Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The State of Europe

I wrote a shamelessly speculative piece for The Tocqueville Review on the current state of Europe. You can read it here.

Ça chauffe à gauche

The defection of Manuel Valls has broken upon the simmering caldron of resentment that has been building in the Socialist Party since the primary. Macron continues to dominate Hamon in the polls, so the party's "reformist" wing, of which Valls is the leader, can invoke the voter utile alibi for abandoning the candidate who won their primary by a landslide. Disloyalty is one thing, but the specter of a repeat of 2002 is another. And yet Macron remains a deeply troubling candidate for many on the left, for reasons well described in this paywalled FT article:
"In 2010, he advised, for free, the staff of Le Monde when the newspaper was put up for sale. Journalists at the daily started doubting his loyalty when they happened upon him in conversation with Mr Minc, who was representing a bidding consortium that the staff opposed. They did not know that it was Mr Minc, a fellow Inspecteur des Finances, who had helped the young Mr Macron secure his interview at Rothschild.
A media executive who was part of the same consortium recalled: “It wasn’t clear who Emmanuel worked for. He was around, trading intelligence, friends with everyone. It was smart, because he got to know everybody in the media world.”
An open letter to Le Monde, signed by a number of intellectuals (including friends of mine), expresses the anger that has erupted on the left:

Nous avons toutes et tous cru – que nous ayons voté ou non à la primaire, que nous ayons soutenu ou non Benoît Hamon – que le jeu démocratique serait respecté. Naïfs que nous étions ! Aujourd’hui, vous opposez au choix des urnes au mieux un silence assourdissant ou une moue circonspecte, au pire un soutien à un autre candidat. Ce mépris total que vous opposez au vote citoyen est intolérable.
Pierre Laurent of the PCF has called for renewed discussions between Hamon and Mélenchon in view of joining their two campaigns.

In short, we are witnessing the breakdown of both mainstream parties. Long-buried cleavages in both the PS and LR have been exposed. Of course, the dynamic will be quite different in the legislative elections, but at the presidential level, the party system has completely broken down.