Monday, May 26, 2014

European elections (3): France and the raise of fascism

The fascist party National Front won 25% of the vote in the French state, becoming the first party of La Republique. That is simply scary. 

Even the hardline (and quite reactionary himself) Prime Minister Valls looked really scared when he had to announce the "political earthquake". I will make an exception and agree tonight with monsieur Valls because I am scared too.

The rise of Hitler to power began similarly and France is no small fish (nuclear weapons, centerpiece of the European Union, etc.) 

And it is not just France: in Hungary the fascist FIDESZ continues concentrating the popular vote (almost 60%), with the second force being the outright Nazi party Jobbik (almost 20%). 

And it is not just France and Hungary: in Denmark the European elections have been won by another clearly fascist party, the Dansk Folkeparti, which has gathered 27% of the popular vote.

And while not so insultingly obvious other fascist parties are making gains all around Europe: in Germany, Greece, Austria, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, etc. Never mind whatever the vote for UKIP means in Britain.

So we Europeans are at serious risk of fascist implosion. And France is no doubt the keystone in this most dangerous game of empty brains and populist xenophobia. 

The very sad results for France were:
  1. National Front (fascist): 25.4% (22 MEPs)
  2. UMP (conservative): 21.0% (18 MEPs)
  3. PS-PRG (social-democrats): 14.5% (12 MEPs)
  4. Alternative (UDI-MODEM, center-right): 10.3% (8 MEPs)
  5. Europe Écologie (greens + ethnic minorities): 9.4% (8 MEPs)
  6. Front the Gauche (left): 6.5% (5 MEPs)
  7. Debout la République (conservative): 3.7% (no MEPs)
  8. Nouvelle Donne: 3.0% (no MEPs)
  9. Worker List: 1% (no MEPs)
Also the Union for the Overseas got one MP, representing the residual colonies.

In brief: the country that the worker assemblies managed to get to a standstill for weeks in the general strike of 2010 has almost overnight turned into the most dangerous fascist nest in Europe, while the Left performs quite poorly (~17%) and looks in clear decline. 

What to do?

Update (May 31): map of most voted list by commune:

black - Fascists (FN), dark blue - UMP, light blue - UDI-MODEM
pink - PS, green - Europe Écologie, red - Left Front
(the top left detail is Greater Paris)

The extremely black coloration of nearly all the Republic should worry even the most phlegmatic.

Source: Liberation (h/t Heraus).


  1. A look at regional votes show that FN vote is strong in the whole of France.

    FN is succeeding in being an alternative to the left in traditional working class areas such as Northern France and an alternative to the liberal right in the South-East. It's unbelievable since those two people don't share anything but a hatred for migrants.

    Still, in the Basque Country one can see a strong developement of an abertzale vote in rural areas, except the coast and the periphery of Bayonne populated by people who fled big towns and settled there this last decade thus introducing a new political sociology based on national debate, foreign to traditional Basque moderantism.

    My home Béarn is losing its political specificity (a mix of christian democracy and moderate socialism) with many villages now voting for FN. The distance with Basque people has never been that great when it comes to votes.

    As for France as a whole, the only solution is to make FN representation in Parliament possible : FN benefits from its position, never in power, never having to assume a political role. Let them have some towns like they did 2 months ago, let them be MEP in Brussels, the French people need to know what FN management is about.

    Still, that won't solve France's problems : we are a country living in the nostalgia of grandeur, obsessed with unity, a country which doesn't tolerate the modern face of the world, not even to change it. The young are the ones who vote FN. We are out of History.

    1. Thanks for your interesting remarks, Heraus. I'm really concerned because at European level these elections imply terribly conflicting tendencies. The only thing in common is probably a rejection of "the euro-tyranny" but the way of expressing that is so very different from state to state, country to country, that it is mind-boggling. Naturally a vote to the left implies a rejection of the tyranny of banksters but a vote to the far right or the UKIP is a reaction devoid of any real content because inside or outside EU, with or without immigrants, the far right is going no doubt to apply the law of the banksters with an iron hand.

      As for the divide between the Basque Country and Bearn, yes, you can see it in the electoral map: one is blue and green (UMP vs EE), the other pink and black (PS vs FN). But I personally see that kind of divide even more clear between North and South Navarre, for example.

      As for allowing the FN to rule even locally, I for one am against it: it could work the way you say but most likely will work in the way of "normalizing" them and allowing them to climb positions of power. I'm of the school of "zero tolerance to fascism", it has worked well in this country.

    2. I'd just point out that you can have representation without having power. France's electoral system encourages a rather rigid two-bloc system, and when people get quite justifiably upset with those two blocs they don't have many other options to turn to. By suppressing Front national's representation, they also suppress other less odious alternatives like Front gauche and MoDem. It may decrease Front national's influence in the short term, but I feel it actually increases the risk of them replacing one of the existing blocs and grabbing outright power. France really needs to move away from winner-take-all politics in both its legislature and at the municipal level (with "reinforced" proportionality) before Front national manages to get a majority simply by coming first.

