Friday, March 30, 2012

"Fractures françaises"

A book entitled Fractures françaises by a geographer named Christophe Guilluy is supposed to be the sensation of the campaign season, influential on the campaigns of both Sarkozy and, to a lesser extent, Hollande. And what is its message? That les classes populaires (les classes populaires de souche, s'entend, pas celles issues de l'immigration, bien sûr) are unhappy and that the key to victory is pandering to their concerns (about identity, immigration, jobs, globalization, Europe, etc.).

Listen up, people! The fracture sociale has been rediscovered with regularity in every election season since 1995. The political geographers are always leading the charge. But if any political analyst who looks at the polls for Le Pen and Mélenchon can't tell you that there is a large pool of disgruntled voters disgusted with both major parties and somewhat unmoored from traditional left-right loyalties, then he has to be blind. These are not revelations; they are truisms, which busy ministers enclosed in Parisian cocoons may forget between elections, but really, if they're paying attention, they haven't forgotten. Evidently the profession of political consultant is underdeveloped in France. There's a career opportunity here for an enterprising young person among the "periurban unemployed," whose mood matters for a few months every five years. (h/t Arun Kapil)


brent said...

A useful perspective--but I do wonder whether far-left and -right are really "somewhat unmoored from traditional left-right loyalties." Hasn't the Lepenist nativism been around long enough to be enshrined as part of the 'traditional' right, not exactly Gaullist perhaps but a big part of candidate Sarkozy's appeal last time and this? And isn't Mélenchon's appeal largely about recovering the social agenda abandoned by the PS in its centrist evolution of the last 25 years? Granted, LePen bis has added a new social wrinkle to her platform, and JLM is increasingly attaching red social policies to a green social vision ... but I wonder if the 'loyalties' they inspire aren't very much the same ones that have pertained for decades ...

Scaramanga said...

Interestingly, the book was published more than a year ago, in late 2010.
I haven't read it, but it seems to me that you are simplifying the book's argument. I remember reading that Guilly insists that all the immigrants are not located in the so-called ghettos - some of them are an integral part of this forgotten "third France."
I don't know, I've been several times in a small village of Burgundy, where one of my friends taught in comprehensive school. He told me that the children there had absolutely no hope of making it beyond the Brevet des collèges, and that more than half the population was living on les minima sociaux. And there were immigrants living there as well. In light of this (very limited) experience, Guilly's diagnosis seemed spot on to me.

bernard said...

- There's a career opportunity here for an enterprising young person among the "periurban unemployed," -

Fadela Amara has already been there and done that. Not that it made any difference though.

Incidentally Art, as of now, it's not "les classes populaires de souche", it's "les classes populaires d'apparence catholique".

Merlin said...

UMP and PS are clientelists. Their core constituency is the protected/insider middle classe. One part is "de gauche" the other "de droite". But they share the same need to milk the cow and feather their nest (but always complaining).

Les "Classes populaires" are the collateral damage of pandering to these middle classes, their desire for ultra liberalism in social matters and ultra protectionism as far as their job and perks are concerned. A mix of homosexual mariage and Apple iPad with bleeding heart for the "sans papiers" (preferably blacks).

You just have to walk through the streets in Paris Morth East to understand that the "social system" does not work, but it surely makes you feel warm.

Obviously it is easier to add 60000 jobs in your core constituency or to give tax relief on mortgages to your core constituency than to row back to a place where people are not priced out of jobs and their children are not considererd by the very same teachers that they are hopeless second rate citizens "pas au niveau".

Therefore I agree with you, election are the only time where these people draw attention from the politicians. More from rightwing than leftwing though. Leftwing politician are more attuned to the complaining of retired cheminots than of unemployed beurs who cannot even make the "concours de la fonction publique".