President Nicolas Sarkozy’s re-election campaign in France is getting a little desperate, and more than a little ugly. Although new polls show him the likely top vote-getter in next month’s first-round voting, they also show him running well behind François Hollande of the Socialist Party in the decisive May runoff. To try and close that gap, Mr. Sarkozy has been fishing for far-right voters by assailing foreign immigrants, foreign imports and even the dietary laws of French Muslims.
Mr. Sarkozy may think it is smart politics to pander to racism and xenophobia. He has done it before. And, sadly, his harsh new tone has given him a quick boost in the polls. But it is damaging to French society. And it may prove a mixed political blessing in May. Many French voters already think that he lacks presidential dignity.
Times are tough in France, but Mr. Sarkozy could have run a more elevated campaign. He has domestic achievements (pension reform) and international achievements (Libya). His main opponent, Mr. Hollande, has vague ideas and unrealistic economic proposals.
Instead, Mr. Sarkozy has chosen the low road. At a packed rally on Sunday, he attacked European Union trade rules, which he said had opened French markets to “savage” competition, and called for a protectionist “buy European” rule for public spending that would raise costs and invite retaliation. He also threatened to suspend French participation in Europe’s 25-nation open border agreement unless others did more to keep illegal immigrants and refugees out of Europe. A few days earlier, he had attacked legal immigration, promising a 50 percent cut in admissions for family reunification.
In a particularly vile gambit from a man who already brags about banning the burqa in public and Muslim-style street prayer, Mr. Sarkozy now pledges to protect French consumers from unknowingly eating halal meat, slaughtered in accordance with Muslim dietary codes. He called for legislation requiring all meat labels to note the slaughtering methods used. This proposal originally came from Marine Le Pen, the presidential candidate of the unabashedly xenophobic National Front. Mr. Sarkozy first rightly called it frivolous. Then he adopted it.
Five million to six million Muslims now live in France, almost a tenth of the total population. It is cruel to keep family members from joining them and cruel and destructive to subject their religion to mockery. Ms. Le Pen is currently running third in the polls. Regrettably, Mr. Sarkozy has no problem being frivolous or cruel if it means he can peel away some of her voters.
This is an Op-Ed written by Dr. Amartya Sen for the NYTimes. Dr. Sen is Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, at Harvard University and was until 2004 the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is also Senior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. Earlier on, he was Professor of Economics at Jadavpur University Calcutta, the Delhi School of Economics, and the London School of Economics, and Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University. To top this already impressive resume, Dr. Sen Nobel was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in economic sciences for his work on welfare economics and social choice theory. Briefly stated, Dr. Sen is an authority in the field.
The Crisis of European Democracy
By AMARTYA SEN
May 22, 2012Cambridge, Mass.
IF proof were needed of the maxim that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the economic crisis in Europe provides it. The worthy but narrow intentions of the European Union’s policy makers have been inadequate for a sound European economy and have produced instead a world of misery, chaos and confusion.
There are two reasons for this.
First, intentions can be respectable without being clearheaded, and the foundations of the current austerity policy, combined with the rigidities of Europe’s monetary union (in the absence of fiscal union), have hardly been a model of cogency and sagacity. Second, an intention that is fine on its own can conflict with a more urgent priority — in this case, the preservation of a democratic Europe that is concerned about societal well-being. These are values for which Europe has fought, over many decades.
Certainly, some European countries have long needed better economic accountability and more responsible economic management. However, timing is crucial; reform on a well-thought-out timetable must be distinguished from reform done in extreme haste. Greece, for all of its accountability problems, was not in an economic crisis before the global recession in 2008. (In fact, its economy grew by 4.6 percent in 2006 and 3 percent in 2007 before beginning its continuing shrinkage.)
The cause of reform, no matter how urgent, is not well served by the unilateral imposition of sudden and savage cuts in public services. Such indiscriminate cutting slashes demand — a counterproductive strategy, given huge unemployment and idle productive enterprises that have been decimated by the lack of market demand. In Greece, one of the countries left behind by productivity increases elsewhere, economic stimulation through monetary policy (currency devaluation) has been precluded by the existence of the European monetary union, while the fiscal package demanded by the Continent’s leaders is severely anti-growth. Economic output in the euro zone continued to decline in the fourth quarter of last year, and the outlook has been so grim that a recent report finding zero growth in the first quarter of this year was widely greeted as good news.
