”Apres moi, le deluge!” – After me, the deluge. So said French king Louis XV, and was he ever right. His successor faced the French Revolution and lost his head.

Much the same can be said of France’s outgoing president, Nicholas Sarkozy. The victory of his Socialist rival Francois Holland in last week’s presidential election not only eclipsed the political career of the widely unloved Sarkozy, it left his clumsily-named political party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), facing its own deluge.

As Europe’s conservatives watch in dismay and even horror, the second big shoe is about to drop in French politics. Far rightist Marine Le Pen appears set to emerge triumphant from the wreckage of Frances defeated center-right.

France holds two-round elections for its lower house, the National Assembly, on 10 and 17 June. Polls show Holland’s Socialists and their leftwing allies winning some 44% of the seats; the center-right UMP 36.5%. The Left already controls the upper house, the Senate.

Control of both houses would allow Holland’s Socialists to implement their vows to impose punitive taxes on the wealthy, hire 60,000 teachers (all Socialist stalwarts, of course), reject the EU austerity pact, boost spending and return the minimum retirement age to 60 from 62.

Meanwhile, the UMP faces questions of life and death. The party was cobbled together from four center-right parties made up of Gaullists, Liberal Gaullists, Liberal Radicals, and Christian Conservatives.

Sarkozy, made giddy by the pomp and power of the royal presidency created for Charles De Gaulle, long neglected party affairs, choosing to run France like Louis XV. As a result, the party became a squabbling collection of egos without any core philosophy or direction.

The June election could inflict the “coup de grace” on the floundering UMP. Not only could it be swamped by the Socialists, it must face a Faustian existential choice.

France’s electoral laws mirror the complex nature of its people. Nothing is simple or straightforward. Assembly elections will be a three-way race between Socialists, UMP, and Le Pen’s far right National Front.

With the Socialists holding a strong lead, UMP and National Front risk splitting the center-right vote. So electoral logic demands that they collaborate in many voting districts and agree to support a common candidate.

But the National Front – xenophobic, racist, violently anti-Muslim, and anti-Europe – is poison to moderate French and many members of the UMP. To no surprise, UMP may split, or disintegrate, over the issue of joining forces with the National Front, seen by many French as a reborn fascist movement. In fact, it’s not really fascist, but an avatar of the old 1940 far right, ultra conservative, ultra Catholic Vichy movement.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen is clearly calculating that June elections will see the UMP crushed. This, in turn, may lead to massive defections of former UMP deputies to the National Front. Meaning that the National Front could become Frances official opposition to the ruling Socialists.

Talk about déjà vu. Such a sweeping change would return France to its pre-war political landscape, when hard Left and hard Right were locked in bitter confrontation. Marine Le Pen could well emerge as the angry voice of many Europeans – a prospect that causes shudders across conservative-ruled Europe.

She could also prove the nemesis of the European Union. Le Pen has vowed to oppose austerity pacts, quit the Euro, restore the franc, and follow economic mercantilism. Her anti-EU, anti-free trade policies are attracting many people across Europe and even in Russia.

Fortunately, Francois Holland could prove a counter-balance to the ascendant Right. He is a moderate, cautious centrist politician given to pragmatism rather than ideology. His popularity and image of geniality and caring about people will help him withstand the forces of both Left and Right trying to pull him in different directions.

Even so, Marine Le Pen and her aggressive rightists are likely to become an ever-increasing threat to the French Republic as economic conditions worsen. It seems only a matter of time before fascism rears its head again in Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Greece is already on the way. Failure to implement austerity plans will bring economic convulsions and with them the bully boys in black.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2012

This post is in: Uncategorized

9 Responses to “France: The Hard Right On The March”

  1. To Saeed Qazi:The sad reality is this is more about “playing a good game” than a “battle”
    Why is it easier to believe that 150,000,000 Americans are being lazy rather than 400 Americans are being greedy?
    Everybody’s out fighting in the street because we can’t make opinions about One God mete

  2. Saeed Qazi says:

    Mr Eric
    You have not taken into account the radical left which also got votes in double figure after three decades.
    Rolling back European Union may not be that easy as the hard right claims. Secondly, we all know Holland cannot keep the voters and the elite happy at the same time. Like Obama his preferences will soon be quite obvious. His success would depends on how much room has been left for reforms in capitalism. Apparently it seems there is hardly any.
    Lets not write off the hard left (Melenchon) altogether. The next battle had to fought between the hard right and the hard left and all that would depend upon how the ailing capitalism fares. We have once again entered into interesting times

