Politicians braced for backlash as Europe turns against austerity. At the end of last month, 5,000 people marched through Dublin to protest against the imposition of a €100 (£80) household tax that the Irish government was already struggling to collect from voters sick of austerity measures imposed on a stagnating economy.
It was a small demonstration by the standards of some that have taken place across Europe in recent months – in places such as Syntagma Square in Athens, or in Spanish cities during the general strike that took place just before the Dublin protest – but numbers on the streets are not everything these days. As polls in Ireland revealed last week, support for the coalition government's policies is collapsing, while backing for Sinn Féin – which is calling for a "no" vote in next month's referendum on the EU fiscal compact that would bind member states other than the UK, which opted out, to budget deficits of 3% or less in perpetuity – has propelled it into the rank of Ireland's second most popular party after Fine Gael.
HISTORY: How did they occupy this place in French society? POLITICS: why they haven’t been stopped. France’s electoral hangover. 0EmailShare France went to sleep last night knowing that almost a fifth of those who felt compelled to vote in the first round of the presidential election chose a party formed on an openly neo-fascist platform.
Although the Front National’s Marine Le Pen failed to access the second round, her result is far more concerning than her father’s in 2002. Jean-Marie Le Pen received just over 16% of the vote and a ticket to the second round, but that particular election also witnessed a record level of abstention. This year, France saw one of its biggest turnouts since the birth of the Fifth Republic with ‘only’ 20% abstaining. Therefore, while the Socialists celebrated Francois Hollande’s strong lead, and deservedly, the mood was in part dampened by the historic result of the FN. Similarly, Mélenchon was not able to fully express his satisfaction at his impressive result (11%), and proclaim the possible rebirth of a strong left-wing alternative in France. Carnage as Europeans refuse to take their medicine.
Protestors clash with riot police during a large anti-austerity demonstration in Athens last year.
Photo: AFP LONDON: Europe's political centre is starting to crumble. Elected governments have already been swept away - or replaced by EU technocrats without a vote, indeed to prevent a vote - in every eurozone state where unemployment has reached double-digits: Spain (23.6 per cent), Greece (21 per cent), Portugal (15 per cent), Ireland (14.7 per cent), and Slovakia (14 per cent). The political carnage has been striking. Ireland's Fianna Fail, creator of the Irish free state, has lost every seat in Dublin.
For more than two years, Europe's mainstream political elites have been battling to save the single currency, seeking its salvation in a German-scripted program of austerity and legally enshrined fiscal rigour that curbs the budgetary sovereignty of elected governments. Advertisement ''There's a new uncertainty,'' a leading Belgian economist, Paul De Grauwe, said. Related: Islam + Left - Michael Brull. The Left should be firmly and unapologetically secularist.
The Left, rightly in my view, has historically stood for classical Enlightenment values of rationalism. We should support people thinking for themselves, rather than believing in irrational and empirically dubious dogmas. We should support people challenging undeserving authorities, rather than offering them deference or outright obedience. During the Iranian revolution, French philosopher Michel Foucault solemnly explained: one thing must be clear. Middle East expert Maxime Rodinson sought to correct this misimpression. Political Islam can take many different forms. In the 1950s, the wildly popular Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser electrified the Arab world with his relatively secular independent nationalism.
The Eisenhower administration in the US responded with a plan to build up King Saud as a counterweight to Nasser.4 The nature of the Saudi government was well known. The Pakistani Taliban have, he continued: Related: Islam + Left - Tad Tietze. Michael Brull makes two key claims that lead him to confusing issues of principle and strategy for a Left forced to deal with political Islam’s influence.
First, he argues that while ‘[p]olitical Islam can take many different forms’, it is not anti-imperialism, it is not feminism, and it is not socialism – and he backs this with examples of reactionary policies and betrayals by various Islamist formations. If the argument were about whether the Left should import Islamism into its politics, there would be nothing to debate. We should not: we must remain fiercely critical and independent of any reactionary policies and actions.
But today the organised Left is almost everywhere a marginal force, and organisations well to the Right of us play a major role in resisting imperialism, dictatorship and neoliberalism, however inconsistently. Islamism is not just the ideology of certain ruling elites in the Middle East and Asia: Islamists also play key roles in opposition from below.
Tad Tietze response. The wave of revolutions sweeping the Arab world represents a sharp break from almost a decade of defensive struggle against triumphant neoliberalism and neo–conservatism.
Philosopher Peter Hallward calls it an opportunity to break the pattern of TINA (the notion that ‘there is no alternative’ to the relentless assault by ruling elites on their peoples), while Slavoj Žižek celebrates the revolution’s appeal to the ‘eternal idea of freedom, justice and dignity’.34 Yet some are anxious that the revolts will be hijacked by Islamist political currents bent on imposing sharia law, oppressing women and homosexuals, and crushing hopes for freedom under theocratic rule. The spectre of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has been raised not only by Western leaders but by some sympathetic to the uprisings. In my view, building united fronts with Islamist currents around specific issues is an inescapable part of any potentially successful Left politics in the Middle East. Michael Brull response. Perhaps the most astonishing thing in Tietze’s essay is his dismissal of ‘a naïve adherence to secularism as a progressive force in the modern world’.
