David Frum

04.30.12

Euro Riot Watch

Chris Caldwell makes an interesting point in an article in the Weekly Standard about the French presidential elections:

In fact, the major preoccupations of the National Front in recent years, and especially since the party was taken over by Marine Le Pen 18 months ago, have been the erosion of French democracy by the European Union and the erosion of the French economy by globalization (of which immigration is certainly an aspect). The FN has become a protectionist, anticapitalist party of the dislocated working classes. Nonna Mayer, an expert on extremism at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris, estimated this week that Marine Le Pen had won the allegiance of 35 percent of the working class. Polls taken shortly before the first round showed her the top votegetter among the youngest voters .... turning the FN into the natural political home for voters driven out of the two larger parties by an evolving economy. It may be turning the FN into the natural opposition party of France.

We all take for granted the stability of modern European political institutions. The trauma of two world wars and the spasms of colonial insurgencies in Vietnam, Kenya, Algeria, and other hotspots were presumed to have glutted forever the European appetite for adventure. Since the early 1960s, most of Europe has settled into the long dull pleasantness of unification; its consensus politics validated by the fall of communism and German reunification. The Yugoslavian civil wars only underscored the stability elsewhere on the continent.

But 50% youth unemployment will test political stability anywhere. It's impressive there has been so little trouble to date. I wouldn't expect that to continue if Europe prolongs its experiment of sacrificing a generation to save a currency.