Friday, March 27, 2015

European Jews Are Not Leaving!

Diana Pinto offers a strong riposte to Jeffrey Goldberg's article in The Atlantic on the alleged panic of European Jews.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Raciste? Et alors?

It seems that pointing out the racist speech of certain FN candidates does not dissuade voters. I'm not sure why the Obs is surprised by this:
"Votre petit message méchant ne nous a pas touchés". Le texto est signéFrancis Boudrenghien, candidat FN à Anzin, dont "l'Obs" avait épinglé les propos sur les arabes "nique ta mère" dans son dossier sur le vrai visage des candidats FN. Le 22 mars, il a terminé en tête dans son canton du Nord avec 40% des voix ! Une vingtaine d'autres candidats figuraient dans notre enquête. Leurs dérapages racistes, antisémites ou xénophobes leurs ont-il porté préjudice ? Pas vraiment : sept des dix-huit candidats cités sont qualifiés pour le second tour.
As Nonna Mayer pointed out in the interview to which I linked yesterday, the answer to the survey question "Do you think there are too many foreigners?" in France is the best predictor of a pro-FN vote. When asked if they agree with this question "strongly, very much, somewhat, or not at all," the "not at all" answer gets 0 responses from FN voters--a rare thing in survey work.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Les Elections Départementales

Here's the map, FN in black (appropriately):

For an interactive version, click here. Now, the geography of départements where the FN finished first is the familiar geography of the FN, with strength in the Nord, northeast, and along the southeastern littoral as well as a strip along the Garonne. But this election, which saw the FN make it to the second round in 1100 cantons, confirms the geographic spread of the party beyond its traditional bastions. Its score is up 10 points since the previous cantonal elections, and this despite a lower-than-predicted abstention rate.

Nevertheless, the FN fell short of its predicted 30%. It may be that the polls are still over-correcting for a supposed "Bradley effect" due to an alleged reluctance of voters to admit that they're voting for a "pariah party." But the FN is no longer a pariah party, so the Bradley effect, if it ever existed, has presumably disappeared. Without knowing more about actual polling methods, it's therefore difficult to say whether the FN really underperformed, although there is no doubt that the party would have trumpeted its "number 1" position if its results had been better.

The real story of this election will be told next week, when we see how many UMP votes transfer to FN candidates in races where the UMP has been eliminated. I suspect the number will be substantial, despite Sarkozy's call for a "ni-ni" position.

The other story of this election is concrete confirmation of the left's fragmentation. There is no consolation in summing up the votes of parties identified as "left-wing," because there is no longer any unity on which the left's presidential candidate can count in 2017. Hollande and Valls have made their choice to go all-in with a "social-liberal" program, which in the best of worlds will lead ultimately to a party realignment. For the time being, however, the French political map has two large continental blocs (UMP, FN), a smaller island-nation across La Manche (the "Blairite" PS), a shrinking center, and an archipelago of islands basking in their own purity (EELV, NPA, etc.). With Sarkozy apparently once again in firm control of the UMP and a base more than unfriendly to Alain Juppé, the political contest will be an ugly rumble between the Sarkozites and the Le Penists to see who will be more successful at appealing to the primal fears and vengefulness of those voters who think that depriving schoolchildren of an alternative to a pork lunch is the best answer to the problems facing the country in the decade ahead.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the FN

Nonna Mayer, who has been studying the FN and its voter base for decades, has all the demographic data at her fingertips:

Nonna Mayer sur l'électorat FN by Mediapart

Sunday, March 22, 2015

First Results: UMP wins, FN falls short

According to France2, the UMP has 32%, while the PS and FN are both at around 25. Marine Le Pen's hope that these departmental elections would confirm the FN as the "no. 1 party" in France has been disappointed. The PS seems to have done much better than predicted.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Macron Explains His Law