  3. JEOutram says:

    The prospect you outline Eric is dismal and negates the lives of all the service people and civilians who died in Europe fighting the black-shirts during the 20th century. One mitigating factor for this century is that Europe is not the centre of the universe any longer. The EU may self destruct as a failed concept but a better model of governance may grow out of the ashes. The impetus to create a working system for such a large economic block will likely come from the east; Russia, China, India and even the Islamic States as Europeans realize they cannot live in small geographic entities and retain their dignity as free people. Even if a fascist government controls Spain, France, Germany and Italy it will not be allowed to threaten the world as did the Nazis. That is not to say living in Europe under Fascists would be pleasant for many people. Maybe Europe will become a huge Disney land for Chinese tourists where the trains continue to run on time but not much else of importance to the world happens.

  4. If I say that the predictions outlined above don’t scare me, I will be laying.
    The internet opened the world to us, making it easy for each of the “little people” to follow world politics as it plays its moves and “up to the minute.” People like Eric Margolis explain a few moves and bang, I know what is going on and don’t know how to deal with it. How can I complain if I don’t know which way people should go?
    A lot of desperate people with grim faces facing each other, led by “bully boys in black”, is something that I was hopping not to see in this life time.

  5. And Faustian the UMP party`s choices will be, just like the party itself having the devil as its patron-saint.
    Marine LePen is a fascist wolf in sheepskin, dyed in the wool by her father, who also was an eugenicist among a few other negative characteristics. She would have perfectly blended in with Hitler and his ideologues.
    They, her and her ilk, suffer from delusions of grandeur and want to turn the clock back to their colonial times.
    I witnessed the coming to power of Adolf Hitler and the consequences of his dictatorship. I can`t help but wonder, where all that big capital comes from this time, that is the scheming force behind the ills, that causes so many problems in Europe today. It all smacks of outside interference on a grand scale.Germany is still paying for the mistakes of that era. Is France now supposed to become the next victim? Maybe I am too cynical, but after I watched that video, that lasted for more than 215 minutes and which came up, when I googled for ‘international bankers’ one day and clicked on the first video on the menu, I had the best history lesson of my life. That video made all historical facts, that I learned over the years, come into focus and started making logical sense. And even though that video was overpowering, I still viewed it with scepticism, because the revelations were so bold and daring. The European theater of today seems to be ‘tailor’-made for the grand scheme of things. It also clearly shows the complicity of the religions in it. Religion is just a tool of the elites to manipulate the masses. As I have said before, the symbiotic relationship between politics and religion is the prime example of Faustianism.

    • Some Canadian says:

      It’s been a while since I’ve seen you around.

      One thing about religion: It is not “just a tool of the elites to manipulate the masses”. A lot of the Asian religions are non-violent in nature and rarely used by the state. When is the last time a noble/despot uses Confucianism to control people?

      Certainly, there are other elements involved in what I believe you are referring to. And in those cases, factors like promotion of self-importance and exclusivity come into play as well.

  6. As much as I don’t like Sarkozy,primarily because of his parroted foreign policies,I feel the austerity measures that were implemented were a necessity for France’s (and the EU’s) economic survival.Austerity measures are never popular and never fair (rightfully so,as the economic messes were created by self serving politicians decades ago and have now snowballed out of control).But someone has to budge,to allow the debt ridden economies to recover.This is no time for selfishness and finger pointing as the entire future of the younger generation is at stake here.And we cannot just ignore this and continue business as usual.

    It would be nice to go back in time and hang all these irresponsible self serving political leaders who allowed this mess to happen.But that can’t happen.I’m afraid the once economical powerhouse,France,is going down the same road as Greece has been.The past elections have showed this and the return of the Franc is almost a certainty at this point.I would not want to be in Angela Merkel’s shoes right now….not for all the DMs left in the world.Just a little necessary sarcasm!

    • Some Canadian says:

      IMO, Francois Hollande is not necessarily saviour of France. He got a free ride in the election campaign because of Sarkozy’s net-negative publicity. Whether or not he’s a good administrator and politician, it remains to be seen.

      Also, aside from Sarkozy’s anti-immigration policies, what’s so bad about him? Obviously, he spear-headed the Libyan war, but a lot of Europeans (and Americans) liked that. This is not to say he is a good president, but it’s just that I don’t keep up with European politics.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.