There is, in fact, plenty of historical evidence that the most effective way to cut deficits is to combine deficit reduction with rapid economic growth, which generates more revenue. The huge deficits after World War II largely disappeared with fast economic growth, and something similar happened during Bill Clinton’s presidency. The much praised reduction of the Swedish budget deficit from 1994 to 1998 occurred alongside fairly rapid growth. In contrast, European countries today are being asked to cut their deficits while remaining trapped in zero or negative economic growth.
There are surely lessons here from John Maynard Keynes, who understood that the state and the market are interdependent. But Keynes had little to say about social justice, including the political commitments with which Europe emerged after World War II. These led to the birth of the modern welfare state and national health services — not to support a market economy but to protect human well-being.
Though these social issues did not engage Keynes deeply, there is an old tradition in economics of combining efficient markets with the provision of public services that the market may not be able to deliver. As Adam Smith (often seen simplistically as the first guru of free-market economics) wrote in “The Wealth of Nations,” there are “two distinct objects” of an economy: “first, to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or, more properly, to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services.”
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Europe’s current malaise is the replacement of democratic commitments by financial dictates — from leaders of the European Union and the European Central Bank, and indirectly from credit-rating agencies, whose judgments have been notoriously unsound.
Participatory public discussion — the “government by discussion” expounded by democratic theorists like John Stuart Mill and Walter Bagehot — could have identified appropriate reforms over a reasonable span of time, without threatening the foundations of Europe’s system of social justice. In contrast, drastic cuts in public services with very little general discussion of their necessity, efficacy or balance have been revolting to a large section of the European population and have played into the hands of extremists on both ends of the political spectrum.
Europe cannot revive itself without addressing two areas of political legitimacy. First, Europe cannot hand itself over to the unilateral views — or good intentions — of experts without public reasoning and informed consent of its citizens. Given the transparent disdain for the public, it is no surprise that in election after election the public has shown its dissatisfaction by voting out incumbents.
Second, both democracy and the chance of creating good policy are undermined when ineffective and blatantly unjust policies are dictated by leaders. The obvious failure of the austerity mandates imposed so far has undermined not only public participation — a value in itself — but also the possibility of arriving at a sensible, and sensibly timed, solution.
This is a surely a far cry from the “united democratic Europe” that the pioneers of European unity sought.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE EST ELU PRESIDENT
Ambiance à Tulle à l’annonce des résultats
More detailed results: Paris
- François Hollande l’emporte dans le 2e (57,6%), le 3e (61,35%), le 4e (54,96%), le 5e (56,22%), le 9e (54,19%), le 10e (69,39%), le 11e (67,76%), le 13e (65,27%), le 14e (60,26%), le 18e (70,31%), le 19e (67,64%) et le 20e arrondissement (71,83%).
- Nicolas Sarkozy arrive en tête dans le 1er (52,17%), le 6e (57,66%), le 7e (71,76%), le 8e (72,47%), le 15e (54,50%), le 16e (78,01%) et le 17e arrondissement (58,22%).
More detailed results:
- A Sablé (Sarthe), la ville de François Fillon, Nicolas Sarkozy recueille 52,89% des voix, contre 57,16% en 2007.
- A Saint-Quentin (Aisne), ville dont Xavier Bertrand est maire, François Hollande (54,18%) devance largement Nicolas Sarkozy (45,82%).
- A Troyes (Aube), où François Baroin est maire, Nicolas Sarkozy (50,39%) compte seulement 171 voix d’avance sur François Hollande.
- A Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle), fief de Nadine Morano, où Nicolas Sarkozy était arrivé en tête il y a cinq ans, François Hollande (55%) compte dix points d’avance sur le président sortant.
- Au Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire), ville dont Laurent Wauquiez est maire, François Hollande (55,89%) arrive très nettement devant Nicolas Sarkozy.
- A Chaumont (Haute-Marne), ville de Luc Chatel, François Hollande arrive également en tête avec 51,85% des voix.
UPDATE 26: (RTS) Comme l’annonçaient tous les sondages, François Hollande deviendra bien le nouveau président de la République française à l’issue du deuxième tour du scrutin présidentiel ce dimanche. Il a remporté, selon les premières estimations (pas encore définitives), entre 52,5% et 53,3% des voix contre 46,7% à 47,5% pour son adversaire, Nicolas Sarkozy, le président sortant qui devrait donc quitter donc l’Elysée le 15 mai prochain.
