Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg, Flickr
The big news out of the French election: Marine Le-Pen, the head of the far right wing National Front party, secured 20 per cent of the vote in the first round of voting.Le-Pen is now out of the race (the runoff on May 6 will be between Sarkozy and Socialist challenger Hollande), but a 20 per cent showing for the anti-immigration, Euroskeptic candidate is a lightning bolt for France and all of Europe.
Sarkozy is now in a desperate situation, where he may have to pander to hardliners in order to win (a move that could alienate more moderate voters).
The other big event in Europe this weekend was in the Netherlands, where a budget deal collapsed thanks to a revolt led by another right winger: Geert Wilders.
The breakdown after seven weeks of talks on austerity measures between Premier Mark Rutte’s ruling coalition and Wilders’ eurosceptic, anti-Islamist Freedom Party (PVV) has destabilized the political scene.
Wilders walked out of the talks on Saturday saying his party “could not live up to” European Union demands, arguing that the cuts aimed at steering The Netherlands back within EU deficit targets would hit the elderly the hardest.
So the Netherlands, a country nobody was talking about, is now without a budget, and without a government. Elections will have to be called soon after the coalition breakdown. UPDATE: Rutte is to offer his resignation.
There’s something that’s worth noting, which is that far-right wing parties in Europe frequently have a tinge of economic liberalism to them. As stated above, Wilders’ party opposed cuts due to the impact on the elderly. Le Pen’s solution would be for France to abandon the Euro (eventually) and monetise its debt through its own currency.
Core Europe has been worried for some time that an election in a peripheral country would produce a result that was anti-Euro. However the latest developments show strength for anti-Euro candidates in core countries.
Big thanks to Naufal Sanaullah for putting the Le Pen and Wilders situations together.
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