Mon May 21st, 2007 at 05:52:37 AM EST
I recently analysed a Left Swing In Bremen after regional elections in that German state, and similar trends in new polls in the next three states awaiting elections. Meanwhile, Jérôme asked regarding new French President Nicolas Sarkozy's marketista cheerleaders in the Anglo-Saxon business press, How long before they sour on him?
Well, it seems it took just until today. Wolfgang Munchau in the Financial Times took notice of what goes on in the Eurozone's two biggest economies. You already have to love the title:
Europe sways to a centre-right swansong
Much of the article covers stuff analysed on ET, it is as if Munchau became a regular lurker here.
Munchau starts with an unusually frank recognition of something about the French election noted by many on ET, too -- the age factor:
A voting share of 53 per cent sounds impressive. But a closer analysis of the French presidential election throws up a perplexing result. According to Ipsos*, the polling organisation, 18-59 year olds – those who work and pay most of the taxes – overwhelmingly voted for Ségolène Royal, the defeated Socialist candidate. Mr Sarkozy is now the president of France as a result of an extraordinary degree of homogenous political preferences by pensioners. Mr Sarkozy won an unbelievable 68 per cent among those over 70, and 61 per cent among the 60-69 year olds. So much for the notion of generational change. The old crowd in France is still very much in charge.
...While Mr Sarkozy was campaigning on a “back-to-work” ticket, he owed his election victory to people who are no longer in work.
Ha! Note though how the narrative starts to change: the Left is no more the old crowd.
He then discusses another age trend:
Mr Sarkozy also did well in the 25-34 age group, where he managed to win 57 per cent, according to Ipsos. My own explanation is that his promise to modernise the French labour market would benefit this age group disproportionately –
Heh. 'Modernise' the labour market. But he is right: since the 'modernisation' of the labour market would entail cutbacks on social protections and benefits, of couse those needing it least would benefit most.
Still, Munchau fears what will be within a generation:
But the long-term age trend runs against the centre-right. The Socialists may have lost three presidential elections in a row and are currently busy committing political fratricide. But make no mistake: the left in French politics is very much alive.
Then he turns to the "much less noticed" Bremen elections, and the rise of the Greens and the Left Party:
the Linkspartei (Left party) – which, as its name suggests, is a radical party on the far left of the political spectrum.
The Overton Window didn't move as far right in Europe as in the USA, but it did move a good deal.
In my book, far left would be demanding (or preparing) the armed overthrow of the system, or abolishment of the constitution, or paty activists hunting capitalists on the street. Just using the same standards as for the far right. However, despite constant monitoring of East German predecessor PDS (which was the heir to the former One Party) by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution from the Kohl era, no real problems were found. While the West German predecessor, SPD breakaway WASG, essentially collected people with the views of the SPD of decades ago.
Note BTW that by association, Munchau tarred German Greens as extremists, too.
Before noting age trends in Germany similar to those in France (which I showed in the Bremen thread too), Munchau analyses a stable structural majority for the Left (SPD+Greens+Left Party) from 1998, and he, heh, doesn't take comfort from present-day assurances by the SPD to not coalition with the Left Party.
I thought it would be interesting to check on Munchau, and did a graph for all federal elections since WWII:
That's a bit less convincing. But Munchau is not an optimist for his part -- he writes:
as the baby boomers of the ’68 generation start to retire in the coming years... I bet that this group will continue to support the left as they grow older. If this happens, the left in France and Germany can look forward to a big structural majority for many years to come, supported by the young and the old alike.
What I find noteworthy is that, while the "'68 generation" continues to be the Evil One, Munchau automatically assumes the next generations to vote left. He doesn't tell why...
The closing words are all marketista doom and gloom:
It is no coincidence, therefore, that Ms Merkel has turned out to be reluctant to push for reforms. I would expect Mr Sarkozy eventually to shift to the left after some initial “back to work”-type labour market reforms. If not, we can look forward to an accelerated political comeback of the French Socialists – probably under a different name and leadership.
Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy are both exceptional and talented politicians. But I do not buy the argument that they are representatives of a new age of centre-right European politics. I think it is far more likely that they will turn out to be transitional figures in brave defiance of a tectonic shift to the left in their countries.
What can I say, hooray! But, hidden in there, there is a ray of hope for the marketistas.
The meme to note: that Socialist Party 'under a different name and leadership'. This seems to imply hope for (further) centrist shift, maybe Bayrou eating up the centrists in the Socialists. That hope is not unjustified, given large centrist segments of the voter body who never heard of the Overton Window, and see latest poll.
The centrism meme is also pushed hard by FT's editorial, which declares:
If France had grand coalitions, they would presumably look like the cabinet unveiled on Friday by Nicolas Sarkozy – about as close to a national unity government as the fifth republic is likely to get.
Heh, Kouchner, one single former member of Socialist governments, himself never a party member who always travelled on his own road makes a Grand Coalition!... the Overton Window moves as we speak.