It takes a nation to protect the nation
Elections next year, i hope the national front gets a good turn out.
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C Dans l'Air, Catholicism, Dominique Reynié, Global Views on Immigration, Hubert Védrine, Hudson Institute, Ifop, Ipsos, Islam, Jacques Delors, Jérôme Fourquet, Laurent Bouvet, Marianne2, Marine Le Pen, Nicolas Sarkozy, Zaki Laïdi
Hudson Institute Score: Pope 1, Prophet 2
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The respected Washington-based Hudson Institute reports that in France Islam is overtaking Catholicism as the dominant religion, while coincidentally, an Ipsos poll shows 54% of the French believe immigration has been negative for the country.
The incumbent French President - Image via Wikipedia
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This double whammy is certain to be music to Front National leader Marine le Pen’s ears and is likely to herald further voter messaging problems for Nicolas Sarkozy, presidential incumbent in the 2012 election race. It may also be a further sign of the growing gap between Europe’s voters and its ruling elites, a recurring theme now fuelling the rise of populist parties across the EU and causing those of the Left much angst.
The Hudson think tank report says Islamic mosques are being built more often in France than are Roman Catholic churches, and there now are more practising Muslims in the country than practising Catholics.
“Although 64% of the French population (or 41.6 million of France’s 65 million inhabitants) identifies itself as Roman Catholic, only 4.5% (or 1.9 million) of those actually are practising Catholics, according to the French Institute of Public Opinion (or Ifop, as it is usually called). By way of comparison, 75% (or 4.5 million) of the estimated 6 million mostly ethnic North African and sub-Saharan Muslims in France identify themselves as ‘believers’ and 41% (or 2.5 million) say they are ‘practising’ Muslims…” the report, published August 18, adds.
Six days before the Hudson Institute released its findings, an Ipsos Global Views on Immigration survey — little reported in France — showed that among the French questioned, 52% strongly agreed with the statement there were too many immigrants with only 23% strongly disagreeing. The survey (Ipsos is French-owned and globally 5th-ranked as a market research and polling company) said a little more than half the 17,600 participants surveyed thought there were too many immigrants in their countries. The French results were in line with the majority views held by all respondents in the survey while the level of disquiet shown by French respondents was around the mid range of the 23 countries surveyed, Ipsos said. Public opinion was clearly more radical in Russia, Belgium and the UK, where more than 70% of those participating thought there were too many immigrants in their countries while there opposite was true – less than 30% — of those questioned in Poland, South Korea and Japan.
The survey further shows that 41% of the French think that immigrants take their jobs, while 34% think the opposite and 56% say immigrants are a heavy burden on public services. The left-wing website Marianne2 signalled the Left’s alarm at these findings but was more concerned that the survey appeared to have been “entirely ignored by the French mainstream media and left to far-right websites such as Fdesouche.com to report — as if the emergence of a majority opinion hostile to immigrants were a taboo subject…”
The opinions revealed in the Ipsos poll should not surprise anyone who scans debates and reports among mainstream and non-mainstream media and Internet websites where the views of Euro-populists gain far more exposure than they do on national radio, TV or in print.
As the Hudson Institute report goes on to note: “France ushered in Ramadan by inaugurating a new mega-mosque for 2,000 worshipers in Strasbourg, where the Muslim population has reached 15%. Construction also continues apace of a new mega-mosque in Marseilles, France’s second-largest city where the Muslim population has reached 25% (or 250,000). The Grand Mosque … will accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers (and) … is designed to be the biggest and most potent symbol of Islam’s place in modern France.”
Against this background and as Le Parisien reports, the “rentrée politique promises to be a packed eight months of activity ahead of the presidentials”
Former EU President Jacques Delors - Image via Wikipedia
Apart from the Euroland economic meltdown which the Sarkozy-Merkel team has so far failed to halt, the French president will be trying to co-opt French Socialists into voting for additional austerity measures including the Franco-German imposed golden rule on deficits. The PS-Socialists however have already dismissed this appeal as electioneering despite a warning in Le Monde by Jacques Delors (86), one of French Socialism’s elder statesmen, that the euro and the EU are on the edge of collapse.
“Open your eyes” Delors said: “the euro and Europe are at the edge of cliff. To stop them careening over the top the choice is simple: member states must, as I have always advocated, accept deeper economic cooperation, and transfer additional powers to the Union … since the crisis first broke European leaders have failed to grasp the nettle. How can anyone think that the markets will have faith in the outcome of the July 21 EU summit if no concrete actions will be taken until the end of September ?”
Deeper economic cooperation and power transfer is of course exactly what Populists and Marine le Pen oppose and is terrain where the centre-right French government and President Sarkozy himself will be treading delicately in an effort both to staunch a vote transfer to Le Pen while not destroying fragile, fickle if not downright hostile, market confidence.
Indeed earlier in the summer (August 3 in the aftermath of the Norwegian massacre) in a political discussion hosted by Yves Calvi on the France 5 current affairs magazine programme C Dans l’Air, guests Dominique Reynié (a political scientist and researcher at Sciences Po Paris), Laurent Bouvet (a political scientist professor at the University of Versailles) and Jérôme Fourquet (an executive at the market research company Ifop) debated the latest Ifop poll. This showed that Marine Le Pen had the support of 40% of the working class vote, or more than twice the 15-18% that the PS –Socialists could expect to draw in the 2012 presidential elections and three times the support Nicolas Sarkozy could expect — around 13%.
Focusing on why FN support was rising the panellists suggested that Marine le Pen, whom they described as a neo-populist, attracted such strong support from both men and women voters because she defended the idea of national preference in respect of jobs and support for the European way of life against globalisation. This in turn reflected “the failure of the politics of the left seen as doing little to stop foreign workers from taking the jobs of the ‘true French’ . When money is tight a political message that says social security funds are the preserve of the workers who contribute to them, has a very strong appeal” they said. Additionally the FN sounds a chord with voters when it emphasises that a foreign religion, Islam, seeks to impose values which are diametrically opposed to French values and cultural identity. The FN’s anti globalisation discourse linked to defence of popular values is supported by voters concerned about national identity.”
This wider debate in France around globalisation is not restricted to the Far Right. A former French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine worries that while more federalism may be the preferred solution of markets it has little to offer those concerned about democracy. The same website noted that in an op-ed piece in Le Monde, Sciences Po professor Zaki Laïdi described the idea of “de-globalisation”, floated by some leading figures of the French left (such as Arnaud Montebourg and Jean-Luc Mélenchon) as economically inefficient and politically worrying. A similar complaint had been made by World Trade Organization director, Pascal Lamy, for whom the idea was “reactionary.
It may have been a long hot summer in the still unresolved Euro battle, but the Autumn looks set to be no less warm on the domestic political front.
Story: Ken Pottinger
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