Macron to 'Defend' JCPOA: US Scholar

News ID: 1403630 Service: Interview
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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A professor of comparative politics at the William Paterson University said French President-elect Emmanuel Macron will “defend” the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, known as the JCPOA, which US President Donald Trump has threatened to “tear up”.

“In the Mid-East, Macron will continue French Military action against IS (Daesh), will seek to defend the Iran Nuclear Deal from the Trump administration…,” John G. Mason told the Tasnim News Agency.

John Mason got his Bachelor's degree from New York University, an MA from Queens College, CUNY, and an M.Phil and PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center. He began at William Paterson in 1992. His areas of expertise are the politics of Europe and the former Soviet Union and American security policy. Professor Mason teaches both comparative politics and International Political Economy at the William Paterson University’s Political Science Department and MA Program in Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA).

Following is the full text of the interview.

Tasnim: On Sunday, centrist Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency with a decisive victory over the far-right Marine Le Pen that his supporters hailed as holding back the tide of populism. The average poll conducted in the final two weeks of the campaign gave Macron a far smaller lead (22 percentage points) than he ended up winning by (32 points), for a 10-point miss. In the eight previous presidential election runoffs, dating back to 1969, the average poll missed the margin between the first- and second-place finishers by only 3.9 points. What is your take on this?

Mason: I think the gap between Macron's score in the first round and the second can be explained rather easily. He is a young media-savvy politician who resembles Justin Trudeau in Canada or Matteo Renzi in Italy. Like Trudeau, he's a francophone who speaks fluent English.

The second round of the French Presidential election is a 'winner take all" contest - where the Macron vote included votes for him and "votes barrage" against Marine Le Pen. According to at least one poll, 48% of the pro- Macron vote was a "vote barrage." He drew anti-Le Pen votes from the Republicans, Socialists and the Melenchon voters who voted for him if they voted at all.

Here are the final results with Macron receiving two-thirds of the votes actually cast:

Emmanuel Macron : 66,10%

Marine Le Pen: 33,90%

Abstention : 25,44%

Blancs: 3 019 735

Nuls : 1 049 522

There was also a 25% abstention vote and 8% blank ballots, which I believe can also be seen largely as an Anti-Le Pen vote. The "mot d'ordre" from the PCF and Melenchon was "Not one vote for the National Front," so abstention was a way of honoring that pledge without actually endorsing Macron.

Tasnim: Do you believe that France’s domestic policy will change under Macron?

Mason: Macron calls himself a "progressive" which translates in French terms as a kind of Green Social Liberal (“Liberaux Sociaux.") We will see cuts in the public sector and reforms of French labor law to raise the retirement age and allow for more temp employment (Contrats a Duree Determinee). But also more social support for workers who are experiencing technical unemployment and for retraining as we see in Sweden.

I expect to see more support for French "starts ups" and an effort to go "head hunting" in both the UK and the States in an effort to relocate jobs in finance, IT, renewable energy and climate mitigation to France. The effort will be to induce French ex-pats to repatriate and bring the job skills they developed in the City of London, Hollywood or Silicon Valley back home.

The fact that Macron has rolled out the welcome mat for American climate researchers and renewable energy engineers is also quite striking and makes him an unusual kind of Neo-Liberal who's committed to addressing the climate emergency and promoting sustainable development, both in France and in West Africa.

This policy will grow the sectors in the big cities in France which already are beneficiaries from a globalized French economy and support jobs for the educated youth who constitute his base of his support.

I don't know what it will do for the small towns and rural areas left behind by these changes where both Le Pen and Melenchon found an audience. That is a crucial issue for the future. Le Pen will be back even stronger in 2022 if ways are not found to heal the "social fracture" in France.

Tasnim: He won the keys to the Elysee palace without giving a major address on international affairs. What kind of policy he may adopt towards the Middle East, Syria in particular?

Mason: Macron's foreign policy is described by him as "Gallo-Mitterandien” which implies a strong commitment to building the European Union as a competitive pole of power independent of the US, China and last and least, Putin's Russia.

In the Mid-East, Macron will continue French Military action against IS, will seek to defend the Iran Nuclear Deal from the Trump administration, will seek to help Germany to manage Mid-Eastern refugee flows into the EU countries, and support the Palestinians while trying to avoid a complete break with Israel. Given the Jewish ethno- nationalism of the current Israeli regime and an American support for the annexation of East Jerusalem and new settlements on the West Bank, this would be a diplomatic feat that will be very difficult if not next to impossible to pull off. All of these issues represent fresh grounds for conflict with the Trump administration's unilateralist wing.

Tasnim: Russian President Vladimir Putin told France's President-elect Emmanuel Macron on Monday he wanted to put mistrust aside and work with him. "In these conditions, it is especially important to overcome mutual mistrust and unite efforts to ensure international stability and security." What do you think? Do you believe Russian-French relation will change under Macron? Kindly explain.

Mason: De Gaulle always thought that France should try to retain its autonomy from conflict between the US and Russia. That being said, Macron will support both reinforcing NATO's presence along the EU's eastern frontiers with Russia and building up the EU's own military capacities both in terms of troop strength but also Command, Control and Communications capabilities independent of the US-NATO command. France will be a close partner with Merkel's Germany, which makes her a target not only of Russian cyber warfare and propaganda but also the Nationalist wing of the Trump administration which perceives Germany as a strategic threat and which like Putin would like to see the weakening of the European Union following Brexit. Both Putin's Military Intelligence service and internet trolls from the American Alt-Right were actively involved in trying to promote Marine Le Pen's candidacy. That strange alliance is indicative of what we may see in the future.

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