Faced with an unappetising choice between the unprincipled energy-spray of Sarkozy, and the fiscal, economic and social lunacy of Socialist FranÃ§ois Hollande, the French chose, well, lunacy. With a side order of their own brand of Fortress France, Marine Le Pen.
As The Economist points out,
It says something about the state of denial in France that the one candidate, the centrist FranÃ§ois Bayrou, who warned voters that they were in for some tough choices and hard times, took a miserable fifth place.
Basically, the French have put everything that matters into the too-hard basket.
A vote for Hollande – who won with about 28% of the first round vote to Sarkozy’s 26% – was seen as anti-Sarkozy. But it was also a vote for:
- increasing the top income tax rate to 75%
- reversing increases in the retirement age
- expanding state payrolls, including 60,000 more teachers
- more confrontation with “the markets” and “Anglo-Saxon capitalism”.
Daniel Hannan in the UK Telegraph makes the point that the French electorate is dominated by fear and stasis:
[…] immobilisme, a word which originally meant the failure of governments in the Third and Fourth Republics to change anything.
In those days, immobilisme was supposed to be a product of the electoral system. Now, it reflects the mood of the nation. Most French electors are, in a sense, casting ‘votes blancs’. Few are voting in the expectation of a better tomorrow. The chief appeal during the second round will be ‘Vote to stop X!’ rather than ‘Vote for Y!’ The ballots cast will be preventative ballots, pessimistic ballots, grumpy ballots, ballots cast with a disdainful Gallic shrug and a scornful exhalation.
In embracing fear and stasis in general, a retreat to 1960s fantasies about what government can deliver and the evils of capitalism, or to an unsustainable Fortress France, the French have done everything they can to ensure their nation’s failure.
Like the spirit of the Greens in this country, as a nation they seem to believe they can regulate and fantasise their way to personal security – and that it is the government’s responsibility to change the nature of human existence to make it so.
It was a poor choice for the French voter: wherever you turn there is a candidate spruiking bigger spending and more restrictions on the economy, and greater intervention to “protect Europe”.
But in Hollande they have a shot of retro-steroids that will take France backwards in a bigger and faster way than previously imaginable.
If the French vote for Hollande, they deserve what they get. The only problem is, all Europe may end up getting what the French deserve.