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Far-Right Revival
Le Pen Beams as Hollande Stumbles—Again

France is getting a new cabinet—again. The FT reports that several more leftwing members of President François Hollande government have left in a rage over what they see as Hollande’s capitulation to destructive German-backed austerity policy. More:

[Prime Minister Manuel] Valls is to announce a cabinet on Tuesday, the second government revamp since the end of March. Two other prominent leftwingers, Benoît Hamon, the education minister, and Aurélie Filippetti, culture minister, signalled they would also leave.

Mr Montebourg’s departure from the government was already all but assured after he called for a change of policy away from the “extreme orthodoxy of the German right”, prompting Mr Hollande to launch a reshuffle aimed at excluding dissenters and reaffirming his commitment to supply-side reforms

This second big reshuffle—the first happened in late March—and the resulting turmoil is unlikely to help Hollande’s abysmal approval ratings, especially since the French economy continues to perform poorly. But Hollande’s loss is Marine Le Pen’s gain. A poll earlier this month showed voters favoring the far-right Le Pen over Hollande as a presidential candidate. As happy as those results must have made her, the continued dysfunction of the Hollande government must be making her positively overjoyed. The more chaos haunts his reign, the more she profits—and the closer the Euro far-right comes to gaining a purchase not only in the EU, but also in national governments.

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  • gabrielsyme

    Hollande’s loss is Marine Le Pen’s gain.

    Not quite. Le Pen would actually benefit from an improvement in Hollande’s ratings. As it stands, it is likely that Sarkozy (or another UMP candidate) would outpoll Hollande, and thus face off against Le Pen in the runoff. That is an unwinnable situation for Le Pen, as left-wing voters (at least many of them) would vote for Sarkozy as the lesser evil. Her only path to the presidency is to face Hollande in a run-off, where she could conceivably form a right-wing coalition against a discredited left.

    That’s a very hard proposition, but if Le Pen continues to detoxify the Front National’s image and improve her standing with the French public, a conceivable outcome. However, she needs the Socialists to beat the UMP candidate to have a chance.

    • Kevin

      My thoughts exactly. Sarkozy has to be knocked out in round one or it will be a repeat of the last time the National Front made it into the runoff (unless she can actually get close enough to 50% to stumble over the finish line in the runoff). I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a coup or other extra-constitutional methods to keep her out of office even if she wins – would Brussels or Strassbourg find some European law against her becoming President of France?

      • gabrielsyme

        There is an additional factor at work: some “political conversions” stick, or at least give a party a chance with more voters. The rise of the FN has been significantly fueled by growing numbers of ethnically French, working-class voters who have traditionally supported the socialists. This process needs to continue, and the discrediting of the left under Hollande is the very mechanism necessary. In that sense, Le Pen would probably like to see Hollande continue to be historically unpopular, and only make a quick recovery in time for the 2017 election (or see another candidate from the PS run in lieu of Hollande).

        Just about every factor is running in Le Pen’s direction right now: the rise of ISIS is bringing the radicalisation of French Muslims ever more to the fore, and the continuing crisis of the EU is discrediting the UMP’s pro-european policies.

        As for the Deep State overthrowing a Le Pen victory in France, I would imagine that would lead to a brief civil war. A Le Pen that garners 50% of the vote would have substantial support within the Army hierarchy and security services.

      • f1b0nacc1

        I suspect that the Deep State would prefer passive resistance to overt action to undercut a FN victory. Overt action exposes them to retaliation (see gabrielsyme’s allusion below to the role of the security services), whereas passive resistance (or even covert sabotage) would play to the Deep State’s strengths.
        Pity, France could use a good coup.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    None of the Leftists running the European Welfare states can accept the fact that big government is a burden on the economy, and the bigger it is the greater the burden. After the Reagan tax cuts in the early 80’s, the American economy grew 50% faster than the European Welfare states such that the per-capita income which was roughly equal at the time, has become an American advantage of 30% with both the faster growth rate and more importantly the compounding growth. I don’t see anything getting better in Europe for the foreseeable future, because the leftists are more likely to expand government and thus increase the burden that is already crushing their economies.

    • ojfl

      I wonder why these things are not more obvious to more people.

  • lukelea

    It’s all about immigration, or at least a lot of it is, and not only in France but also in England (Ukip). Hopefully our European allies will lead the way to a more general conclusion that the West has had enough from third-world countries to last us a couple of generations at least (or until these peoples can be assimilated — which, honestly, may be never.) Poor Sweden.

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