It reminds me of Emma Goldman’s meeting with Lenin, during which he informed her that ‘free speech … is, of course, a bourgeois notion’. Goldman reeled in horror: ‘Free Speech, free Press, the spiritual achievements of centuries, what were they to this man?’ 45 All I can say is: yes, Tad, secularism is a progressive force in the modern world, and has been for a long time. I would be amazed if he disputed that in Europe, or if he was willing to compromise secularist values in Australia. At the time of writing, a Christian Pakistani politician has just been murdered by Islamist fanatics who think it’s blasphemy to reform the blasphemy laws (which impose the death penalty).46 In January, Salmaan Taseer was also murdered for standing in solidarity with a Christian accused of blasphemy. [There was not] a single clap for me.
Round One - French elections 2012. Rather dangerous Monsieur Hollande. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front and the Fascists. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front and the Fascists posted by lenin I don't have time to digest and analyse this as thoroughly as I would like, but yesterday's elections in France deserve some kind of discussion on the blog.
Following his victory in Bradford West, George Galloway's article in the Morning Star argued that the conjunctural factors making his success possible were the same that are undoing the neoliberal consensus in France and Greece, and shortly across the EU. There are, caveats aside, obvious parallels between Galloway and Mélenchon; we will see whether a UK equivalent to the Left Front emerges.
If yesterday's election results in Paris are anything to go by, you might think this a rather worrying comparison. Not only did Mélenchon not receive the 15-17% the polls promised him (far less the 19-24% an internal government poll prophesied back in April), but the Front National gained a fifth of the vote. We should keep this in perspective. Jim Wolfreys French Elections - Jim Wolfreys - 25th April 2012. Left must lead fight against Le Pen.
The leadership of the Front National (FN) around Marine Le Pen has tried very hard to ditch the party’s fascist image.
There has been a fight inside the party to enforce this line and to play down elements most associated with its fascist past. But throughout the FN and its leadership is a hardcore of traditional Nazis. The FN has quietly maintained its links with violent extra‑parliamentary groups—and has been involved in violent attacks against the left. Just days before the election FN activists chased and attacked people who were putting up posters for the Left Front. Weeks earlier one of their candidates in the coming parliamentary elections had wounded in a barman during an assault in a pub.
The tension between the “moderate” image and the fascist core creates a contradiction for the FN. Marine Le Pen’s father is former FN leader Jean‑Marie Le Pen. Meanwhile his daughter played the “moderate” card. The proportion of votes the FN got is about the same as in 2002. Legitimacy Movement. France rediscovers the allure of shaping its own singular destiny. It seems that the French presidential elections are once again providing their most sceptical neighbours with a delicious opportunity for ridicule.
In the estimation of much of the British media, this is a contest – the first round of voting takes place today – characterised by populism and demagogy, dangerously lacking in pragmatism, and in which 30% of the vote threatens to fall to extremists. The schadenfreude is unsurprising. French society has always been as vilified as it is envied for its apparent independence, its munificent welfare state, its glowing infrastructure and the supposed quality of life of its inhabitants.
Surely, after the reality check of 2008, France is at last waking up to the harsh truths of life in the global economy? On one level, it would seem that this election is indeed proof that France has woken up. It's true that there are key differences in what each proposes, Hollande offering a clear social democratic alternative. I think not, for two reasons. ‘France now more racist than 5 years ago’ Extremism’s on the march in a declining Europe. Emma-Kate Symons The ultimate winner of the first round of the French presidential election is undoubtedly Marine Le Pen. Or as the new poster girl of the European extreme right told her dazzled, dancing devotees in Paris: “Whatever happens over the next 15 days, the battle of France has just begun, nothing will ever be like before.” Close to one in five voters backed the heir to Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front crown. The much better than expected result embarrassed pollsters and political figures who had underplayed the popularity of the “Blue Marine Wave”.
It is an unprecedented score for Europe’s most spectacularly successful far right anti-immigrant, and now firmly anti-capitalist, political movement. The historic significance of this result cannot be underestimated. The 43-year-old Le Pen, in her first tilt at the presidency, has catapulted herself into the so-called third-man role in this electoral race to the bottom. Marine Le Pen: neither Left nor Right, just a chain-smoking, race baiting opportunist. Marine Le Pen is a triangulator par excellence Expect the newspapers to be full of the end of La France.
Against her better judgment, that hysterical madame has voted in the presidential elections for a socialist first and an ineffectual conservative second. She also gave twenty percent and third place to the nationalist candidate, Marine Le Pen. The Left will say that it's 1933 all over again. Only instead of an Austrian corporal threatening democracy and liberty, we have a chain-smoking Frenchwoman clippity-clopping down the Champs Elysees in leather boots – lighting her Gauloise with a burning Koran.
