Benoît occupying the Élysée Palace.

A few weeks ago, I had an open and frank dialogue with Benoît in Paris. As DiEM25 we’d like to continue exploring some of his progressive proposals in more detail (for example, I think that Benoît’s universal income plan could benefit from DiEM25’s own universal right to capital income proposal). But I was delighted with our conversation and Benoît’s willingness to join forces and becoming a leading part of our effort to build the Progressive International that will save the EU from itself.

The media often refers to Benoît’s admiration for Muhammad Ali – he has a poster of the legendary boxer and activist in his office. And I find this quite fitting in terms of the current political landscape and the commentary around Benoît’s chance to become France’s next president.

Bon courage, Benoît! As Ali said,

“Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

How will we work after coronavirus?

The pandemic has profoundly changed our working lives. Millions have lost their jobs; others have had no choice but to continue working at great risk to their health. Many more have shouldered extra unpaid labour such as childcare.

Work has also been redefined. Some workers are defined as 'essential' – but most of them are among the lowest-paid in our societies.

Could this be an opportunity?

Amid the crisis, there has been a rise in interest in radical ideas, from four-day weeks to universal basic income.

Join openDemocracy at 5pm UK time/6pm CET on 4 June as we discuss whether the pandemic might finally be a moment for challenging our reliance on work.

Hear from

David Graeber Author of 'Bullshit Jobs' and Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics.

Other panellists will be announced soon.

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