At the Salle Equinox in Paris last night, supporters and activists of Marine Le Pen danced the night away to 1980s pop music. On the playlist was, reportedly, Lionel Ritchie’s hit ‘All Night Long’. All night Front National activists might well have continued. With around 18% of the vote (18.05% Le Point/17.9% Le Figaro), Mme Le Pen has produced the shock result of the first-round in the French presidential elections, surpassing even her father’s record from 2002 in which he gained some 16.86% of the vote.
At the start of this tragic week for the French nation, when four people were gunned down outside a Jewish school complex in Toulouse, the hardening of rhetoric on the French right in this election year seemed completely at odds with public sentiment. As news of the murders in the south-west filtered across France, candidates on the right from the present incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy to the far right challenger Marine Le Pen were quick to condemn right-wing extremism. That was, of course, when the killer was thought to be an ex-soldier with neo-Nazi sympathies who had been expelled from the army for his political views.
In the past week, Europe has resembled something like school playground. Due to David Cameron using his Veto last week, the French have lashed out with several, vindictive and frankly, rather childish statements about the state of the British economy; despite the fact that Angela Merkel pointed out that Britain still had an important role to play in helping to sort out the Eurozone Crisis. It’s worth pointing out I feel, that in a note of poetic irony, Standard & Poor are expected to downgrade the French credit rating within days, whilst Britain’s remains as stable as ever. There have been calls from many influential people, that to ensure the survival of the Eurozone, that Greece should be allowed to bow out gracefully, and with as much dignity as it can muster.
A black cloud still looms over Europe and yet any economic agreement seems like an unlikely task among the European leaders to save the EU from this debt crisis. A series of negative events hasn’t helped with the confidence in Europe either. Economic integration is a fundamental part of the Eurozone but we have witnessed the obliteration of the economies of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Last week, the Bank of England governor Mervyn King told a committee of MPs that growth didn’t seem likely in the Eurozone. He predicted that the Eurozone would shrink both in the first quarter and in the first quarter of 2012. Read the rest of this entry
The Eurozone states seem to be stuck in quicksand, and yet no one seems to be able to do anything to stop it. Sir John Major has been lamented by many as being one of our more underwhelming Prime Ministers, but he is intelligent and savvy in his way, and knows when to hold his tongue; it is all the more pertinent therefore to take notice when he does speak. His views on how the Eurozone should try to make its way out of its current mess seem to make a great deal on sense, but so far nobody seems to be listening. For anyone who has not heard what he said (and with all the shouting about the Rugby and important things like that, it’s quite understandable), he suggested the banks recapitalising and then Greece defaulting on her loans. If the European Financial Stability Facility were then given a banking licence, he says, they could either buy Greek government bonds centrally, or else use the money to recapitalise the bank. This move could not only restore confidence in the Eurozones ability to control the extent of the crisis, but also allow countries like France and Germany to focus on the fate of other countries such as Italy and who knows, even the possibility of a spanish bailout. Read the rest of this entry