March 7, 2011


Le Pen Is Mightier: Why, just four years after its supposed demise, does France’s National Front have its highest poll ratings ever? (CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL, 3/14/11, Weekly Standard)

France needs to reexamine its membership in the European Union (which has robbed great nations of their sovereignty and saddled them with an unworkable currency) and in NATO (which has subordinated the country’s foreign policy interests to those of the United States), and it should not make a dogma of free trade. “This identity-killing globalization,” she said at Tours, “has turned into an economic horror, a social tsunami, a moral Chernobyl.” Then she led into more familiar FN themes—the International Monetary Fund, the “demographic submersion” of France, self-appointed elites, and the need for French citizens to “pick up the flag.” Ms. Le Pen is a candidate in next year’s presidential election, and a poll released in October showed her hovering at a stunning 19 percent in the polls, which put her just a couple of points behind Sarkozy and Socialist hopeful Martine Aubry, the mayor of Lille. (Dominique Strauss-Kahn, president of the IMF and a former Socialist finance minister, was at 30 percent, but he has not yet decided whether to run.) French newspapers warn that a repeat of 2002 is possible, with the FN knocking one of the major parties out of the running.

What went wrong with Sarkozy?

It is not immediately obvious why Sarkozy, who promised a wide-ranging program of reform, should be endangered by an antiestablishment candidate. After all, he has delivered reforms. He toughened criminal penalties for repeat offenders. He fixed France’s labor laws to make it harder for public employee unions to bring the country to a grinding halt with strikes. In the face of massive protests, he stuck to his guns and pushed through a new law that will significantly raise French retirement ages. And he has broadened the so-called “fiscal shield,” a government guarantee to taxpayers that no one will pay the state more than half of what he earns. He brought France back into full membership in NATO, four decades after Charles de Gaulle withdrew from the Western alliance.

Sarkozy nonetheless finds himself in a bad political position, from which his formidable skills as a campaigner may be insufficient to extricate him.

Nonetheless? What made him think an aging French population either wanted to work or to take on responsibilities beyond their borders?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 7, 2011 6:28 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus