Sacre Bleu!
April 21, 2002 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Sacre Bleu! The French presidential election run-off will be between the conservative Chirac and the extreme-right Le Pen. What's a French liberal to do?
posted by liam (40 comments total)

Oh, sorry.
posted by sacre_bleu at 12:32 PM on April 21, 2002

It seems there's hope for the French after all. And look what just happened in Germany. Conservatives in an eastern state defeated Schroeder's Social Democrats.

So on the right we have Italy, Spain, France and soon Germany. And on the left we have Belgium, Demark, Rinkydinkland and Tinyville. Soon, the only place where you'll be able to find a socialist will be among the tenured staff at some American university.
posted by mikegre at 12:57 PM on April 21, 2002

Pack the bags honey! We're movin' to Denmark!

Where I'll change my name to Dick Copenhagen, or maybe just Dickenhagen. Better stop there.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:22 PM on April 21, 2002

More background on Le Pen here (nyt link). Seems he's the French answer to Pat Buchanan, complete with cryptic Holocaust commentary.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:38 PM on April 21, 2002

Wow! This is amazing! Awesome news! Not that I'm a big fan of Le Pen and his anti-Semitic leanings, but all of Jospin's voters will go over to Chirac anyway, and Le Pen won't get elected, while still getting the point across that the voters are not feeling represented by their government. The EUnuchs must be going crazy.

Here's a link to the Germany story. The conservatives got 37% to the Social Democrats' ~20%. And another "pro-business" party got 13%.
posted by aaron at 1:44 PM on April 21, 2002

Even aside from the record abstention rate of 30%, there's the unremarked phenomenon of millions of voters choosing sliver candidates with no chance to win. Nader Nader Nader. (Sorry.) Chirac 20%; Le Pen 17%; Jospin 16% means 47% of the electorate chose a candidate without even that 1 in 6 ghost of a chance. Is the left in as much disarray in France as elsewhere? If nothing else this might provide a kick in the pants to overcome that splintering. An earlier story highlighted the sliver concerns of some candidates, among them a fellow who is pro-hunting, and apparently little else.
posted by dhartung at 2:09 PM on April 21, 2002

The French had an interesting slate of candidates to choose from, but for years, Le Pen has been the most outrageous.

He is most famous for saying that Nazi gas chambers are "a detail of history" and that history has demonstrated that the races "do not have the same evolutionary capacity".

He has been repeatedly accused of torture in Algeria

In 1998, he received a suspended three-month sentence, was fined FFr23,000 and was barred from public office in France and the European Parliament after physically attacking Socialist candidate Annette Peulvaste-Bergeal during the legislative campaign in 1997.

There is no denying that he has a vocal and loyal following, but in this election, when voters stayed away in droves, a lot of people voted for Le Pen to show their dislike for the whole slate.
posted by Geo at 2:11 PM on April 21, 2002

The Right and Left in France are pretty much intellectually bankrupt, so this means not that much. Then again, even relative opposition to the EU is salutory.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:37 PM on April 21, 2002

Wasn't it Al Camus who, crashing his car, said as he was dying "Apres moi cometh the assholes"? My first car was a Renault and all nonsense going on in France is my revenge.
posted by Postroad at 3:15 PM on April 21, 2002

We're all in disbelief, at least all the people I know can't understand what happened.
posted by XiBe at 3:39 PM on April 21, 2002

"Nobody *I* know voted for Nixon!" -- classic quote attributed to Pauline Kael in 1972, possibly aprocryphal
posted by aaron at 3:42 PM on April 21, 2002

Al Camus

Didn't he play for the the Milwaukee Braves?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:45 PM on April 21, 2002

I know can't understand what happened.

Ask Kathérine Harris.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:52 PM on April 21, 2002

Le Pen (for a little while) favored mass deportations of immigrants. He then favored never granting immigrants citizenship. Now he favors letting only second generations immigrants get citizenship. He's a known racist and anti-Semite, and a Holocaust revisionist. This is not a typical kind of Reagan/Bush right-wing.

Mikegre, don't count Italy as a right-wing country. The prime minister's labor policies were just protested by millions of people in a general strike that shut the country down. At this point, the current government doesn't stand a chance for re-election. As far as Germany goes, people have just had it with 10% unemployment, and are tired of promises to make things better and then not, so they elected another set of people. Don't think that they're about to demolish the Socialist state.
posted by panopticon at 4:25 PM on April 21, 2002

Well, "can't understand" is of course too quick of a sum-up. We perfectly know what happenned. We're just amazed it DID happen.

