6 May 2012

History as France, Greece and Serbia go to polls

A tremendous air of excitement here in Paris. Even before getting here, it was clear that French society is profoundly different from our own.

St Pancras International, boarding the Eurostar, all the staff are French. Every one of them that I encountered was going to vote, either in the London Borough of Camden or in Kensington.

There are, they claimed, 100,000 French voters in London, and they all expect to queue, as they did in the first round of the French presidential elections, for several hours.

But it’s not just France that’s voting today, but Greece and Serbia. The Serb election is interesting because it is the first in which the independence of Kosovo does not seem to have been an issue.

Greece foreshadows an unprecedented event in which the two parties that have dominated Greek politics for as long as anyone can remember, both look likely to be ground to electoral dust.

The extremes – the Communists and the extreme right wing – are likely to generate together 15-20 per cent of the poll, and a myriad small parties together are likely to produce a pretty anarchic outcome. An outcome that could send shockwaves through the eurozone and see Greece’s own departure from it.

Here in France, you have a straight right-left contest for the presidency, and plenty of personality to boot. And yet everyone you talk to here thinks nothing too much will change.

That’s not the view of the eurozonistas encamped in Frankfurt, who fear that if Mr Hollande wins he will follow up on his word to try to renegotiate the processes for reforming the eurozone itself.

On the lighter side, if he does win, Mr Hollande will become the first president of any country to be called by the name of another.

We shall be live in Paris, Athens and London tonight, and we’re on at 6.30. I don’t usually ask you to join us when I’m blogging, but today I do. It’s a moment of history for all our tomorrows.

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14 reader comments

  1. Aisling W says:

    I wish we could start again with a clean slate here in Ireland, we’re in complete shambles, but the Irish way is not to take to the streets & storm the Dail, we just elect a new bunch of self-serving crooks and complain when things get worse instead of better! Total mess.

    1. Mudplugger says:

      Sadly a ‘clean state’ is but a pipe-dream and always will be.

      The fact that we all ‘just elect a new bunch of self-serving crooks’ is only a small part of the problem. We are actually ruled by a bunch of un-elected self-serving crooks based in Brussels, but who allow the continuing pretence of sham democracy in their client-states just to con the people into thinking they’ve actually got a choice. Remember your repeat referendums in Ireland ? Bit of a clue there.

      As will continue to be evident in post-election Greece and France (and others), if the client-state fails to behave, a ‘Gauleiter’ will soon be installed to ensure that it does. Repeat elections may even occur as ‘cover’, but they are only ever window-dressing, so the real plan remains unobserved by the proles.

      How long will we remain pliant and swallow this offensive state of affairs ? Probably until we work out that they don’t actually have enough police, army and water-cannon to stop us.

      No-one ever gives you power, you have to seize it – they’ve covertly seized it over the past decades, it’s fast becoming time to seize it back.

  2. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    Unfortunately I was working at 6.30 pm, so I will put my excuse on the blogsite in an antiphonal response.
    Is Hollande going to take over the Eurozone of the future then ? It seems a quirky parallel twist which would make Rotterdam leaders in the freer world yet again.
    France is different . It is passionate.We all have heard about the temprament ofthe Parisians(who we don’t understand).Why should there be surprise over a spilling over into politics?

    Oh well .. Whos going to do it for fwance?

    Greece fragmented, without a huge cut of the support for someone or political ethos , somewhere would be a colourless kalaeidoscope(if that is possible)of potential social implosion.
    What do the Greek want ? jobs and money….that is all many want .. who can they blame for the lack of these necessities.

    I will never be able to get my head around the disintegration of yugoslavia, that idyllic place I visited in the 1960’s and can’t even begin to engage in political boundaries and structure..too many died.. senselessly.

  3. anon says:

    The move towards socialism is gaining momentum because it appeals to many who are currently not achieving in society. In other words less work, more benefits and more government spending. Simplistic maybe but largely true.