UPDATE 25: EXPLOSION DE JOIE RUE SOLFERINO
UPDATE 24: 19H09– AGENCE FRANCE PRESS (AFP): FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE ÉLU PRESIDENT DE LA REPUBLIQUE
UPDATE 23: (LE MATIN) NOUVEAUX CHIFFRES CONFIRMANT, VOIRE AFFINANT LA VICTOIRE DE LA GAUCHE: ENTRE 52,7 ET 53,3% DES VOIX POUR VOIX POUR FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, SELON LH2 (LOUIS HARRIS), 53,3% POUR INTERACTIVE, 52% SELON CSA.
UPDATE 22: 19:01 (RTBF) LE JOURNALISTE DE LA RTBF DECLARE, “C’EST PLIE, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE LE PROCHAIN PRESIDENT DE LA FRANCE”
UPDATE 21: 18h55 (RTBF) : FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE AURAIT GAGNÉ LES ÉLECTIONS PRÉSIDENTIELLES. La fourchette reste a déterminer quand même
UPDATE 20: 18h51: La foule crie victoire rue de Solférino, le siège de PS, alors que l’ambiance est plus tendue à la Mutualité, où Nicolas Sarkozy doit s’exprimer.
UPDATE 19: 18H49: RTBF CALLED THE ELECTION FOR FRANCOIS HOLLANDE. THE ONLY THING THAT STILL TO BE DETERMINED IS THE EXTENT OF THE VICTORY.
UPDATE 18: 18H47: Pierre Moscovici, directeur de campagne de François Hollande: «On ressent de l’émotion, on attend».
UPDATE 17: 18h37: Selon le journal Suisse, Le Matin, “La victoire de François Hollande se confirme”
UPDATE 16: 18h01: selon l’entourage de François Hollande, le socialiste s’envolera de Brives à destination de Paris à bord d’un avion privé aux alentours de 22h, quel que soit le résultat.
UPDATE 15: 18h00: des proches de Nicolas Sarkozy arrivent à l’Elysée: sa porte-parole Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet et son conseiller spécial Henri Guaino.
UPDATE 14: 18h00–LES TENDANCES DES 3 INSTITUTS DONNENT TOUJOURS FRANCOIS HOLLANDE EN TETE AVEC 52% ET 53%.
UPDATE 13: 17h00 (selon RTS et RTFB) SONDAGES DES SORTIES DES BUREAUX DE VOTE SELONG LES 3 GRANDS INSTITUTS DE SONDAGE.
HARRIS: FRANCOIS HOLLANDE 53%, NICOLAS SARKOZY 47%
IFOP: FRANCOIS HOLLANDE 52.5%, NICOLAS SARKOZY 47.5%
SOFRES: FRANCOIS HOLLANDE 53%, NICOLAS SARKOZY 47%
UPDATE 12: Selon le Ministere de l’Interieur, le taux de participation a 17h00 etait de 71.96%
A bit of humor to relax the tension of this electoral night
En directe de la frontiere Franco-Suisse
UPDATE 11: On commence à s’affairer devant le siège du Parti socialiste, rue de Solférino à Paris.
UPDATE 10: 16h52 (Tweets des correspondants de la RTS) Des militants commencent à arriver à la Bastille, où François Hollande avait prévu de faire la fête en cas de victoire. Des écrans géants commencent à être installés
UPDATE 9: (source: Le Monde, RTBF, RTS) François Hollande, s’il est élu président, devrait avoir dans la soirée un échange avec la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel, a indiqué un de ses plus proches ami, Jean-Marc Ayrault, le maire de Nantes (ouest).
UPDATE 8: a 16h30 (source RTS) On commence à s’affairer devant le siège du Parti socialiste, rue de Solférino à Paris, comme le montre ce cliché de France Télévisions:
UPDATE 7: a 16h10 (source RTS) Nicolas Sarkozy se trouve à son bureau de l’Elysée, où il doit attendre les résultats du scrutin en compagnie de ses conseillers.
UPDATE 6: RESULTATS DES AMERIQUES (SOURCES: RTBF, RTSINFO)
Voici un premier apercu des résultats partiels des Amériques. La participation a augmentè en moyenne de 3 a 4% par rapport au 1er tour. En règle générale, François Hollande fait le plein des voix de gauche et gagne environ le tiers des voix de François Bayrou.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE gagne à Montreal (près de 57,74%), à Toronto (51% – la gauche n’y avait jamais triomphe), au Pérou (55%), en Argentine (51,7%), en Colombie (58,82%) et au Honduras (56%). Il comble l’ecart avec la droite au Mexique (47,3%), au Bresil (47% – ou il gagne à Rio, Brasilia et Recife), au Costa Rica (44,1%) et au Chili (44%).
