Notice to Europe


The scare has passed… for now. Once again, several million French people adjusted the now legendary nose clip and reluctantly voted for the establishment candidate in order to avoid a greater evil: the victory of the extreme right. As they did 20 years ago, when they supported the highly unpopular Jacques Chirac in the second round against the fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen. As they did five years ago by supporting the elitist Emmanuel Macron against Marine Le Pen, advantaged daughter of Jean-Marie. The question is: how long will the famous clamp work?

Macron, 44, was leading by 16 points, according to data at the end of this column. He is the first president to revalidate his mandate since the presidential term was cut from seven to five years in 2002, and this record can be set in his biography. However, the margin of his victory has been much less than the 32 points with which he beat Le Pen in 2017. And considerably less than the 65 points with which Chirac beat Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002. deceit: the extreme right has advanced by leaps and bounds in a country jaded and disappointed with its traditional politicians, of which Macron is a hated exponent. The increase in abstention – the highest in 50 years – in elections that were presented as vital for the existence of the Republic reveals the state of mind of a fractured society. An abstention that surely benefited Le Pen.

They were, indeed, elections of enormous importance, not only for France, but for the whole of Europe. In the television debate last Wednesday, Macron solemnly presented the elections as a referendum on the future of the European Union, on the Franco-German axis as the engine of the community project and on the values ​​of secularism and tolerance inherited from the Enlightenment. He was not exaggerating: Le Pen’s program clashed head-on with the core of the liberal democracy that has cemented the EU since its foundation: he proposed giving the French priority in access to services and benefits, diluting the European Union in a lax “alliance of nations”, breaking the axis with Germany, abolishing the European supranational courts, prohibiting the use of the veil or changing the immigration law through a referendum –ignoring the National Assembly– with the argument that “the people” should speak.

A Le Pen victory would have been a tragedy, at least for those who believe in the values ​​that have nurtured the European Union, the most successful democratic, economic and social cohesion project in history. However, it would be a mistake to consider that the danger has been averted. To paraphrase Monterroso’s famous tale, after the elections, the problems are still there. France, one of the founding countries of the European Union, finds itself in one of the most delicate moments in its recent history, traversed by several fractures that only widen over time: between rich and poor, between inhabitants of big cities and from the countryside, between young and old. Among many French people there is a growing perception that there is no longer a collective national project, and this climate of boredom and frustration triggered last April 10, in the first round of the elections, a radical change in the French political map.

The two traditional parties that had dominated the scene of the Fifth Republic – the Socialist and the Gaullist – suffered a humiliating defeat and are today on the verge of disappearance. The three new political actors are Macron, with his vaporous center-right movement En Marcha; Le Pen, with the far-right National Regroupment; and the radical leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, at the head of France Insumisa. The fact is that close to 60% of the votes in the first round – for Le Pen, Mélenchon and their respective related parties – reject Brussels, NATO, the vague “elites” against whom extremists tend to agitate, and with that reality Macron will have to deal in the next five years. He will not have it easy. In the first place, he remains to see what will happen to his party, constituted in his image and likeness and in which he exercises uncontested leadership, bearing in mind that this will be his last term. On the other hand, legislative elections are held in June and July, and it is very likely that his party will lose its absolute majority and have to face an Assembly with a growing and implacable opposition.

What has happened in France should be a wake-up call for European democracies. There are numerous polls that stubbornly reflect the disappointment of citizens with the institutions. Years of uncontrolled globalization have accentuated inequality throughout the continent to unbearable extremes. The exceptional reaction of the EU to contain the effects of the pandemic has not been enough to reduce discontent. And now it remains to be seen what effects the sanctions imposed on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine may have on the bulk of the population. It is a fairly complex issue, since a further hardening of the living conditions of citizens can have the unintended consequence of creating the atmosphere for the extreme right to stir up its populist discourse.

Europe’s democratic leaders must act without delay. Leaving their comfortable offices and solving citizens’ problems, without abandoning the values ​​on which Europe has been built. Taking part of the discourse of the extreme right to combat it on its own ground – as the conservative British prime minister or the socialist Danish prime minister have done with their plans to “transfer” immigrants to Africa – is, in addition to an outrage, a drastic mistake which only contributes to tilting the ideological map to the right.

What happened in France, where once there was a sum of voters to prevent the triumph of the extreme right, contrasts with what happens in Spain, where the Popular Party has opened the doors to the Government for the first time to Vox. With what face does Núñez Feijóo congratulate Macron for keeping the ultras at bay in his country while blessing alliances with them in Spain? He will definitely need acrobatic skills to do it.


Source: ElDiario.es – ElDiario.es by www.eldiario.es.

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