An American observer comments on French politics.
This would seem to answer your question from the previous post. Possibly Armageddon now. Definitely Armageddon soon.
@Mitch. Armageddon,the final battle between Good and Evil (F... me, not again !) where good doesn't stand a chance of course, therefore the end of the world. Why not say "Definitely the apocalypse soon ? Marine president, France out of the Euro first and out of Europe next. Moslems fleeing out of the country like boat people back to Libya... The others in camps of course. Germany preparing war against France possibly with the Brits... all this based on the polls for the Départementales in the Pas de Calais and a prime minister sounding the tocsin full blast to scare the children... May I ask for a little cold blood ? Or are you so convinced that history will repeat itself that you can't escape from the phantoms of the past ? The dramatic maps are misleading, you can't seriously compare regioanal, presidential and european elections !
@ MassilianI am saying that the picture is a graphic illustration of a trend that is undeniable. Unless Germany relents, the small successes of the FN are a harbinger of much worse to come. I am a newcomer to the study of French politics but even I can remember a time when the FN mattered hardly at all and then mostly as a source of crossover voters for the UMP.The FN presence at the local level was so negligible that it could hardly be measured. Between their status as pariahs of respectable politics and their paltry representation at all levels, there was at one point some genuine question about whether MLP could even get the 500 signatures necessary to get on the ballot in 2012. Now the question is who will win the fight to be in the second round with her.You are wrong about my worries about the phantoms of the past. For most of my life, I wasn’t worried at all. I believe that the phantoms had been buried and the demons of the extreme right were forever banished from mainstream politics. I believed that they had been exorcised by a Europe aghast at the horrors of the 20th century. More than anything else, the European project and the rise of the social welfare state represented a new hope that Europe had finally learned its lesson. But, as it turns out, nothing could have been further from the truth. Rather than learning from the mistakes of the past, Europe’s leaders have embraced every error and have celebrated every terrible milestone as they have marched along the path the lead to the Great Depression and two world wars. And, unsurprisingly, each step along that well trodden path has driven more people into the arms of the extreme right.Now, we are at another critical milestone. The response to the Greek election by the elites and the political has been a terrible mistake. It calls into question whether any change from neoliberalism can be had through democratic means. I think it is a legitimate question to ask whether the EU is still a collection of democratic states where the people rule or a state where the eurotrash and the political class represents a deeper state under a thin veneer of democracy. Mark my words: If the conventional parties will not act to provide the economic growth and the hope for a better future that the people desperately want, then the people will turn to whoever will promise those things. If the people conclude that elections become largely irrelevant as seems to be the case in Greece, you maybe sure that the 2017 version of this chart will be darker still. And the ominous storm clouds already forming over Europe will be that much darker, too.
@Mitch Much of you what you write in your final paragraphs is spot on. Democracy is being undermined by an over-privileged Brussels-fed political class deaf to the distortions their destructive economic policies have caused around Europe. The next generation (50#% unemployed in some states) is being criminally sacrificed to German demands. Now the nationalists are raising their heads and the EU's breakup is going to bitter, costly and devastating. Blame Brussels captured by bankers, global business lobbies and too many feather-bedding, low-calibre politicians.
@Mitch, thanks for your long and clear development. Yet for some possibly irrational reason, I don't believe we are heading straight into Armageddon. I suspect more and more people don't expect much from politicians UMPSFN all the same. Therefore except to express how fed up they are, they have no reason to more trust in the FN either. Somehow we have reached a limit of our western democratic system, here and elsewhere. It just doesn't work. Which doesn't mean totalitarian systems are any better, they failed, and they keep failing everywhere. We have to invent something new. My concern is that old men are stuttering and blind and (blame it on us) the youth is not ready to take over. Gramsci wrote somewhere : "The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born". But a crisis is not the end of the movie. I don't believe in pessimism to change things.
I bang on about this all the time with my French friends, but the very idea of the "Front Republicain" is untenable in an age when institutional power is crashing all around us. Propose something positive, not a "we are everything but this" rationalization that simply smacks of énarche elitism and maybe they will come. Generally speaking, even in negativiste France, people vote FOR a politician, not against an idea.
@ Alexandra Marshall "Propose something positive, not a "we are everything but this" rationalization that simply smacks of énarche elitism and maybe they will come. Generally speaking, even in negativiste France, people vote FOR a politician, not against an idea."=> I agree in full (and France is mostly negativist in talk, as a kind of wisdom; its rules re action are not negative and seldom cynical).That is what Valls and Juppé try to let emerge — confidence into some one ability to do something. But Valls is a "pur communicant", and Juppé may not be that representative of France in the XXIth century. We'll see listen to him, maybe he has something to propose. But… enarcho-elitism is the machine that pushed him where he is now.FN still has "un boulevard devant lui", doors wide open.