UPDATE 5: (SOURCES: RTBF, RTSINFO) Selon les premières tendances et les sondages de sortie des urnes de 3 grand instituts de sondages, François Hollande serait en tête
UPDATE 4: (SOURCES: RTBF, RTSINFO) RESULTATS DES DEPARTEMENTS D’OUTRE-MER
Nous avons les premiers résultats pour le second tour de la présidentielle française en provenance des départements d’Outre-mer.
Saint-Pierre et Miquelon: François Hollande 65%, Nicolas Sarkozy 35% ;
Martinique: Francois Hollande 68,5%, pour Nicolas Sarkozy 35.1%
Guadeloupe: François Hollande 72%
Guyane: Francois Hollande 62%
Saint-Martin: François Hollande avec 51,5 %, tandis que Nicolas Sarkozy ne serait en tête que dans la petite île de Saint-Barthélémy, avec près de 83% des voix exprimées.
UPDATE 3: INFORMATION RTBF–Trois grands instituts de sondages annoncent donc le candidat socialiste François Hollande en tête avec entre 52,5 et 53% des voix. Cela dit ces résutats ne portent que sur les votes du matin (jusqu’à 11h) et il faut encore tenir de la traditionnelle marge d’erreur. Ces résultats sont donc encore à prendre avec précautions à ce stade.
UPDATE 2: RTSINFO– Selon des sondages effectués à la sortie d’une série de bureaux de vote, deux instituts donnent actuellement François Hollande vainqueur de l’élection présidentielle française avec une majorité de 52,5 à 53% des voix.
UPDATE 1: Le taux de participation était, dimanche à midi, de 30,66% en métropole, selon le ministère de l’Intérieur. Ce taux est en baisse par rapport à celui enregistré à la même heure en 2007 (34,11%, marqué il est vrai par une forte mobilisation). Au premier tour le 22 avril dernier, ce taux avait atteint les 28,29% à midi.
We welcome our readers from all over the world. I see that you are already hit the “refresh button” hard and i think there will be thousands of you from France, Europe, and Africa. I promise you that we will be starting our live coverage of the first estimations and exit polls now. Buckle up, this is going to be a “close” right. Let’s Go!
France: Est-ce que l’anti-immigrant et la rhétorique de campagne islamophobe fomentent antisémitisme en France?
Courtesy of Juan Cole
As French police launch a massive manhunt for the person who shot down a rabbi, his two children, and another child outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, the modus operandi of the killer raises a chilling prospect. There had been similar shootings of French soldiers in the area, but the troops, three of whom were shot dead by a similar weapon by a motorcyclist, were of North African or Caribbean origin. Police are looking both at a the French far-right and at Muslim extremists as possible perpetrators. In the former case, the French political atmosphere would be implicated. [Update: As it turns out, it may be the latter: a potential suspect has been cornered, who was motivated by al-Qaeda-style extremism, the mother of all intolerant rhetoric. It is a little disturbing that his killing of 3 French troops (if it was he), two of them Muslim, is gradually dropping out of the press reporting. This breaking development does not, as some tweep suggested, blunt the force of the rest of this post, below.]
Immigrants and especially Muslims have been frequent targets of racism and racist rhetoric in French politics. President Nicolas Sarkozy was behind in the polls recently when he made up some ground with some strident rhetoric about too-free immigration inside the European Union. There are, he thundered, “too many foreigners in France.” (Hint: French antisemites view Jews as foreigners). Sarkozy has been accused of legitimating the National Front of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen by essentially stealing some of her anti-immigrant rhetoric. Indeed, he seems to be attracting her supporters.
It is in this hothouse atmosphere where it is being alleged that some French (non-Catholics, non-Gaulois) are less French than others, and are, indeed, undesirables within the French body politic, that the brutal murders of Jews outside Ozar ha-Torah in Toulouse took place.
Those on the Zionist far right who deliberately and systematically attempt to foment hatred of Muslims, are always in danger of at the same time promoting antisemitism. The same resentments, the same sordid politics and racist rhetoric, come into play for both. Sarkozy, by dirtying the Gaullist tradition with Le-Pen-iste rhetoric, is creating an atmosphere of intolerance in France that may not be entirely unrelated to the murders of innocent children and a man of God in Toulouse.
