Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Elephant in the Room

[Elephant?  What elephant?  I don't see any elephant.]

In the first round of voting for President of France, the Socialist candidate Francois Hollande got 27.1% and the center-right candidate President Nicholas Sarkozy got 25.6%.  The press is trumpeting this as a victory for Hollande even though 72.9% voted for somebody else.

More important is the fact that Marine LePen, the candidate of the rightist National Front, got 18.9%, the most ever for a National Front candidate.   Imagine an American election in which almost one American in five voted for Ron Paul.  Not one Republican in five, one American in five.  That is roughly what has just happened here.

The anti-capitalist candidate of the Left Front party, Jean-Luc Melenchon got 11.1% of the vote.  Melenchon describes himself as "a red".  6.1% of the vote went to candidates of parties to the left of Melenchon, including Marie-George Buffet of the Parti Communiste.  Between Melenchon and those further left, more than one French voter in six voted for the hard left.

One would think that whether center-left Obama beat center-right Romney by 1.5% or not, was not the most important thing to report about the election.  One would wonder what was going on and why no one was talking about it.

The two establishment parties between them got less than 53% of the vote to more than 47% for anti-establishment parties.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the established order of society.  Yet the establishment press - the New York Times, the BBC, CNN and even the press here, Le Monde and Le Figaro - continue to natter away about Hollande and Sarkozy and the 1.5% more votes that Hollande got than Sarkozy, as though that mattered more than the 47% who voted against both the Democrats and the Republicans.

If the economic crisis (It isn't a crisis - a crisis is short-lived and acute.  This has been going on since 2008.  But I don't know what to call it.  Maybe it is a depression?) is not resolved by the next election in 2017, one can imagine the centrist democratic parties further withering away as they did in the 1930's.

A 47% anti-establishment vote means that France is not stable, and if France is not stable, neither is the European Union.  That is the elephant in the room which no one is talking about.

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