Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Geert Wilders does not want to be Dutch Prime Minister and President Le Pen is a very long shot

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'It is not that France has become Le Penist, reality has become Le Penist.' 
Elisabeth Levy, the French feminist writer
'I said the evening of Trump’s election that this is not the end of the world, it’s the end of a world. The EU world is ultra-liberalism, savage globalisation, artificially created across nations. I believe that this world is dead.' 
Marine Le Pen

A lot of things that should be obvious are not obvious to people who write for what used to be called the papers and are now called the mainstream media.

For example, Geert Wilders has no chance of being Dutch Prime Minister after today's election. This is because the Dutch constitution is designed to prevent rule by one party. 

Just to make it sure it doesn't happen he has gone out of his way recently, for example by referring to 'Moroccan scum' (he explained that he meant criminals who were Moroccan and not Moroccans in general, but it sounded very extreme), to ensure that almost all of the other parties pledged not to ally with him. 

He does not want the cares of office, which would destroy his career, at this stage at least. He naturally wants to change the political discourse from the opposition.

This was all Marine Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, ever wanted. His daughter, on the other hand, wants power. 


All the cards are falling her way since the Socialists chose a left-wing extremist as their candidate and the Republican candidate François Fillon's campaign became hopeless. Still, I am pretty sure she won't win, even though I expect a terrorist attack designed to help her win.

I wonder how much she wants to win now. She is aiming at winning in five years' time and I expect that she or someone like her will.

Le Monde, in an editorial in November, said:
'She [Marine Le Pen] shares the same obsessions [as her father]: those of an organic nation on the point of sinking because it is gnawed away at by an internal evil – immigration – threatened by an external enemy – Europe – and betrayed by its elites.' 
Le Monde meant this as a denunciation of Marine Le Pen but I do not see that these three 'obsessions' are far off the mark. I think that these are the three things that have threatened Great Britain, at least since the end of the Cold War. 

I think they threaten every country in Western Europe, but the EU is a lesser threat to continental Europe than to Britain, partly because the E.U. is designed by continental Europeans, heavily influenced by civil law, the principle of positive freedoms and Christian Democracy, and not by empirical, bolshy, anomaly-cherishing Anglo-Saxons. 

In Eastern Europe, for reasons that are easily understood by anyone who lives here, people prefer rule by foreign elites in Brussels and Berlin to rule by their own political elites, though this is changing in Poland and Hungary.

I asked a canny Romanian friend why Romanian governments never kick back against the E.U. leadership. He said, 

That's not our way. Our way is to smile and smile and then suddenly say 'Good-bye'.

Why do I not expect Marine Le Pen to win this time? Partly because she has made her candidature about France leaving the E.U. And I doubt if France, unlike Britain, is ready to do so.

For the French, Europe is where they live, not somewhere across the water. The European Union was invented partly by Frenchmen to prevent wars that were fought on French soil. It is a sort of substitute for the Napoleonic empire. 

It is really dominated by Germany but the Germans, whose great aim is to avoid ruling Europe, sedulously pretend that France and Germany are equal co-rulers.

Donald Trump has shown the French that populists can win power but he has horrified most Frenchmen, including the ones who like the Front National (F.N.) They don't like Americans much at the best of times and he is exactly the kind of American they don't like.

And, though the E.U. has certainly been bad for the French economy, could France, the sick man of Europe, flourish alone? 

How many really believe it? At least without Thatcherite reforms of the sort that Francois Fillon wants and Mlle. Le Pen does not?

I see no evidence that the F.N. has ever been fascist, much less neo-Nazi, or that its commitment to democracy was ever insincere, unlike fascist groups in 1970s Italy. The F.N's origins lie not with the Petainists and collaborators of the Second World War but with the pieds-noirs (white settlers in Algeria) and the soldiers who fought to keep Algeria French (including Lieutenant J.-M. Le Pen), though they also draw from a tradition that includes monarchists and Catholic nostalgists. 

The F.N. is, however, corporatist, which I consider a bad thing. I very much dislike its protectionism. I think its economic policies have become socialist, though its economic policies are a side-show. They are there to win left-wing and ex-Communist votes for policies to restore French independence and stop immigration. 

It is hard to see how the E.U. could survive President Le Pen in the long term and this worries me, because I still don't want the EU to split up. Or at least, not in a disorderly way. 

But I do want it to be replaced by something very different, reduced to being simply the Single Market. I'd like a big bonfire of regulations and laws. 

A break up of the EU, though, may be inevitable. Will it exist in five years' time when Marine Le Pen stands for election again?

The F.N.'s immigration policy of just taking 10,000 people a year horrified Britain's UKIP - they said it was "a million miles" from their points-based immigration policy. It could not be implemented without leaving the EU, which is a F.N. policy which would require a change to the French constitution and the approval of both chambers of the parliament. 

