Sunday, October 26, 2014

Le Pen may win the next French presidential election

Some years ago, French voters had to choose in the second round of the Presidential Election between Jacques Chirac and Le Pen father. Leftist politicians did the decent thing and called voters to vote for “the other candidate”. Monsieur Chirac won. There has been a recent poll that says that in a second round of a presidential election, between the Socialist candidate and Marine Le Pen, voters today would prefer Le Pen. It is only a poll, but it shows that there is a real danger that Madame le Pen reaches the second round and that the right and the center right might prefer her to Monsieur Hollande. That means a real risk that subsequently Mme Le Pen may implement her announced policies of abandoning the euro and calling a referendum to abandon the European Union. That may not happen: to start with, François Hollande may not be her rival; and even in the case of winning, she may become more responsible once in government and refrain from driving  her country (and all of us) to disaster.
But the fact that this scenario has become a possibility shows the urgency of devising policies and strategies to reignite the European project (which is the main target of the likes of le Pen in France and Farage in the UK). This means reactivating the economy in a sustainable way, under the guidance both the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the main national governments. But it also means devising a shared strategy against populisms and nationalists, which threaten to lead the European Project to a terminal crisis. And that would mean finishing the single project that has made possible decades of peace and prosperity after centuries of violence and fragmentation. If the likes of Farage, le Pen, Orban, Grillo and the rest of nationalists and populists keep advancing in the popular vote, what is today the European Union may look more similar to the Balcans or the Middle East, a prospect we thought we had left behind forever.

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