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FT fears the Left's future final victory

by DoDo 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.

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Credit for this story goes to Jérôme, who pointed to the Munchau piece and supplied further links.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 05:54:09 AM EST
I see the reference to the '68 generation as a soft dig to 'hippies' being the cause of the drift to the left. There's so many of them, you see.

And Kouchner has never been a socialist, as far as I know. When he was invited to join socialist government, he represented 'civil society', i.e. he was part of ouverture from the left (his presence them did not make those governments be described as 'as close to a grand coalition as is possible').

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 06:08:16 AM EST
OK, I'll edit the diary, as well as the English Wiki article on him...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 06:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, someone edited it just when I wanted! Was it you or Migeru? ;-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 06:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh?

Check the article history...

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 06:31:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, apparently, it was a cached version I saw, 'socialist politician' was edited out by some user yesterday.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 06:33:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, The Guardian's editor must have read Wiki when s/he wrote this:

he was one of the rare French politicians who spoke out in favour of military intervention in Iraq in 2003, saying he was against war but also against Saddam Hussein's regime.

Unlike the French version, en.Wikipedia had two contradicting paragraphs, one claiming outright support for military intervention, the other correctly quoting that thing about being neither for war nor for Saddam. I edited the former part.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 06:59:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
he was indeed partisan of taking a strong line against Saddam Hussein - in the name of promoting democracy and ending a nasty dictatorship. Like others, he saw the new international attention on Iraq as a way to actually promote democracy. They should have known better with Bush, but at least they have been consistent, as the same intellectuals had been calling for action about Chechnya (i.e. calling Russia to task a lot more seriously than was ever done) and previously against Milosevic.

WMDs were never a big consideration for them, and (sadly) neither was the identity of the party pushing that war. So I would not dumpt him/them in the same bag as the armchair warriors - especially Kouchner who does have credibility as an activist against war.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 09:52:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
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...

That is worthy of broader discussion, but I think it must have something to do with the narratives we have been raised in a the reality shock of the globalised economy.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 06:08:26 AM EST
The next generation is far more likely to vote Right, especially in the UK. They don't even understand progressive ideas ('Public services? What's that then?') never mind believe that they're worth supporting.

And Munchau, who seems to be an idiot, seems to have forgotten that the hippy boomers have reliably shifted to the Right as they've become older. Maybe not as Right as their parents, but certainly a long way from their teenage radicalism.

I think this article is really saying the exact opposite of what it seems to. It's not so much that the Left will prevail, but that there's still a danger that the steady rightward march may be derailed before it becomes unquestioned and absolute.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 10:08:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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