Controversy surrounding my last post titled “Mohammed Merah, la victime de la République”
Apparently, my last post on Mohammed Merah has caused some controversies. Some people are shocked by the use of the word victim and Merah in the same sentence. I am told that at the dailykos, i have earned the status of an apologist for Merah’s actions, and have been accused of trying to explain away his horrible acts and justify them. Of course, i am not doing that and anyone who has 2 fully functioning neurons had already understood that. Well, i do not have the time right now to write a proper reply in my own defense, though i really don’t need any nor do i feel the need to justify myself to people who have no idea what i am talking about, but i would like to say that the day we stop trying to understand our actions, and we stop trying to understand and explain horrible events–no matter how horrible they are–is the day we lose our humanity. And if we reach that day, we might as well load a gun and shoot ourselves in the head and get it over with.
France: Après “Nicolas Le Pen” du Wall Street Journal, voici “Sarkozy sur la route de la bassesse” du New York Times.
In less than 2 days, Nicolas Sarkozy performed a miracle; he brought the editorial page of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal together. Something that we have not seen in a while and we are not about to see any time soon. Indeed, the WSJ editorial page, a bastion of the right and conservatism, has rarely agreed on anything with the editorial page of the NYTimes. Well, Sarkozy’s awfully xenophobic campaign was something that the American left and right agreed to disagree with. Ugly, xenophobic, desperate, racist, radical, divisive, anti-Muslim, frivolous and so on are only a few adjectives used by the NYTimes and the WSJournal editorialists to describe Sarkozy’s campaign. These are journalists and columnists who are used to the rough and tumble American style of politics, and yet they stand bewildered by what Sarkozy and his team have been doing and saying during this campaign.
March 14, 2012
Mr. Sarkozy on the Low Road
Yesterday, in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, i read one of the most damning Op-Ed pieces that i have ever read about a politician. The Wall Street Journal, which can hardly be accused of sympathizing with the left or described as a bastion of liberalism, especially its editorial pages, literally indicted Nicolas Sarkozy as an extreme right candidate. Their reasons? Well, Sarkozy has gone so far to the right in his rhetoric that he is no longer a representative of the mainstream right, but a representative of the radical right. According to the WSJ, Sarkozy can no longer be distinguished from Marine or Jean Marie Le Pen.
Instead of summarizing the editorial piece, i let you read it and make up your mind.
- REVIEW & OUTLOOK EUROPE
- March 13, 2012
Nicolas Le Pen
Even by local standards, the French President’s recent burst of xenophobia is pretty cynical.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ramped up the anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent days, telling a TV audience last week that France has “too many foreigners” and offering to cut the number of immigrants admitted to France by half should he be re-elected to a second term. Then on Sunday, before a monster rally in a stadium near Paris, he threatened to suspend France’s participation in Schengen, Europe’s internal borderless-travel zone, unless it is reformed to better keep out the great unwashed.
Even in France, it rarely gets more cynical than this. The attacks on immigration are an attempt to woo supporters of Marine Le Pen’s xenophobic National Front ahead of the first-round poll on April 22. Mr. Sarkozy trails his Socialist rival, Francois Hollande, 29% to 27%, according to a recent poll for Paris Match magazine. Ms. Le Pen comes in third at 17%. Little wonder that’s where the Sarkozy camp is now mining for votes.
Associated PressFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy
Still, the immigration talk is mainly a cover for French anxiety over their increasingly rickety welfare state. Mr. Hollande’s answer for keeping the system afloat is a 75% top marginal income-tax rate, which may do something for emigration but won’t do anything to improve France’s budgetary health. Mr. Sarkozy, by contrast, argues that “at a time of economic crisis, if Europe doesn’t control who can enter its borders, it won’t be able to finance its welfare state any longer.”
This is an ugly thought, not only for the ugly sentiments on which it plays but also as a textbook example of economic illiteracy. Not least among the threats to France’s welfare state is an aging (and increasingly long-lived) population and a birth rate that—while the highest in Europe—is still below the replacement rate. Barring fundamental cultural changes, only immigration can maintain an active work force large enough to pay for the growing rolls of pensioners and dependents.
The real task for the French government is to ensure that those immigrants are assimilating properly, and to create economic conditions in which they can thrive with the rest of France. Mr. Sarkozy no doubt understands that. But we wonder if Mr. Sarkozy also understands that transparent displays of cynicism like this one have brought him to his current political predicament.