by Stephen Tall on May 8, 2012
France’s Fifth Republic has a new president, Francois Hollande. I shed few tears for the man he replaces, Nikolas Sarkozy — while his economic policies were preferable his grubbing for National Front votes (and not just in the last fortnight) saw him descend to the same sectarian level as George Galloway from the opposite political extreme.
Combined, though, with the recent fall of the Netherlands government, and the Greek voters’ rejection of any form of workable mainstream coalition (or so it seems) — and indeed the poor turnouts in the UK’s and Italy’s local elections last week — and it’s clear voters across Europe want to deliver a kicking to their governments. Whether they are right-wing or left-wing is scarcely the point: they are in power.
Or as I wrote,back in November, when in a perfect mirror image of today’s narrative everyone was saying that Spain’s rejection of the Socialists showed the left was in retreat and the right was in the ascendant:
It is, therefore, simplistic to point to Spain as another nail in the coffin of the European left. It is at least as likely to be a reaction by the voters against incumbency. Now is not a time when being popular and being in government are an easy combination. Governments of left and right across Europe are having to implement austerity measures, whether voluntarily or because they’re compelled to by their own indebtedness; the severity varies, but it is an inevitable consequence of sluggish growth in the west.