I wish I had been there. According to Patrick Roger, Emmanuel Macron won over an initially hostile audience by sheer force of logic and persuasive power. I'd like to believe it, since I believe that reforms of the sort the Macron Law attempts are useful and necessary, although the law itself is too modest and unfocused in its ambitions and unlikely to achieve much. If it's a first step, however, it has to be defended, and apparently Macron defended it ably, although the journalist gives us no inkling of how he made his case. Since most pundits are assuring us that the electorate is in no mood to listen to rational explanations of policy and would prefer to vent its wrath by casting protest votes for the FN or the UMP, Macron's apparent success is an anomaly that calls for explanation.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Departmental Elections: Abstention Wins

Granted, departmental elections aren't the most exciting of political exercises, but with the Front National threatening to consolidate its position as "France's No. 1 Party," as they like to say, you'd think people would want to have their say about this. But the clear winner in next Sunday's election is--Abstention. 54% of voters will stay home, according to IFOP, and a whopping 74% of the under-35 set prefer "je m'en fous" to any flesh-and-blood candidate. Additionally, the FN has candidates in 95% of the races, while the UMP and PS manage to muster a candidate in fewer than 80%.

And yes, the FN is going to "win" and the PS is going to take a thumping.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

France's Loss of Influence in the EU

Jean Quatremer, a sharp observer of the EU scene, has a lot to say about France's loss of influence at the European level.

Aujourd’hui, l’indifférence de l’opinion publique se mue en hostilité de plus en plus violente, comme le montre la progression fulgurante du FN, une opinion à laquelle les partis traditionnels ont été incapables depuis toujours de parler d’Europe. Ou plutôt, lorsqu’ils en parlaient, c’était pour mieux expliquer qu’elle était une contrainte et que la France, seule, aurait fait mieux. Les générations passant, les politiques français n’ont plus eu à se battre pour l’Europe, mais l’on reçue en héritage. Désormais, sauf à quelques exceptions de plus en plus rares, elle est devenue un impensé. Ce désintérêt, cette hostilité se payent cash : l’influence française est en recul constant à Bruxelles et plus elle recule, moins la France se reconnaît dans ce projet qui fut le sien avant d’être celui de l’Allemagne, alimentant ainsi la spirale mortelle du FN. Depuis Jacques Delors, qui a quitté la présidence de la Commission en décembre 1994, et Jean-Claude Trichet, qui a pris sa retraite de la Banque centrale européenne fin 2011, les Français n’occupent plus de poste dirigeant au sein de l’Union en dehors du poste de commissaire, qui leur est garanti par les traités. Un symptôme et un symbole.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The FN in the Shipyards of Saint-Nazaire

It's one thing to read the statistics about the massive defection of working-class voters from the Left to the Front National. It's another to read about a handful of FN stalwarts leafleting at the gates of the Saint-Nazaire shipyards while a dozen CGTistes hand out Front de Gauche leaflets a few yards away. Yes, there were shouts of "facho!" and "coco!" flying back and forth at times, but, as Pascal said, les extrêmes se touchent. This was peaceful, on the whole, and these ship workers seem to resent the ecologists, who want to prohibit extension of the port, more than those on the other side of the left-right divide. There is no more culture de gauche. All that remains is a culture de ressentiment--against elites, Europe, the government, and the rich. It is the kind of terreau in which all sorts of things can grow.

Friday, March 6, 2015

CSA Polling on Départementales: Armageddon Can Wait

The CSA has released a poll on the forthcoming départementale election. The Front National, as expected, claims almost 30% of the vote, but the "governmental right" (including the UDI-MoDem and "divers droite" gets 35, and the combined forces of the left get 33. In addition, FN voters do not seem particularly mobilized or energized by Marine Le Pen's rising fortunes to turn out for this particular election. Of course, it's best not to read too much into these predictions. Will this be a high-water mark for the FN or another step towards Armageddon? When I started this blog, I rarely commented on polls. A futile exercise, I thought. I still do, but every once in a while one has to stick a finger in the wind. The hurricane doesn't seem to have begun yet.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

"Protection" and the Front National

The Front National has made the concept of "protection" (broader than mere protectionism) the key to its program. A good discussion here.