See, politics are a wreck here in France, the French can't be bothered to pay attention to those leaders who keep lying. We don't trust them anymore.

But my opinion is that it all happened because of this : the issue was a given. Everyone KNEW the run-off will be between Chirac and Jospin.
Therefore, everyone voted for "that little guy, he won't get much votes but I like his ideas, yeah". No one voted for the biggest leaders (=biggest liars), but for on of the other "contestants" (17 of them).
The far right is different. Far-right voters are "fanatics", and therefore they WILL vote for their guy, as they always did.
That, plus Chirac and Jospin who used some Le Pen's ideas (insecurity and so on), there you go.

And today's my 25th birthday. Yay me.
posted by XiBe at 4:27 PM on April 21, 2002

There are a lot more important things to be ashamed about in France. In any case, Le Pen is not going to win, so what's the big deal?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:46 PM on April 21, 2002

The big deal is that Le Pen going this far is kind of the "last straw".
I can't speak for anyone but myself here, and I'm no politics buff, but I think your can understand that aching feeling in you stomach when such a dangerous politician comes this far.
Political crisis, you tell me.

Protests in France, in most big cities, right now (2am). Against what ? Le Pen's "victory" ? This election is perfectly legal... Oh well...
Too tired to think... 'been a long day.
posted by XiBe at 5:01 PM on April 21, 2002

The smug, politically correct media and the polls kept telling the French that the result of the election was foreordained, essentially meaningless, and wouldn't change anything. The vote proved them wrong. Democracy rocks.
posted by Turtle at 5:14 PM on April 21, 2002

Anything that makes the smug, arrogant, Paramus and Israel-hating French look bad makes my day. Maybe the Euro will drop to . 8 to the dollar. Muhahhahahahahahaha!
posted by ParisParamus at 5:59 PM on April 21, 2002

Will the Le Pen "victory" bolster far-right local candidates?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:00 PM on April 21, 2002

(Happy Birthday XiBe.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:36 PM on April 21, 2002

Jacques Chirac - Rally for the Republic 20.47
Jean-Marie Le Pen - National Front 16.80
Lionel Jospin - Socialist Party 14.75
Jean Saint-Josse - Hunting, Fishing, Nature, Tradition 7.28
Francois Bayrou - Centrist 6.66
Arlette Laguiller - Workers' Struggle 5.85
Olivier Besancenot - Revolutionary Communist League 4.58
Noel Mamere - Greens 4.57
Jean-Pierre Chevenement - Republican Pole 4.53
Alain Madelin - Liberal Democracy 3.73
Robert Hue - Communist Party 3.08
Bruno Megret - National Republican Movement 2.36
Corinne Lepage - independent ecologist 1.79
Christiane Taubira - Radical Left Party 1.73
Christine Boutin - independent centrist 1.31
Daniel Gluckstein - Workers' Party 0.52
Registered electorate 9,382,669
Abstentions 24.61 percent

I'm assuming Le Pen won't win, but this is still fucking scary. The French left got so fractured by support for the Revolutionary Communists, Communists, Worker's Strugglers etc., that a white supremacist gets to challenge the conservative incumbent. Le Pen isn't David Duke, but he's close enough. It must be uncomfortable to be a non-white French citizen today.
posted by liam at 8:39 PM on April 21, 2002

France: home of the wacky politically decadent
posted by ParisParamus at 8:42 PM on April 21, 2002

So what's the "Hunting, Fishing, Nature, Tradition" party about?
posted by rodii at 9:07 PM on April 21, 2002

Hunting, and a little fishing. All politicians are about tradition, and none are about nature.
posted by liam at 9:13 PM on April 21, 2002

Panopticon, I wish I could share your optimism about the current Italian government's prospects for re-election. If here in the left-wing bastion of Bologna I know so many people who are deaf and blind to all of Berlu$ca's idiocies--including his recent call for the RAI to "terminate" those journalists and comics who are his most vocal critics--then the situation looks pretty dire to me.