    3. There are two left-leaning "protest" options: the Left Front and Europe Écologie which do get enough support to be in the institutions. But these are not racist nor xenophobic in any way. On the other hand they have programs and policies that promote solidary and constructive socio-economic change, which no doubt clashes with EU and the Troika much more radically than any fascism ever will.

      It is true that the French representation system does favor bipartisan stabilization, as do most other electoral systems, especially Anglosaxon "first gets the post" ones (no second round or any other balance), but that comes as a given and seems difficult to change.

      It is not this system which can suppress the FN's representation. And I'm not advocating for such weak measures at all: I'm all out for democracy but not for the anti-democrats. If you do not accept the basics of democracy: respect, tolerance, compromise with popular power as source of any sort of institutional power, then you are out. If you preach hatred for those who are different just because of skin color, gender or place of birth, totally random accidents on which we have no control, then you are out. And all-out war should be waged if need be against those enemies of Humankind.

      I'm for absolute and total banishment of fascism, exactly the same that we forbid human sacrifice, rape or slavery. They are enemies of the basic foundations of our society and they must be fought with all weapons, physical, legal or social, at hand.

      We cannot tolerate those who don't tolerate, we cannot respect those who don't respect. Zero tolerance against fascism.

      "France really needs to move away from winner-take-all politics"...

      That's for sure. The same applies to Britain, the USA, etc. Said that the French system of double round at least guarantees that people can vote freely in the first round, leaving the "responsible vote" for the second. Something that doesn't happen in the USA or Britain, where voting an unlikely to win candidate is a "waste" in practical terms.

      That's why France does have more plurality of options than the USA or Britain, besides the fact that in the USA candidate registration outside of the twin party is almost impossible in many cases: because in the first round voters can choose widely and that often gives "unlikely" options a chance for the second round.

      I'm not saying that this system is ideal at all but just that it's slightly less evil than the Anglosaxon one, which is almost the antithesis of democracy, leaving all the power to the parties, the lobbies and those who control them from the shadows (the capitalist syndicate).

      Also there are no real proportional systems in Europe that I know of. Most use the D'Hont system that favors larger parties over the small ones and create small voting districts that amount to gerrymandering in favor of the bourgeois twin party and the local caciques.

      "... before Front national manages to get a majority simply by coming first".

      That would be nightmarish, right? The French system is however too presidentialist for that alone to work. However if they manage to get the presidency that may be the end.

      I would have just declared them illegal long ago and get their leaders and prominent activists in jail for many decades, if not outright executed, on crimes against Humankind basis. But fascism is the fallback line of Capitalism, so we should not expect a Capitalist system to do that at all. Because they do need them: they would be much more worried if it was the FdG which had swept the elections, really.

  2. EELV is formally part of Hollande's coalition. FdG also provided Hollande with support on supply and confidence, so voters may have viewed them as tainted.

    I should probably mention that I'm very active in Fair Vote Canada, so I'm very in favour of ending majoritarian politics here.

    It's not just wasted votes though. If each seat requires 50%+1 from a run-off of some sort, you can still get a majority with just 25% of the vote. If you look at Australia's politics for example, being able to vote "honestly" doesn't seem to help actually get representation.

    It also provides a strong incentive for parties to state their allegiance and form alliances, which I don't think is helpful in providing real choices in the longer term.

    I’d note too that while France has had more parties than both Canada and Britain, they've also had less proportional election results. Not sure why.

    The Dutch and Slovaks use "pure" PR. I don't think there's anything wrong with carving things up into somewhat manageable districts though. It does allow regional interests to get a bit more of a voice after all, which I think is something you and I would want.

    Europe's typical district magnitudes seem to be all over the map. The Nordic countries all seem to be in the 10-15 seats per district range. Spain's the third lowest for PR countries in the EU at 6.9 seats per district. Ireland (4.0) and Malta (5.0) are the only ones lower. It's worth noting that both Ireland and Malta use STV though, which is actually friendlier to smaller parties than D'Hondt.

    When districts are that small then the quota can definitely have an unfortunate effect on smaller parties. Care has to be taken to not go too far in the other direction though, like in Hong Kong. Their quota actually gives an incentive to larger parties to break themselves up into smaller parties to take advantage of a low quota. By doing so, no party won more than a single seat in any constituency.

    Personally I think the Sainte-Laguë method or something like it is best. It seems to be the second most common quota in Europe too. That in combination with some sort of a ranked ballot (perhaps a modification of STV) with open lists would be ideal IMHO. Stéphane Dion has some interesting ideas on that over here, though I suspect your feelings towards his politics may be strong (both for and against). STV has a very good track record at fostering a diverse political system while excluding fascists.
    Re: Presidentialism… Unfortunately that presidential system also favours the status quo. Presidential countries do not have good outcomes on income inequality either. France has actually avoided that to an extent, but at the cost of less social mobility than many other countries.

    Re: banning fascists and capitalism…

    I'm a centre-right kind of guy (with a bit of an eco-capitalist streak) so I'm that’s not something I can address. Unrestrained capitalism would worry me of course. To my mind, capitalism is more just an explanation of human nature than anything else. It assumes that people and corporations will act in their own self interests, which more often than not is true. To me the role of the government is to make sure self interest and public interest are aligned.

