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Folk are saner on the Continent, apparently

If you think a lot of TV and live comedy shows have got tired recently, then I think this fellow, a columnist at Bloomberg, could stir things up a bit, albeit without realising it:

Voters in the major continental nations may get angry and disappointed — say, with French President Francois Hollande’s feckless leadership or with the recent inflow of refugees from the Middle East — but they don’t get desperate enough to vote in a Donald Trump or to inflict Brexit-style turmoil on their countries.

Leonid Bershidsky

Absolutely, Mr Bershidsky, voters in France, for example, continue to elect people who preside over the grandeur, nay, the stability, of double-digit unemployment, of all those jolly car-burning festivals that so enliven the outskirts of Paris or Marseilles. And they vote for the sort of structures that will admit a country such as Greece, or for that matter, Italy, into a single currency predicated on economic fundamentals that are for the fairies.

But hey, they don’t vote to leave a transnational progressive union with centralising intent, and they don’t vote for property developers from Queen’s. So I guess Europe’s okay then.

Where the hell does Bloomberg find these people?

20 comments to Folk are saner on the Continent, apparently

  • Stephen K

    Bershidsky’s not the worst at Bloomberg by some distance, though. The only one worth reading is Megan McArdle.

  • Paul Marks

    To Bloomberg democracy is a ritual – it is not about really changing anything.

    The people are allowed to vent their fury – as long as, when the dust has settled, the elite continue to make the decisions in the offices of the European Union and the rest of the “International Community”.

    So democracy is reduced to a farce – full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.

    It means that voting does not really change how one is governed – at least not “on the Continent”, the same regulations are passed and so on.

  • PeterT

    My perspective on this is that both the Brexit and Trump campaigns manage to motivate a broad spectrum of support. Brexit was supported both by global free traders, small government conservatives, and those concerned about immigration. Trump got the support from conservatives, immigration hawks and ‘economic nationalists.’ In both those case the UK government and Trump have yet to prove to any of their supporters that they will do what they said on the tin (except for the Gorsuch appointment – a big win for conservatives and libertarians.)

    By contrast Le Pen only has one real signature issue – immigration. The economic plank of her platform is just a similar shade of red to that of her competitors. This is why she will never get a much higher proportion of the vote than she currently has, unless something big happens – EU banning wine on the encouragement of some Marseilles mullahs, or something.

  • Russ in TX

    I think this election is less than the CW, with its evergreen “hunt for narrative” wants to perceive. Had Fillon not been hoisted on his own ethical petard, this would have been a complete yawner of an election. Now the Ultimate Insider EU technocrat has the track against Le Pen, but I doubt it lasts longer than is required for him to smear himself with fecklessness.

    While anathema to American and Central-European eyes, Le Pen’s look to Russia is actually historically logical (France is not big enough to dominate the continent, but France-plus-Russia can), but it lacks sufficient support for her to pull it off.

    So I see this situation largely as a “no hyperventilating needed” affair.

  • Julie near Chicago

    PeterT, I don’t see why the EU couldn’t ban wine (except, why in the world would they? France, & Riesling, & all, don’tcha know). After all, they were going to ban the British Sausage, or at least illegalize it under any name except “the British high-fat offal tube.” :>)

    Also, your analysis of Trump & Brexit: Yes.


    Paul: Exactly.

  • John B

    Over 40% of the French vote went to Eurosceptic candidates, versus 23% for the Europhile.

    The French voted in François Hollande… hasn’t he been a success.

  • Mr Ed

    I read somewhere the other day that M Macron is an Ed Milliband dressed up by the media as a Justin Trudeau. Let’s see if that becomes apparent by the next round.

    Marine le Pen will not be permitted to win is my view, the entire French establishment is against her.

    Did they fight at Verdun for a choice between le Pen and Macron, which is itself the price of seeing the back of Hollande?

  • Paul Marks

    Alas France has, politically, been going down hill since 1870 – but then that is true of the world in general.

    We have been saved from the consequences of the growth of statism, by technology – by technological development.

    But when the state has reached the size and scope it now holds, can any form of technology prevent decline and (indeed) collapse?

  • Regional

    The French need Russia to sandwich the Germans.
    The extreme Left are now the main stream.

  • Russ in TX

    The Germans have their OWN election, Regional: if Merkel loses, Russia will own Germany anyway.

