Earlier today, articles started appearing about the rise of France’s right wing, anti-immigration National Front party in recent polls. This wasn’t a surprise given the ascendancy of formerly fringe political movements in most European states. See, for instance, Portugal Is Potentially A Very Big Deal.
Still, that a formerly (and not so long ago) neo-Nazi party is doing as well as it is in the second largest eurozone economy is pretty remarkable:
The IFOP poll in conjunction with Sud Radio and Lyon Capitale gives Ms. Le Pen a lead under three different scenarios, reflecting the panic setting into the French political establishment which is considering a ‘grand coalition’ of centre-left and centre-right parties to keep the Front National out.
According to IFOP, if centrist politician Francois Bayrou and centre-right Nicolas Sarkozy ran, Ms. Le Pen would top the first choice in the multi-round election with 28 per cent of the votes. In second, the Republican Party’s Sarkozy (23), and in third, current president, socialist Francois Hollande (21).
There are two reasons for the rise of National Front and other anti-euro parties:
1) The adoption of a common currency hasn’t delivered the broad-based prosperity that was promised. Instead, Germany has entered a golden age of soaring exports, massive trade surpluses and balanced budgets while most other eurozone countries have been unable to function with a currency they can’t devalue at will.
2) The European Union’s decision to counter falling birthrates with rising immigration from Africa and the Middle East has, in the opinion of a growing number of Europeans, produced a two-tiered society in which a shrinking layer of liberal, pacifist, aging “natives” sits atop a growing, restless layer of newcomers who instead of assimilating are trying to impose their culture on traditional Europe.
And then came the Paris attacks. As this is written on Friday afternoon, 60 were reported dead and 100 were held hostage. The perps are Middle Eastern though it’s not clear what group they’re affiliated with. But no one seems to care whether it’s ISIS or al-Qaeda. Their ancestry is all that will matter in the next election, and any politician with an anti-euro, anti-immigrant platform will find a suddenly very receptive audience.
Why do the details of European elections matter? Because the euro was already teetering on the edge of an abyss. Now its critics are, one after another, taking power, which leaves Brussels, Germany and the ECB with one and only one possible response: a massive devaluation to give Italy, Greece, Portugal, et al a chance to avoid a capital “D” Depression in 2016.
In other words, this is where the currency war and the war on terror intersect.