At the moment the F.N. has two representatives in each chamber. Though stranger things have happened, a landslide victory for the F.N. in this summer's parliamentary election seems incredible. 

But even such an astonishing, revolutionary election victory (it would make the Popular Front victory in 1936 look like very small beer) simply wouldn't work without a change of mind among a part of the elite

Look at how little the Labour governments in England in the 1920s achieved, because (o happy age!) there were no effective socialists in the political class. 

Emmanuel Macron, former senior civil servant and investment banker, quintessential globalist, Europhile and believer in the advantages of immigration, will very probably win.

Quel ennui, as the French say.

I am convinced that he will disappoint most of the French, though he might please part of the French political elite, the pays legal, as the very limited electorate was called in Restoration France. 

The pays real, the ordinary French electors, or many of them, would probably like a reasonable, anti-immigration (but not anti-immigrant) and possibly Eurosceptic party, in favour of globalisation but opposed to globalism. In other words, a genuinely conservative party. 

It will be very interesting to see if French intellectuals and politicians can adapt to the changed reality of France, eight and a half years after the financial crisis began in 2008 and after several massacres. They will not do so as easily as ordinary people are doing. 

Breaking news: an exit poll shows Wilders has made an advance on his showing last time and is in joint second place, well behind the ruling People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (the Dutch Conservative-Liberals). This is considered a defeat for him and a big victory for everyone else. 


7 comments:

  1. From the USA, thanks for the interesting perspective. Don't see this kinda stuff here.

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  2. Having grown up in communist Romania I systematically err by thinking that people just fake allegiance and belief in the official/dominant way of thinking. A huge surprise for me after Trump's election was not so much his election but the dogged opposition to him it triggered. I'm not talking about the "mainstream media"'s opposition, but the genuine hostility one perceives in common people across Western Europe. I was shocked to discover that the allegiance to the leftist political correctness and the tenets of multiculturalism are really felt and not faked in Western Europe and on the two coasts of the USA.

    All this to say that leftism, even more radical that the "usual" one, is real and deeply anchored in France. I suppose the only real "conservatives" are the demographically feeble farmers. I'm not sure about the urban self-employed and what the Germans would call "Mittelstand", the family-run businesses. Look at whom the socialist grass-roots supporters chose for presidential candidate: One of the most radical in the spectrum, someone of the Syriza/Podemos crop. People on the left are full of bile against Valls or Macron, saying that they don't see what's socialist in their programme. Not being left is a sort of insult or a character shortcoming.

    So I think that people in France wanting a genuinely conservative party is just wishful thinking. At the end of the day, from what I gather from the political discussions with my French colleagues, their voting is not so much ideological but changing according to circumstances (read scandals) and very much dependent on the personalities of the candidates.

    P.S. Divorced women, such as Mme Le Pen, are not "Mlle" but "Mme" even if they use their maiden name.

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    1. I agree that people's thinking has changed so much - as it always does - in thirty years and in a socially liberal direction. People like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thinking changed economics but the culture continued to move left. MT said, 'Economics is only the method. The aim is to change people's souls.' She did this as far as self reliance and economics were concerned but in most other respects the left made huge advances. For example and crucially, they extended their takeover of academia and schoolmastering.

      It's depressing if there are so few conservatives left except here in Eastern Europe, but perhaps Donald Trump and Steve Brannon will make a difference.

      On the net I find Marine Le Pen called Mlle. and Mme. Le Pen.

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    2. Hmm; no doubt that millennials have been imbued with the cooked up, simplified and well packaged left propaganda, and they are very passionate, since they do not have to pay bills. There are 2 aspects to this surprising 'allegiance' I think: 1. If you move around people employed by 'multinational' companies, you cannot fail to grasp that these companies very much resemble small totalitarian states, populated by the above mentioned college grads: I noticed that the more bureaucratic one's job is, the higher the allegiance to the left ideas. For these people, the far left mentality is proven to be working in the context of their respective company, until they are lay'ed off. 2. Europe is a lot more socialist than the US, so the reality grind is much attenuated by the better welfare services. My observation from here in the US, where the 'multinational' employment has diminished due to outsourcing, people's allegiance quickly changes once they cannot find jobs in the cozy multinationals/large companies, since welfare is still quite dismal. The West seems to follow the same cul-de-sac direction of the Communist block. The blind allegiance may also be explained by the fact that there is no 'live' counter-example in the world today, the way we used to have when we were growing up, the counter-example of the rich and free 'West' .

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  3. This is a good analysis. the only piece lacking is the machinations of Erdogan to try to manipulate the Europeans in continuing to kowtow to him with his denunciations of their islamophobia. the spine shown by rutte, necessary to secure a win in the Durch elections, will offend Erdogan. better if it inspires others to move right on policies of immigration, integration, and multiculturalism.

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  4. Interesting
    I think the interest in Macron is that he doesn't come from any party. Less boring than the others.
    He happens to be in the center which is better than extremes.
    Alain

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