The French election results, to me, are an indication that we'll be stuck in this trend for a while to come.
posted by PlinAgin at 10:39 PM on April 21, 2002

mikegre: So on the right we have Italy, Spain, France and soon Germany. And on the left we have Belgium, Demark, Rinkydinkland and Tinyville.

I take your point, but actually the right is strong in Belgium and Denmark, too; seems like a broader European trend.

Bon anniversaire, XiBe!
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 11:02 PM on April 21, 2002

For the record, Hungary just voted in a government led by a szocialist party, upsetting the previous centrist government that turned conservative and overly nationalistic recently.
posted by semmi at 11:20 PM on April 21, 2002

In Le Pen’s campaign brochure there was prominent reference, in support of his anti-immigration ravings, to the connection between Arabs living in France and the WTC attack. Plainly, he seems to say, if these dark savages hadn’t been given shelter and roquefort the tragedy would never have happened. After that it’s off-the-shelf rahrah Vive la France jobs jobs jobs hooey, all of it playing off some fear or other.

I’m mortified this happened, but, as others have said, there are reasons: the press had already decided it was going to be Chirac against Jospin; Jospin is a hardworking, capable politician (a fine Prime Minister but not a President), but he is no diplomat, hence indifference in the first round from even his own supporters.

A large part of the population, I think, was waiting til the second round to vote against Chirac, and that’s when the foaming right stepped up to vote for Le Pen. Jospin’s people should have anticipated that, and shouted it from the rooftops, because this outcome sucks.
posted by textist at 2:11 AM on April 22, 2002

The euro politician to watch is probably Pim Fortuyn. Openly Gay, outspoken in his opposition to Islam - "a backward culture" and hostile to immigration he is making considerable inroads in the liberal Netherlands, with 50% support in the 18-30 age group - not the traditional recruting ground of the far right.
posted by grahamwell at 2:42 AM on April 22, 2002

Or, perhaps Le Pen is divine retribution for France's disgusting approach in the Mideast?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:40 AM on April 22, 2002

I think it's sad that the left in France is going to have to rally around a Gaullist to resoundingly defeat Le Pen.
posted by panopticon at 6:52 AM on April 22, 2002

Chirac is kind of lame; a President really on the level of a mayor; and unlike President Bush, he isn't surrounded by a number of truly smart people to help him. However, I find it difficult to dislike someone who did a stint washing dishes in a Cambridge, MA Howard Johnsons (reported in the Economist some time ago).
posted by ParisParamus at 6:56 AM on April 22, 2002

Gosh, we may find out that the current European anti-semitism, well advertised in the US, is toward the Arab semites rather than the Jewish ones, and that most, if not all, the anti-Israel violence is mainly by the Muslim immigrants, rather than by the natives, what?
posted by semmi at 7:40 AM on April 22, 2002

"I'm ashamed to be French."

Maybe they shoulda voted.
posted by NortonDC at 8:27 AM on April 22, 2002

I don't know why a grinning fucknut like mikegre should regard this a great conservative victory, when the combined vote for all the left-of-centre parties pretty much held up. If anything, it shows how the two-round run-off system falls apart when you have that many candidates, and where the front-runner has such a low level of support. (A preference-based system of proportional representation is far, far better suited to elections with huge numbers of candidates.) The result was to be predicted, alas: the left was fragmented, as many believed that Jospin has compromised his principles during his 'cohabitation' with Chirac. The turnout was atrocious, because the campaign was lacklustre, again because of the blurring of the Chirac-Jospin centre from the last few years of cohabitation. Only Le Pen really appeared to invigorate his supporters, in a rather despicable way.

It proves what we knew, that Chirac is a canny politician: he emphasised law and order to marginalise Jospin, at the expense of losing the right of the RPR to Le Pen. Which means that he'll be re-elected with the biggest mandate, I think, in the history of the Fifth Republic.
posted by riviera at 9:25 AM on April 22, 2002

Perhaps this is why France thougth sanctions against Haider weren't such a good idea. You've got to love democracy in action!
posted by haqspan at 9:27 AM on April 22, 2002

French politics feels like student government politics did in high school and college. And has about as much importance.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:23 PM on April 23, 2002

Excellent dissection of the French election results by Sasha Volokh arguing that there's been no real change in the political tilt of the French electorate at all.
posted by aaron at 4:03 PM on April 23, 2002

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