The change from below | Guardian daily comment | Guardian Unlimited For millions of European voters, the experience of governments identified with the left have in the past decade become increasingly indistinguishable from the authoritarian neoliberalism of the new right. In France, the retreat from social democracy has been more gradual, buttressed by the influence of the Communist party (one of the main political forces until the 1980s), strong social movements and the institutional gains of the postwar era. But just as 1979 was Britain's electoral crossroads, the 2007 presidential election threatens to do the same for France. The choice is between the populist free-market authoritarianism of Nicolas Sarkozy, the rightwing frontrunner, and the social Blairism of Ségolène Royal, the Socialist party candidate - with the threat of the far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen in the background. Whichever way you look at it, the right will stay in office in some form.
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