Skip to comments.French malaise
Posted on 04/21/2002 5:06:45 PM PDT by Pokey78
THIS is a bad time to be a Frenchman. By putting the anti-immigrant demagogue Jean-Marie Le Pen into the second round of their presidential election, French voters will have horrified their EU partners. For the election of "unacceptable" parties at national level has now become a European affair.
France, remember, led the EU in demanding sanctions against Austria when Jorg Haider, like M Le Pen yesterday, came second in an election. In doing so, it sowed dragon's teeth which may be about to spring forth as fully armed hoplites. If there is anything positive to be said about last night's result, it is that there is pleasing irony in all this.
For make no mistake: M Le Pen is a venomous racist. Sheer longevity has softened his image. Like Tony Benn or Ian Paisley, he has appeared less shocking as he has grown older. In this, his fourth attempt at the Elysee, he played down the anti-foreigner rhetoric, concentrating instead on social issues and, above all, on crime. But his views have not changed.
He is the heir to a nasty, authoritarian tradition on the French Right, one that has no real equivalent in British politics: the tradition of the anti-Dreyfusards, of Charles Maurras and the Action Franaise, of Vichy. This philosophy has little in common with mainstream French Gaullism, and even less with the free-market conservative movements of other Continental states. It draws its support from small farmers and shopkeepers, stresses the importance of order and discipline, and appeals to fears rather than hopes. Its last large-scale irruption into the French polity came with the Poujadistes, among whom was a young M Le Pen.
The Front National's success reflects a deep-seated resentment against the two big parties, which seemed to be offering the same blend of corporatist Euro-correctness. Lionel Jospin, in particular, seemed not to have grasped the way in which public opinion changed after September 11. Fears about crime and immigration were kept constantly in the news by a series of anti-Semitic attacks by French Muslims. Yet the mainstream candidates made no real attempt to address these concerns. They made the mistake of treating M Le Pen as beneath contempt, so ensuring that he was the only politician positioned to benefit from voter unease.
With no Left-wing candidate, the coming weeks promise the gruesomely entertaining spectacle of M Chirac and M Le Pen scrabbling for socialist votes. For, in truth, the two arch-enemies have more in common with each other than either would like to admit. M Chirac sees himself as a quintessential Frenchman, campaigning with the full dignity of his office; M Le Pen as the eternal outsider. In reality, though, they are both politicians to their fingertips, adept at saying whatever the voters want to hear. Since the voters do not appear to care very much for what any politicians have said so far, we can expect some unedifying contortions from them both.
France did that because of the Chirac people's fear of the Front National.
Gee, Telegraph, has there ever been a good time to be a Frenchman? Never in history has there been a culture so impressed with itself for so little reason. True, they can whip up a tasty plate of grub (if you're not too squeamish about the ingredients), but that's a pretty weak foundation to build a reputation on.
With all the legitimate reasons for trashing France, focusing on who finishes second in a race seems a mite silly. One gets the feeling that they wouldn't feel alarmed in the least if the Communists finished second. Le Pen won't come close to prevailing in the runoff; I'm guessing Chirac will win by something like 70-30. The real danger is that the leftists will attempt to take credit for Chirac's win, and demand cabinet positions and legislative concessions.
And the electorate becomes increasingly frustrated with platitudes and broken promises (something for which Chirac has become well-known) and in their frustration turn to any alternative, if only to make a protest vote. We'll see what happens in the second round.
This is bad?
Remember. EU is pronounced: "eeewwwww"
PARIS (Reuters) - Demonstrators took to the streets of Paris and a clutch of French cities late on Sunday in protest at the shock triumph of far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of presidential elections. Reuters correspondents said up to 10,000 protesters, many of them young leftists, filled the boulevard linking Place de la Bastille and Place de la Republique in the capital after Le Pen won through to a May 5 runoff against President Jacques Chirac. About 2,000 demonstrators sat on the cobblestones in Place de la Concorde, banging litter bins like drums and holding banners that read: "Le Pen. Shame." Marchers also massed in Lille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Grenoble and Strasbourg, where about 4,000 demonstrators shouted "Le Pen, you're finished. The French are on the streets" and "Fascism shall not pass." There were no immediate reports of disturbances. In Paris, police said they had blocked a group of protestors who were trying to march on the Elysee presidential palace. Le Pen, the 73-year-old leader of the anti-immigrant, anti-Europe National Front party, pushed Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin into third place in the contest. Jospin announced on Sunday that he would quit politics after the runoff, which polling institutes now forecast Chirac, a conservative, will win by a landslide. Several of the demonstrations played on corruption allegations that have swirled around Chirac. "Vote sleaze, not fascist," protestors shouted in the northern city of Lille. Le Pen, who once called the Holocaust a detail of history, played down some of his more extreme rhetoric during the campaign, which he focused on law and order in a response to widespread public concern over rising crime. He dismissed the fascist label some of his opponents have given him in remarks on French television. "I have nothing to do with fascism," Le Pen said. "Fascism is protesting the result of a vote violently in the street."
Well, it seems silly to us, but we have a winner-take-all system. In France, second place actually does mean something- a shot at the runoff. And while I agree that Le Pen probably won't win, I can hope. And no one expected him to get this far, which has caused a seed of fear to be planted in the socialists' hearts: he did it once; what if, just what if, he does it again?
This statement is an outrage.
Francois Mitterand, the patron saint of French Communists, WAS a Vichy collaborationist Stiefel-licking surrender monkey; no such charge could be leveled at Le Pen by any journalist with a nanogram of integrity.
If that is true and therefore a concern for France, doesn't the same hold true for the USA? Government forced assimilation and by that I mean accelerated liberal immigration policies, is dangerous regardless of in which country it takes place.
So what is so different from that and what we have here?
Oh, I think the FAR more entertaining spectacle will be watching the angry sputtering socialists forced to choose one of these two men!
Fears about crime and immigration were kept constantly in the news by a series of anti-Semitic attacks by French Muslims. Yet the mainstream candidates made no real attempt to address these concerns.
That's because they're as anti-Semitic as the Muslims, and they worship the Muslims because they consider them to be "oppressed." Like most EUnuchcrat socialist elitist governments, they have almost nothing in common with the beliefs and desires of the average voter. And they're finally starting to pay the price.
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