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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Nationalism vs Internationalism: France and UK

Mainstream media are finally confirming the new political trend of Nationalism vs Internationalism following the outcome of the 1st round of the French Presidential election. FT, 24 April 2017: "In country after country, the most important political division is no longer between left and right — but between nationalist and internationalist."

The situation in France will be bizarre anyhow as both French Presidential candidates hardly have any seats in Parliament. Mr Macron does not even have a political party yet, just his En Marche! movement. It's really hard to imagine that the June 2017 French parliamentary elections will suddenly bring a majority to one of these current Presidential candidates.

The most interesting aspect of the 1st round is that the cordon sanitaire around Ms Le Pen's National Front has finally broken. For the 1st time, she and her party will join the 2nd round despite only having 2 out of the 577 seats in the French National Assembly. This is a major break-through that should not be underestimated.

Mainstream media claim that Mr Macron will easily win the 2nd round. I'm less sure. Mr Fillon does support Mr Macron which should bring him close to 45%. However, the (anti) views of the successful extreme left candidate Mr Mélenchon are much closer to the views of Ms Le Pen than Mr Macron (Quartz 25 April). Mr Mélenchon even refuses to endorse Mr Macron (TAZ 25 April). That could bring Ms Le Pen close to 40%. The 2nd round could thus be spectacular.

In the great Left-Right Divide of the 19th and 20th century, there was a clear distinction in support for Left and Right. The new divide between Nationalism vs Internationalism seems to be around 50/50 which makes predictions difficult. Karl remarks on FB: "Is every country in the world split along 51/49% lines on major issues now?"

The only exception to this 50/50 phenomenon is in the UK where both the main political parties (ie, Conservatives and Labour) have identified themselves as Nationalist. The Scottish National Party (SNP) might be pro-EU but its name suggests that this is opportunistic (anti-UK). 

Weirdly, no mainstream UK political party leverages on the 48.1% anti-Brexit sentiment, apart from the small Liberal Democrats. Perhaps Ms May may be in for a big and nasty surprise in her (snap8 June 2017 general election. Quite likely, UK Labour will follow the 2017 electoral results of Dutch and French Labour (both around 6%).

The only thing that may save France from humiliation, similarly as The Netherlands on 15 March 2017, is that voters may still disapprove of extreme political views (eg, Le Pen, Wilders). That does not imply that Nationalism has lost, not at all. Nationalism is winning everywhere. Internationalism is still looking for an answer and voters may just allow them a grace period.

“There are two sides to every story—and then there’s the truth”. A saying from Barry Popik's The Big Apple, an etymological dictionary.

Don't Know What Came Over Me (2017) by Mike + the Mechanics