Home > General > Perfidious Gaul

Perfidious Gaul

This has been quite a year politically, hasn’t it? Throughout the West the established political order has been challenged and undermined. In Germany the stale coalition system has effectively been turned on its head. Baden-Württemberg has a Greens-led coalition with the CDU as junior coalition partner. Rheinland-Pfalz has a “traffic light” coalition – Red/Yellow/Green. In the former DDR the AfD have been winning over 20pc in most states, even hard-left Berlin gave them over 14pc of its votes. In spring there will be another key state election in Nordrhein-Westfalen. It is the largest state in terms of population and it is the state with the largest population, the state with the most sink estates as well as the largest dumping-ground for “refugees”. Years of failed social experiments have left much of its urban Ruhrgebiet fractured and tense – more Luton or Tower Hamlets than fabled Alpine village.

France has, for its part, reminded us that it is more than capable of political surprises. That Hollande is doomed is obvious. He is at least as popular as a case of the clap, perhaps slightly less so… Marine Le Pen is vastly more astute than her father and is a far more serious challenge for established parties. Yet, even established parties are not quite as predictable as they once were. Les Républicains, barring a highly unlikely turn in fortunes, have rejected the media’s favoured candidate, Alain Juppé. Sarkozy was never a likely challenger. His great achievement was becoming the most reviled president in France’s history. Until Hollande bested him. He was so to speak, as popular as herpes. No, it seems as if La République will choose another François, this time of the Fillon variety.

I’m pleasantly surprised. No, really! His political hero is Thatcher, his wife is Welsh and by all accounts he is fonder of Britain than most in France’s political establishment. He’s also a staunch supporter of a “Europe of the Nations”, not a federalised system advocated by Juppé and Merkel. His political realism matches his firm grasp of economics. This is highly unusual in Europe, certainly France more than most. His social conservatism reflects a side of France – one that many in Paris/ Île-de-France and Western elite circles routinely fail to appreciate. France is largely a deeply conservative, even suspicious, country. Paris and Lyon embraced social democracy of a sort, and much of France went along with it but outside a few urban centres it never truly took hold. Well, at least it didn’t take hold in the cultural sense.

I wish Fillon well. If he lives up to his reputation Europe could well take a different path. Merkel is a spent political force. She’ll be returned only because of the quirks of Germany’s electoral system. She’ll have her worst result, but so will the SPD. Together they’ll be lucky to form another “grand coalition” with a working majority. This is a profound change in fortunes for political parties that have taken turns ruling post-war Germany. Germany’s economic and social troubles are bubbling to the surface so a fourth Merkel government won’t hold as much clout. Juncker is really the last of the federalist “big beasts” and his troubles are only growing. France could well be the country that undermined the centralising trend that its politicians started.

Advertisements
Categories: General
  1. November 24, 2016 at 10:33 am

    So Martin Schulz has decided to return to national politics after all. Sigmar Gabriel is no prize so he has a good chance of leading the SPD in the next election. Based on his comments, that is, that “much trust has been lost in Europe” it could well be a case of rats fleeing a sinking ship. I doubt, however, that he will do much better than Gabriel or any other figure in the SPD. People overwhelmingly think that politicians are out of touch in Germany — decades of experience in EU politics doesn’t do much to convince that he is any less out-of-touch than the rabble in Berlin.

  2. November 24, 2016 at 10:51 am

    So Brexit may not be so much a clash of ideologies as a painful first admission of necessary changes in Europe; to the accompaniment of hurt pride among the federalists and confusion among the rest.

  3. November 24, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Janus: Yes, very much that. “Europe” worked so long as things were placid and uneventful. Finland’s problems with corruption evaporated, Romania and Bulgaria at least had to pretend to work on endemic sleaze, the Poles and Baltic States no longer felt so isolated, Southern Europe had a credible currency for the first time in generations, etc. Imbalances have simply grown too extreme and there are no more practical solutions. No one has the money to pay for the other’s debts. Greece exhausted the good-will of the continent’s electors and it is tiny. What happens when Italy breaks? What happens when France goes under? Worst of all, what happens when it’s revealed that Germany’s treasury is not only empty, but dusty and covered in cobwebs? Even the Eastern States are suffering as they’re bleeding population. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are starved for young talent. Poland is terrified by its population loss. National treasuries are blanched because the people they need the post head to Western Europe where, increasingly, the sheer size of the influx was undermined social cohesion. Bulgaria and Romania are on the brink of collapse because they’ve lost so many people. They stay afloat because of remittances, but that is no way to survive.

  4. November 24, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    PS C, given our anon status here, maybe you already have a column in a mag or paper. If not, you should!

  5. November 24, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Janus: It’s the quality, not the quantity that counts. Just don’t tell Backside, he might get a big second head.

  6. November 25, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Backside is the embodiment of many shortcomings but don’t tell him I said so.

  7. christinaosborne
    November 25, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    never heard of this Fillon chap, sounds interesting, thanks for the info.

  8. November 25, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    CO: So far he’s called for an end to political correctness, quotas on migration and the devolution of powers form Brussels to national capitals. He also wants to shed at least 500,000 bureaucrats and cut both taxes and regulation.

  9. November 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Allons, enfants!

  10. christinaosborne
    November 25, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Just one more country fed up with paying tor the free loaders! Good on him, hope he gets in!
    About time the governments of countries see that their populations are sick to death of paying for free loaders in any way, shape or form. If they don’t do something about it, in due course, the people will. Back to gas ovens and the like! Nobody needs that, so they really do need to do something now whilst things are still comparatively civilised.

  11. November 25, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Janus: Is Backside getting cheeky again?

    CO: Despite their reputation, French private sector workers are actually extremely productive and diligent. France’s industries are generally of a very high quality and its products are among the world’s best. Their problems stem from Mitterand’s socialist policies and bureaucratisation of much of the economy. The country has changed a great deal in recent decades — rarely for the better — and people have had enough of it. Fillon seems to have grasped this. After all, the chances are that it will be Fillon or Le Pen.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Add your Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: