Humor Magazine

In Which 'SoD' Said Something Shrewd

By Davidduff

'SoD' ('Son of Duff' to newcomers and those of you who have not been paying attention) very kindly put his old father up for a night on Friday (or perhaps 'put up with his father' is more accurate!) and over coffee and whisky we settled the problems of the world - waddya mean ya hadn't noticed?!  In the course of our chat he made the point that it was France that would be the deciding factor in the future of Europe and I think he is entirely right.  I have maintained that it would be Italy who would decide the fate of the euro currency but when it comes to the whole European political edifice then France, its progenitor, is its keystone.

By coincidence, today Roger Bootle in The Telegraph confirms 'SoD's prognosis and indicates that Marine le Pen's victory in last week's election has changed the game forever in France.  He reminds us that it is within the very nature of political France to ignore making slight, gradual but fairly frequent adjustments in the Anglo-Saxon manner and instead to go in for very occasional but galvanising eruptions.  According to Mr. Bootle (and 'SoD') such a moment is approaching fast.  Hollande and his socialists are a busted flush but he still has five years - five long years - to continue as president.  The 'Gaulist' opposition are roiled in their own disputes and le Pen's Fronte Nationale has smashed through the middle of them like Guderian's tanks in 1940.  There is real malaise en France not helped by the patient's refusal to face economic realities.  Marine le Pen will not help them.  She and her party are even more statist than other parties with the possible exception of the communists.  Bootle puts it this way:

What is going to happen? I cannot see much prospect of France recovering to match Germany again without really fundamental reform – which French   governments have traditionally been incapable of delivering. Accordingly, France will continue to decline relative to Germany. Interestingly, the recent beneficiary of French voters’ protests, Marine Le Pen, does not want   to open France up to more competition but rather to use withdrawal from the   EU to strengthen the powers of the French state to overrule market forces.   This does not bode well.

Indeed, far from being part of the hard northern core of the euro, France is increasingly coming to resemble the soft southern underbelly. Accordingly,   for how much longer can the Franco-German “motor” continue to drive the EU?   Won’t Germany increasingly realize its own strength and want to break free   from its shackles to France? And won’t France increasingly resent the   increased power of her neighbour?

I don’t know how this is going to happen or when but I suspect that we are   coming close to one of those periodic explosions that have shaped French history. When this happens the EU will never be the same again.

However, before we fall prey to terminal smugness we should remind ourselves that French revolutions have a dire effect everywhere, especially to their near neighbours.  Is it possible to hope that our top civil servants and their political masters are even now thinking ahead strategically and making plans for a post-EU Europe?  Er, take that as a 'no', shall I?

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