Playing with Fire

18% to the National Front… Sarkozy’s evil strategy of making eyes at the extreme right all the way through his campaign seems to have backfired. In vain did people in his party warn him to stop banging on about immigration and halal meat every five minutes and try to talk about policy. This morning you can be sure that the president was ruing his decision to ignore them and follow the advice of his eminence grise, the dark lord, Patrick Buisson. This is a man who was suckled on Charles Maurras‘ proto-fascism, is admired as a strategist by Jean Marie Le Pen and who earnt his stripes as a columnist with the extreme right weekly newspaper, Minute. “I owe my election to him,” Sarkozy once declared. Buisson’s tactic in 2007 was to siphon votes from the National Front and Philippe de Villier’s  Movement Pour la France. This strategy worked once. Why, Sarko must have asked himself, shouldn’t it work again?

The big difference is that this time the electorate knew him. After five years, they felt they knew him intimately. And they detested him. It was a grave mistake of Sarkozy’s not to try to dissimulate his petulant, dictatorial personality a little behind his track record – his reforms to the civil service, his handling of the euro crisis during his term as European President, of the Russia Georgia conflict and his decisive action against Libya. But his deep narcissism and childishness would have made it impossible for him to do this.

So there we have it, 18% for Marine Le Pen. There will be a kind of perverse delight at this result, at least in the little corner of rural France where I live. Round here Hollande is seen as a traitor to the left. In my nearest village it was his electoral portrait, not Sarkozy’s that was daubed with a devil’s moustache. (For my neighbours Sarko is below contempt.) Yesterday’s terrifying result will reassure people that anti-fascism is not an irrelevant, obsolete struggle. It will prove to those most fearful of the advance of consumerist vacuity that ideology is not dead.


To Change or Not to Change…


6 thoughts on “Playing with Fire

  1. Very interesting piece, but isn’t the logic of the argument here that Sarkozy will be remembered fondly if hazily by all those who voted for the National Front? His Buisson-backed rhetoric aligns with theirs. If Sarkozy can pick up a sizeable proportion of their votes in the second round…he might even scrape home.

  2. And then follows, perhaps, a southwards realignment in the Eurozone: au revoir Germany and bonjour Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – all of whom have had quite enough of the ‘austerity’ pact and its growth-destroying constraints on fiscal stimulus thank you very much. But does Hollande have it in him to make a change for France in Europe? More Europe or another Europe.

  3. I think your analysis is a bit ideological, chère Lucy.

    The media consensus is that Tulip will win (based on polls taken before the first tour, asking about intention to vote in a second round).

    But there was also data that a lot of French voters had trouble making up their minds before the first tour. The margin is tiny and there are 30 per cent of the voters to play for. It will be very close so will come down to who is most adept in the final furlong (the only one that really counts). I think there are enough voters to be convinced that Rolex can in principle pull this off. A wild card is the French internet and especially the intriguing Twitter development #radiolondres

    Rolex has going for him that he is smarter, quicker and more ruthless than Tulip. Also, there is going to be at least one debate – and I think Rolex can win it.

    The Marine Le Pen National Front voters will not necessarily vote for Rolex in the second tour – the NF is fundamentally a socialist party with nationalist sentiments. A lot of them used to vote Communist. But I think most will, because Rolex talks tougher on immigrants and they are more nationalist than socialist, fundamentally.

    (Yes, the NF are really national socialists. Although the mainstream media refer to them as a party of the extreme right, they could also be considered a party of the extreme left, a toxic melange of perverted socialism, authoritarian nationalism and coded racism. But they are not friends of business. Not a sweet-smelling mixture but it is one that can often attract disabused voters, such as my cleaning lady. She is hardly a fasco but she drives a 20-year-old car, knows nothing of the world outside the Hérault valley, and regards the choice between Tulip and Rolex as being one between the plague and cholera. And on this, she has a point.)

    My own view is that Tulip will make things worse with his insane plans to increase taxes and utter ignorance on how to create jobs in the private sector.

    Rolex may not make things much worse even if he is clueless how to make them better.)

    I am feeling confident with my £30 0n Sarko at Paddypower at 11/4 and now with Ladbrooke’s offering 5-1, I might even raise my stake. It’s not over until Carla sings…

  4. What now? Now we have a Tulip? All potential investors are packing their bags in readiness to head for the hills at the hint of a wealth tax. Will the right gather forces to prevent too much change?

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