Seen from another angle, Marine’s victory is no victory at all. Given how far France has shifted to the Right on immigration, it is surprising that Marine didn’t do any better. What then does Marine represent? But as libertarians are wont to point out, the European nationalists are often quite social democratic in their economics. Marine Le Pen: France’s Woman in the Wings. The Lone Star State has led a surprisingly progressive overhaul of its incarceration system.
The story behind the bipartisan push that GOP contenders may be extolling come 2016. It appears Rick Perry is going to run for president again in 2016. Perry, 65, will leave the governor’s office next January after serving for 14 years, beginning in 2000, when George W. Bush resigned to prepare for the presidency. In recent months, Perry has appeared in both Iowa and South Carolina. As he creeps back onto the national stage, Perry—who has overseen the executions of 268 people—more executions than any other governor in United States history—has brought with him an unlikely Lone Star State success story: prison reform. The conservative movement to reform prisons is not new. That very well might be changing now that it appears it could be a series of talking points for a mainstream Republican presidential prospect. “You can’t go into the state legislatures and say ‘Hey, they did this in Vermont!’ Le Pen voters grapple with their role as kingmakers. Alain, a repair man, was up a ladder fixing shop signs and, as he put it, "working like a dog to earn 900 pounds a month and still barely feed the family".
But the 49-year-old couldn't hide his good mood. In the heart of France's northern rust-belt, in Marine Le Pen's Henin-Beaumont fiefdom – a depressed, former coal-mining town struggling with high unemployment and factory closures – he called himself a typical extreme-right Front National voter: working class, poor and disillusioned with mainstream parties. "She's got this great way of speaking. It's not all about being against Algerians, you know. It's not all anti-immigration, it's about spending power, making ends meet, the financial crisis and what to do about it.
Henin-Beaumont in France's Pas-de-Calais saw Le Pen top the poll with 35.48% of the vote in the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday night. It has made the race tense and less predictable. "I voted Sarkozy in 2007. France election: Hollande takes lead into second round. 23 April 2012Last updated at 10:01 GMT French President Nicolas Sarkozy says a "crucial time has now come" for the people of France French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces an uphill struggle in the second round of the presidential election, after coming second in Sunday's first vote.
He won 27.1% of the vote, while his Socialist rival Francois Hollande took 28.6%, the first time a sitting president has lost in the first round. The two men will face each other in a second round of voting on 6 May. Third-place Marine Le Pen took the largest share of the vote her far-right National Front has ever won, with 18%. The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris says Mr Hollande's narrow victory in this round gives him crucial momentum ahead of the run-off in two weeks' time.
Analysts suggest Mr Sarkozy, leader of the ruling centre-right UMP, will now need to woo the far-right voters who backed Ms Le Pen if he is to hold on to the presidency. How many debates? Mr Hollande promptly rejected the idea. Analysis. François Hollande on top but far right scores record result in French election. Le Pen shocks France as far right hits historic heights - FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012.
Rick Santorum Doesn’t Like the French, But America Increasingly Does.
(About the movie "The Artist") "Most importantly, it allows you to enjoy what is best about France without ever having to listen to the French." Best conclusion ever :) – loicag
Rich irony in French election farce. French election blog 2012. Seumas Milne. Elysée. France's future: A country in denial. The French election: An inconvenient truth. Marine Le Pen and the silent army of unusual suspects. A Tragedy in Toulouse - By Eric Pape. Trapped Between Neighbours and Politics: The Painful Position of Europe's Jews. French election plunges into ‘obsession with immigrants’ French right focuses on 'radical' Muslims - Features. Sacking Sarkozy won’t be enough. Sarko French Connections.
France election 2012: Nicolas Sarkozy bans cheese from Elysée Palace. France election 2012: Nicolas Sarkozy accused of using Islamist terror swoops to boost campaign. Merkel distances herself from Sarkozy’s fiery appeal to right-wing voters. Is Sarko fini? Sarkozy - What's French for U-turn? Face to face with the far right: meeting Marine Le Pen. François Bayrou: stuck in the middle and mind-blowingly boring. France election 2012: where on earth is François Bayrou? François Bayrou: The disappearing third man. Eva Joly: wrong message or wrong messenger? Green party's 'strange' Joly struggles to win over voters. French voters leaning toward 'Monsieur Normal' for president.
Francois Hollande win may dent Angela Merkel's dominance. Enter Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Jean-Luc Mélenchon moves from left to centre stage in battle to be president. Mélenchon: the poetry-loving pitbull galvanising the French elections. M.guardian.co.uk. Irish Left Review · The French elections and the poll surge of Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon MEP. French voters warm to Left party's maverick. Jean-Luc Mélenchon's policies are no far-left fantasy. Jean-Luc Mélenchon: "There is Nothing More Anti-capitalist Than 'The People First' " - L'Humanité in English.
The Mélenchon phenomenon: Aux armes, citoyens. George Galloway and Jean-Luc Mélenchon expose a huge political gap. Bradford points the way / Features. Melenchon pays the ransom of success. Jean-Luc Mélenchon paye la rançon de son succès. Mediapart 2012 - Le grand entretien avec Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Meeting de Mélenchon à Marseille: près de 100.000 personnes réunies sur la plage du Prado.