    I was talking to someone who told me in all seriousness as if he was uttering pearls of wisdom that computer skills are important today. The mind boggles. Perhaps it is time for more than one vote for those who have achieved educationally [and possibly in other spheres]How can an informed decision be made from such naivety.

    1. Saltaire Sam says:

      Err, could it not be that those with advantages are already far enough in charge that they don’t need another vote to cement their hegemony?

      Take our Eton/Oxford educated PM, whose wealth was inherited from his tax-dodging dad and whose only job – in PR – started at 90k pa thanks to his aristocratic mother in law.

      Not all socialists are looking for less work and more hand outs. The vast majority just want a fair reward for the work they do, and for people like Philip Green to pay tax just as they have to.

  4. Bob says:

    Hopefully we will see socialism making a mark in the U.K. also as a way of getting back the peoples rights from the corporations. Good for France!

  5. adrian clarke says:

    it,is an interesting and not surprising turn of events,that given the opportunity,countries are rejecting the austerity methods of a profligate organisation the EU.
    An undemocratic organisation,itself apperently not founded on the need for budgetry restaint, yet seeking to control those within its juristriction.The UK is lucky not to be part of the sigle currency,and although we will be effected by the collapse of the Euro,we can now sit back and watch the folly of electing a Socialist government,before we have our own chance in three years time

  6. Saltaire Sam says:

    More people might vote in the UK if the we had a better quality of candidates offering hope rather than more austerity.

    Brits have often sucked it up during bad times – the Blits for example – because there seemed a purpose, that what they were putting up with might lead to something better.

    But the current austerity created by self-serving bankers, is leading nowhere, except to the same bankers getting richer while the rest of us suffer.

    And the politicians do nothing about it. They are quick to put in train measures to curb the poor – VAT instantly went up, benefits down and services cut.

    But they are still only talking about what they are going to do about bank regulation and meanwhile have given top rate tax payers an enormous tax cut.

    I watched Obama’s speech in Ohio and while he admitted he hasn’t solved all the problems, his message was basically one of hope. British politicians, in contrast, talk in terms of yet more pain piled on pain with the only bright spots the financially wasteful jubilee and olympics.

    Where is the vision?

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Obama’s hope is similar to the Socialist dream,built on more borrowing and an ever higher deficit.In the end the only people who pay are those least able,w/out the safeguards

  7. Karen D says:

    What the hell’s going on? Only 10 minutes of news today – why?

    I didn’t watch the BBC coverage because I was waiting for the Channel 4 News which I prefer. And now I feel cheated.

  8. Caliban says:

    The UK government should take a few full page ads in Le Monde inviting French Businessmen to relocate their businesses in the UK.

    With a 75% top rate of income tax I would expect quite a few takers.

  9. Moonbeach says:

    Let’s hope that the debacles that are the French and Greek elections will see the return of the EC to the European Free Trade Area.

    Political unity has always been impossible!

  10. Tanya Spooner says:

    I am quite excited by the two European elections, because their results imply that things are not going to fall into place as Germany demands. At the same time as the Arab dictatorships are faltering, the Euroean world is seeming to fracture, and I keep thinking of Karl Marx’s prediction that capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. I don’t know whether these apparent cracks in the surface of financial power bases will result in an improvement in world management, but I do find the possibility of major changes quite exciting. I know this may be naive of me…..

  11. Kes says:

    The election results seem to point to further and accelerating collapse of the idiotic Euro experiment. Of course voters don’t like austerity! No surprise there. The surprise is how long the Eurocrats in Brussels have been able to suck out taxpayers’ money to finance their lovely life and their utopian dream.

    The EC is becoming increasingly inappropriate and useless. A rapid return to a multi-currency European Free Trade Area is long overdue. As power were returned to the nations, voters might turn out to elections again.

    However, I rather fear that the Euro-elite will hang on to their statist powers and continue to lead us down the path to ruin and a dictatorship of the unelected.

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