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‘For more than 30 years, every French government has lost every election.’

By JOHN LAUGHLAND [The Spectator] – The French political system is terminally sick…For more than 30 years, every French government has lost every election. With a single exception, you have to be over 50 today to have voted in the last election, in 1978, when the incumbent majority held on to power: Nicolas Sarkozy managed to get a conservative majority re-elected in 2007 only because he profiled himself, dishonestly, as a new broom and as a rebel against the roi fainéant, his former mentor Jacques Chirac. Add to this the fact that in 2005 the referendum on the European constitution produced a ‘no ‘vote — that is, a disavowal of the entire political establishment — and you are confronted with a bitter reality: the French electorate hates its politicians and takes every chance to vote against them.

François Hollande’s election last May was therefore not a victory but only his predecessor’s defeat. He was elected with 48 per cent of the votes, if you include spoilt and invalid ballots, and 39 per cent of the registered voters. His election was especially unimpressive considering the widespread revulsion at Sarkozy’s personal bling and at his betrayal of his own voters. But even so, Hollande’s catastrophic poll rating has broken all records. When in March he became the most unpopular president after ten months in office, his rating stood at 31 per cent. Now it is 26 per cent.

The immediate cause of the crisis lies in the dramatic alienation of sections of the electorate who voted for Hollande in May. The overseas populations of the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean, and regions like Brittany where the left is as deeply entrenched as in Scotland, are in revolt over gay marriage: the largest French daily, Ouest-France, based in Rennes, has turned against Hollande on the issue. In addition, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the crypto-communist who ensured Hollande’s election by throwing his support behind him immediately after the first round last May, has now violently abandoned him, albeit over economic policy.

But the deeper explanation for the strength of feeling lies in the fact that, in French law, marriage is indissociable from the right to start a family. There is currently no gay adoption in France and no access for gays or lesbians to medically assisted procreation. These have been legalised to general indifference in Britain, but they are regarded as unacceptable by many in France and as an intolerable attack on the rights of the child. The marches against gay marriage are therefore really marches in favour of the traditional family — and in favour of that ‘normality’ which Hollande promised to bring to presidency but which he has betrayed in favour of the interests of a tiny minority. (Sunday’s demonstration in favour of gay marriage at the Bastille garnered but a few thousand militants.) Even Le Monde admits that normally unpolitical people have been politicised by this issue, to their own and everyone else’s surprise. The 50 per cent of French people polled who say they are in favour of gay marriage evidently do not know what is in the new law, because 56 to 58 per cent say they oppose gay adoption.

The issue, in other words, has touched a nerve in France, a country divided between a globalist elite and a conservative nation, part of which still believes in the family and the state.

Continued at The Spectator | More Chronicle & Notices.


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