Sunday, April 21, 2002

And it hits the fan

If the early results are to be believed Le Pen has beaten Jospin. With half the results counted:

Jacques Chirac: 19.74%
Jean-Marie Le Pen: 17.35%
Lionel Jospin: 15.31%

It is a 2% gap between Jospin and Le Pen, so it could close.

What will be the effect of Le Pen getting through to the second round? Firstly it will realign, temporarily, French politics. A Le Pen - Chirac fight can not be a straight left-right fight. (Oddly both Le Pen and Chirac were outspoken free marketeers in the 1980s and early 1990s, not that many Libertarians will point you to this). The fight will be a populist taking on the establishment. It will affect many issues, from crime to immigration to taxes. But it will be Europe that most affects us here.

While the fight will cut across left and right, Le Pen is a eurosceptic and Chirac is not. This is almost certain to become a dividing line in the election, and it will be one of the areas where Le Pen will try to win voters from the Eurosceptic left.

The play offs have almost finished and it looks like it will be the souvereigntistes vs internationalistes has started in France. Of course the souvereigntistes could not have wished for a worse center forward, but they have reached the final. Will this be 1983 or 1988? And does anyone get the metaphor (clue, it's football, soccer for my American readers).


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