Keith Hart on Tue, 23 Apr 2002 15:48:16 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> apres moi le digest

The first thing is that many of the candidates scored more or less the same
share of the vote as last time in 1995. Except that Jospin lost a few
points and Le Pen gained a few (but less).

There is little doubt that Jospin lost it. Some say because the left vote
was split between too many runners, but the right was also split and the
far left didn't do any better this time (the communists did worse). More
plausibly, the French have seen through the non-socialist centrist policies
of the Jospin government that brought Blair to power and so far have kept
him there. Jospin is a dreary prolitician. He would have been the first
protestant head of state since Henri IV, if he had made it. But religion
couldn't be the cause, since he got five more points last time.

58% of voters in the exit poll listed "insecurity" as the chief influence
on their vote. The left has little to say about security and there is no
doubt that it was the dominant campaign issue, post 9-11. This overall vote
is above all nationalist. If people are feeling that the world is running
away from them, they want to shore up their Frenchness somehow and Le Pen,
plus the republican right in general, plays into that feeling more
effectively than the left.

Liberation reports demonstrations already taken place and planned. the
slogan is votez escroc, pas facho -- vote for the crook, not the fascist.

I really doubt if we are on the brink of civil war here. The elections for
the assembly are after the presidential election is over and it will be
interesting to see how they play out following this shock. Jospin has
retired from political life. It is is a chance for the organised left to
regroup. Quite a few people will want to limit the powers of the crook who
finds himself president after achieving one fifth of the votes of the first
round, exactly the same as in 1995.

The wider implications of this vote consist in the rising tide of
nationalism and anti-immigrant feeling in much of Europe, as governments
take advantage of Bush's lead to screw up the levers of the security state
and Europeans legitimately worry about whether they have got their act
together sufficiently to survive the turbulence of this world.

Keith Hart


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