@ Alexandra Marshall,Whatever the validity of your statement in the past, I believe that the present political alignment suggests that people will be voting basically for whoever promises to save them and not as an expression of support for a politician or a party. For example, the internals of nearly all of the polls I’ve seen showing an increased likelihood that people will vote or would consider voting for MLP do not show a corresponding increase in her favorability rating. But the FN grows in strength, largely for the reasons given by in the comment by DavidinParis in the preceding post. As I’ve frequently said, this suggests to me that people are moving towards the FN out of desperation and not because they have a newfound appreciation of the merits of the héritiers of the Vichy regime. It is no secret that I consider the FN to be a party of monsters who “speak with forked tongue”. I believe that an MLP government would be an basically a replay of Vichy, with slicker public relations. But, as a practical matter, only the FN has moved away from its neoliberal principles and expressed, for example, a commitment to the social welfare and a willingness to confront Berlin over the economic policies that are destroying Europe. The FN’s “new ideas” are really the “old ideas” with which the left raised Europe and America from the depths of the Great Depression.There are plenty of new ideas out there; good ones, too. Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman has written books packed with ways to get end Europe’s depression. Thomas Piketty had some ideas in his book. Or you could just surf over to the website of the Fondation Jean Jaurès where they have lots of “think tank” papers brimming with what I think are some pretty good ideas.@ FrédéricLN,I do not think the problem with Valls is that he is a poor communicator. On the contrary, even I, with my difficulties with the French language, consider him to be a excellent orateur. I have watched him speak on the floor of the National Assembly and I think he is one of the best, most powerful speakers in the PS today. He is falling in popularity because he is advocating the unpopular ideas that got France in her current predicament.Although I have been critical of Juppé, it would be a mistake to underestimate him. I believe he would be the strongest candidate against Le Pen in the second round. And while I think he’s a bit of a blank slate in terms of economic policy and relations with Berlin, I think he’s positioned well to run basically the same campaign that Hollande ran against austerity and against Berlin. If he takes a strong stand and pulls France out of this depression, I think he will enshrine the UMP as the party of government (return it to that status, depending on your perspective) for the next several decades.
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The bordelais seem to love Juppé. I myself can't believe I'd be interested in someone who has already been to the dance and ended up convicted of corruption, because the unchanging cast of characters and general acceptance of corruption are two things I hate most about politics in this country. But he seems to me to be skating the right line between technocrat/statesman/reformer to be credible right now. @Mitch Guthman I think you and I mostly agree here. I mean, promises to save the people are at least a "positive" program, in the sense of positing something. When the PS and the UMP (please God don't let them call themselves "Republicains...) propose to band together against the FN, it's simply a negative point. People don't get excited about negatives in politics. They need to reach out for something that seems constructive, even if it's appallingly retrograde, like the FN's absurd non-program. All of my bobo PS French friends are very warm towards Juppé too, which also surprises me. I wonder what it is that people are finding reassuring. For me it's that he's talking reform (and here, Mitch, I'm more centrist than I think you are--I think there needs to be rationalization and some moves towards liberalism in France) but doesn't seem to be a racist or a homophobe. À suivre.
@ Mitch Guthman : yes for sure. Regarding Mr Valls, by "pur communicant", I did mean communication is his only profession and his major skill in politics. (I sometimes use inadequately French on this blog!). So we agree on this point.On "He is falling in popularity because he is advocating the unpopular ideas that got France in her current predicament", I am unsure. I would think he is falling in popularity because his wishful and strong tone is not followed up by strong acts and decisions. Inertia took over. That's not new in French Ministères, but I feel this degree of paralysis hadn't be experienced since centuries in French policies. And, as often discussed here, this is a very French issue: the Administration of all countries in Europe (excepted maybe Luxemburg?) took strong decisions since the 2008 crisis, not to mention the United States.But as another commenter wrote on this blog, French politicians are sure that the first of them who would move, would become the scapegoat and be fired by colleagues and voters together. None of those presently holding power, including UMP and PS, would take that risk.And esp. Mr Sarkozy would not! His astonishing move back on the "auto-entrepreneurs" ( http://www.slate.fr/story/99275/sarkozy-auto-entrepreneur ), i.e. on the only substantial change he brought in micro-economics (a change that worked well and is fully supported according to opinion polls), suggests he has chosen conservatism as cornerstone of his policy design.
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