    I would suggest that giving the government tools to shut down fascist parties would result in them using those tools against other ideologies they find threatening or offensive as well. Ultimately the line against fascism has to be drawn at the ballot box. If the majority of a country decides it wants fascism, unfortunately that's what it's going to get. We can at least prevent them from taking before without first receiving a majority of votes.
    As the recent Quebec election taught us though, racism and intolerance aren't unique to the right. We all have to be diligent to ensure our own movements don't get hijacked by voices of hate.

    Hope this makes sense. Couldn’t quote you due to space.

    1. The Spanis system is absolutely nightmarish: the basic district is the province, which in most cases has no real meaning other than being an administrative division created from above (much as the French departments) and each province gets:

      → 2 deputies + X by apportionment
      → 4 senators

      Deputies are elected by the D'Hont system (divide the number of votes of each list by 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. until all seats are filled - each fraction counts for the seat assignment independently) while senators are elected by a modified personal ticket method that in practice means that first party gets 3 and second party gets 1 (totally bipartisan).

      So you need to be second in some province to get a single senator and in many provinces to get a single deputy. Third parties are effectively discriminated against, as are those with main base in the more populated urban areas (rural provinces are clearly over-represented, what means strong support for cacique politics, favoring the all-Spain Right in general terms).

      Personally I think you need a very large representative body with short terms and the possibility of immediate recall at any moment if the delegate doesn't follow the mandate. That means strong local and regional democratic bodies from which the popular power emanates from bottom to top and not vice versa.

      If the power is organized from top to bottom it is always tyranny, even if ameliorated by highly restrictive representation systems and such. The local direct popular organization must be the source of all instances of power and where the buck stops.

      "To my mind, capitalism is more just an explanation of human nature than anything else. It assumes that people and corporations will act in their own self interests, which more often than not is true".

      Corporations do. Their interest is hostile to democracy, except for pseudo-representative systems that may help to keep social peace by performance of a semblance of democracy which is not real at all.

      "I would suggest that giving the government tools to shut down fascist parties would result in them using those tools against other ideologies they find threatening or offensive as well".

      Maybe. I don't think it should be a central government matter mostly but a grassroots self-government one. If you are and act like a fascist, then you become a pariah and may be punished for it, exactly the same as a rapist and other anti-social individuals. We must treat fascism as a disease and/or a crime.

      "Ultimately the line against fascism has to be drawn at the ballot box."

      The problem there is that when they eventually reach power (and they will, read my lips) there are no more ballots. That's not how you deal with tyrants, criminals and psychopaths.

      "If the majority of a country decides it wants fascism, unfortunately that's what it's going to get."

      That's never ever happened. Even Hitler needed first to ban the Communist Party, gather the support of the Weimar Right and organize fraudulent "elections".

      There is right and duty to fight against tyranny, when it happens but also preventively, by all means necessary. If you adopt the "tolerant" approach, then they will grow and eventually commit all kind of heinous crimes, if you kick their balls hard since day zero, then they will hide in their dirty holes and not show up again for years or decades. It must be a sustained effort but it works very well.

      "As the recent Quebec election taught us though, racism and intolerance aren't unique to the right".

      They are much more concentrated on that side. I'm not privy on the details on how the Quebec election shows anything.

    2. In the most recent Quebec election, the Parti Quebecois' central plank in its platform was a "Charter of Values" that would ban all religious "symbols" for anyone employed by the government for reasons of secularism, but made exemptions for any symbols dear to Christians for "historical" reasons. So the giant cross on top of Mount Royal stays, but if the guy who cleans it wears a turban, he gets fired. Devolved into lots of really sketchy rhetoric fear mongering about Muslim people and bombs and all kinds of crazy crap. It ended up costing them their only Muslim MP, who now says that she is a federalist (unionist) as she feels Canada's constitution protects religious freedom, and an independent Quebec would not.

      Of course the PQ's left wing credentials are a bit sketchy. Questions of national identity take priority over almost everything else, so both the Liberals and the PQ end up being all over the map on a lot of issues. The left wing of the PQ was pretty firmly behind this though, and all sorts of left wing academics were shilling for it.

      The good news is one that they lost, and two that a far less racist alternative made gains among sovereigntist (independentist) and left-wing voters.

      The bad news they lost more because they proposed holding another referendum on independence, not realizing that even sovereigntist voters were STRONGLY opposed to another referendum on the independence at this time. Their loss at little or nothing to do with their attempt to scapegoat Muslim, Sikh and Jewish Quebeckers.

      There are other examples of economically left or centre parties going to a dark place when it comes to immigrants and "the other." True Finns are economically left. NZ First is economically centre. It happens unfortunately.

      Counter examples can happen as well. The Conservative Party in Canada figured out quite early that their easiest path back to power was by winning over each and every minority ethnic and religious group in Canada. Their success with this strategy contributed a lot to the decline of my own party, the Liberals.

  3. Updated with a screenshot of the map suggested by Heraus (Liberation).


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