  • Laird

    Whatever else the French election may have been, it was clearly a repudiation of the political establishment. Le Pen is what she is (PeterT nailed it) and Macron, while a “technocrat”, has never held elective office and he’s now the odds-on favorite to win the presidency. To me, that seems to be a Big Deal. Even assuming that Macron wins, Le Pen’s influence going forward will be huge. It seems inevitable that stricter border controls will have to be implemented, which is her only real issue. (And the combination of that with Macron’s economic policies would seem to be the best of both worlds for France.) Le Pen’s strong showing demonstrates that French dissatisfaction with the EU, while perhaps not (yet) at UK levels, is significant and growing. The Eureaucrats in Brussels should be quaking in their boots. This election may give them a temporary reprieve, but the fractures in the EU edifice are growing. Methinks Bershidsky is whistling past the graveyard.

    But I doubt that Merkel will lose. Dismal as her reign has been, I can’t see the Germans giving up on the EU experiment, not with Germany being firmly in the driver’s seat. I just hope I’m wrong.

  • James Hargrave

    Paul Marks.

    Why 1870. Napoleon III was hardly without blemishes. Perhaps 1830? But I find much more to like in the 3rd and 4th republics than the 5th.

  • PeterT

    Paul Marks, if the answer to your question is “yes”; well, I find that much more terrifying (and more likely unfortunately) than it being “no”. Entertainment is the new opium of the masses. The idiocracy is already upon us and grows stronger by the day.

    Although I don’t like many of her policies, I think it would be wise to vote for Le Pen. As in the US the President only has limited power, but the disruptive effect would be significant and hopefully beneficial. There is simply no way small government conservative ideas can gain traction without crisis. With crisis politicians may find them necessary, like when the New Zealand government (Labour!) enacted free market reforms to save the country.

  • Stephen K

    “Why 1870. Napoleon III was hardly without blemishes. Perhaps 1830? But I find much more to like in the 3rd and 4th republics than the 5th.”
    The Orleans monarchy (1830-1848) was the only French regime I have much time for. The motto of the Prime Minister, Guizot, was ‘enrichissez-vous’, which compares favourably to most other French governments.

  • NickM

    Macron is almost the epitome of the establishment.

    Born in Amiens, he studied Philosophy at Paris Nanterre University, completed a Master’s of Public Affairs at Sciences Po, and graduated from the École nationale d’administration (ENA) in 2004. He worked as an Inspector of Finances in the Inspectorate General of Finances (IGF) and then became an investment banker at Rothschild & Cie Banque.
    A member of the Socialist Party (PS) from 2006 to 2009, Macron was appointed as deputy secretary-general under François Hollande’s first government in 2012. He was appointed Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs in 2014 under the Second Valls Government,[2] where he pushed through business-friendly reforms.

    – From Wikipedia.

    That both The Guardian and The Mail hailed him as an “outsider” is stunning. Just stunning. It shows quite how far the goal-posts have moved.

  • NickM

    I think the F+R>G is interesting. Haven’t we been there before?

  • John K


    You are quite right. Sciences Po + ENA + Inspector of Finances puts Macron right at the heart of the French elite.

    I think it tells you a lot about the statism at the heart of French life that the elite course is to study national administration and then become an elite tax collector, but that is the case.

    Anyone arguing that Macron is some sort of “outsider” is either misinformed or an MSM journalist. David Cameron was educated at Eton and Oxford, and he was more of an outsider than Emmanuel Macron.

    If the French people think everything is fine, and want nothing to change, then they are free to vote for the Establishment’s candidate. And that is Macron.

  • Rob

    I think I saw some analysis somewhere which showed that nearly 50% of the population under the age of forty voted for the Communist or the Fascist.

    Yep, they are far saner on the Continent.

  • NickM (April 25, 2017 at 7:32 am): “That both The Guardian and The Mail hailed him [Macron] as an “outsider” is stunning.”

    It may merely mean that, just as both left-wing and right-wing mainstream media here get much of their US news from people who first priority is to supply the New York Times and the Washington Post, and sometimes blatantly do not review it before showing/printing, so maybe they get much of their news about France from the establishment.


    1) I chanced to hear yesterday’s 10pm BBC news. The summary of Macron and le Pen seemed – by beeb standards – astonishingly straightforward and factual, and insistence that Macron was sure to win was muted to a surprising degree.

    2) Well through a long BBC article (that few license holders will ever read), they actually ask “Is France’s National Front leader far-right?” and include this quote from ‘a former adviser to Marine, who does not want to be named: “She does not have right-wing reflexes. For me, right-wing people are people who value liberty over equality. And left-wing people are the opposite. Well, Marine always chose equality over liberty.” ‘

    Just as the left’s hatred ensures that Donald has little choice but to appoint originalist judges, so their hatred of Marine – the EU’s attempt to convict her of hate speech for example – leaves her little choice but to defend liberty in practice. But her ‘former advisor who does not want to be named’ has a point.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Strangely, in the French election, those loudly championing the cause of feminism seem to have gone eerily quite, I wonder why, no “I’m with Her’ placards?