The French Don’t Know Their Place (In the Global Economy)

(…..) The real divide in this round was not between the left and right but between openness and closure. Sarkozy, Hollande, and François Bayrou (centrist candidate who received nine percent of the vote) all adhere to the idea that France benefits from globalization, even if they don’t say so, and are supportive of continuing the adventure of European integration. But the National Front’s Marine Le Pen and, to a lesser extent, the Left Front’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon represent “la France du non,” those voters who turned down the European constitution in 2005 and believe that the key to a better future is reasserting sovereignty. These voters feel that they have lost their country. For them, France has been taken over by immigrants at home, by Eurocrats in Brussels, by technocrats in the international institutions, and by financiers in the global markets. They would like to send a loud message against status quo. Only by acknowledging that the election in fact hung on the question of openness can one understand Pen’s extraordinary showing. Of course, she leads a party united by nationalism and anti-immigration sentiment. Scapegoating the “other”, especially if that other has North African origins or is Muslim, plays well among the fraction of the electorate she represents. And the massacres in Toulouse and Montauban last month, which saw a French-born radical Islamist of Algerian origin savagely murder soldiers and Jewish children, certainly served as a focal point and helped Le Pen at the polls. But her calls to halt immigration and give France back to the French were only a fraction of her platform. Even more than her father, Jean-Marie, who tried to broaden the National Front’s appeal with some success in 2002 election, Marine Le Pen focused her campaign on freeing France from outside pressures and constraints. She railed as much against Europe, ultraliberalism, and global markets as she did against immigrants. Indeed, the social makeup of her voters, young, with fewer chances at socioeconomic betterment than their parents, and working-class and retired people, resembles nothing so much as American Tea Partiers. In the runoff later this month, choice for French voters will come down to Nicolás Sarkozy and Hollande. And, as I argue below, that contest will not hinge on international economic policy, mostly because the candidates who offered a different vision on that front are now out of the running. In the next few weeks, Sarkozy and Hollande will try to avoid the uncomfortable truth that they are offering the same economic platform. In doing so, they will emphasize societal issues (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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