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Euro Elections Show Two Frances, Two Germanies

Political fissures in Europe’s largest powers are becoming more pronounced.

Credit: T.B. photo

Although this website has already furnished sober assessments of the recent EU elections, perhaps I may belatedly add my own two cents with the following observations.

1. Scott McConnell’s identification of the present French right, that is, its two main parties, Rassemblement National and La Reconquête, as Gaullist is entirely correct. The political model for Marine Le Pen, Éric Zemmour, and other French nationalists who are now prominent in French politics was undoubtedly Charles De Gaulle, the creator of the Fourth French Republic and leader of the French Resistance during World War Two. One finds the French right’s warnings against Muslim immigration together with a vigorous defense of French national identity in De Gaulle’s speeches and correspondence. And one certainly doesn’t have to look back to interwar fascist movements, as McConnell shows, to find nationalist sentiments being expressed by French political figures.


2. The French governing class will have to find room in its government for the RN, which won 31.37 percent of the vote in last week’s elections. It is hard to see how Macron can govern, given French political sentiment, without including conservative nationalists. Moreover, France’s leaders can seek such an accommodation without reaching as far to the right as the unabashedly nationalist La Reconquête, which garnered only about 5 percent of the votes in the EU elections. 

3. In any case, Macron will have to move rightward to form a workable government. His Renaissance (formerly En Marche) party, which attracted only about 20 percent of French voters, definitely needs coalition partners to stay in power. If present French leaders continue to observe the ban on an alliance with the excommunicated parties of the right, a dubious practice going back to Jacques Chirac’s presidency in the 1990s, they may have to accept weird allies on the left, namely the Front Populaire

4. This grab bag of leftist remnants, which gained about 20 percent of the French vote, embraces a motley following, including Hamas enthusiasts, Arab-Muslim nationalists, communists, and pro-Israeli socialists. It may be difficult for Macron to break bread with these noisy activists, and it is hard to imagine Macron’s global capitalist administration working together with such hypothetical partners on shared economic programs or a shared immigration policy. Indeed, it may be difficult to imagine these leftist dissenters from different Lefts even meeting in the same room without producing a shouting match. 

5. The former head of the center-right Les Républicains, Éric Ciotti, was ousted from office by his own party after trying to negotiate a working alliance with the RN. Ciotti’s move was attacked by the French media as an attempt to break the cordon sanitaire, which separates “rightwing extremists” from the media-approved “liberal democrats.” Macron would do well to ignore these arrogant gatekeepers and follow Ciotti’s course. Although Macron is hoping that the “snap election” for the French assembly that he’s called will confirm the status quo, there’s a good chance it won’t. 

6. The German elections underscored the existence of two Germanies, a Western urban one heavily influenced by American political and cultural fashions and a more traditional Germany, which has survived in what the Germans call Mitteldeutschland, that region that formerly made up the Communist DDR. The voting patterns in the two parts of the country could not have been more different. In the five Eastern provinces, Sachsen, Thüringen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Brandenburg, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the conservative Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) won about 30 percent, which is a plurality of the votes cast, while the SPD couldn’t finish above fourth place in any East German province. In four of these provinces, the Greens and Party of the Left finished with less than five percent of the vote. The victories of the right in these areas may have been even more dramatic than those achieved by Marine Le Pen in France and Giorgia Meloni in Italy.

7. No comparable conservative victories, however, occurred in Western Germany, even if the socially leftist and environmentally radical Greens plummeted nationwide from 20 percent to 11.9 percent. In Berlin, Hamburg, and other large German cities, the Greens continued to win pluralities. The AfD did little to increase its presence there.

8. An obvious reason for these differences is that Germans who lived under Soviet control were never subject to the moral and cultural “reeducation” that Germans underwent during the American and English postwar occupation. West Germans subsequently inflicted the same kind of reeducation on themselves in an effort to divest themselves of their national past. The Soviets may have been politically oppressive, but made no attempt to wipe out German patriotism; nor did they aim at the disappearance of a German national identity. Rather than demonizing German culture and history, the communist regime directed its fire at capitalism and “American fascism.”

9. The result can be seen in the markedly different values and attitudes that prevail in the two regions. Western Germans are far more inclined than die Ossies (East Germans) to put up with massive Third-World immigration, while West Germans no longer demonstratively oppose the war on national identity that the German government and media have launched. West Germans also seem far more willing to put up with the spiking crime levels in their cities largely caused by immigration. The post–World War Two experiences of the two Germanies continue to present themselves despite their inhabitants’ apparent unification.