Je m'appelle Hugo Chavez
Is France ready for its own Hugo Chavez? Well, ready or not -- here he comes:
Constrained by economic reality and afraid of a nasty reaction from financial markets should he dare let the budget deficit grow, Hollande has turned his back to his electioneering promises, thus deceiving his constituency. He has fallen to unprecedented levels of unpopularity.
This explains why the interior minister, Manuel Valls, has recently expressed concern for the risk of a "social explosion" in France.
All this happens after the long nirvana of political inaction that prevailed during the twelve years of President Jacques Chirac, during which not a single reform ever saw the light of day.
Little wonder that France's political establishment, from left to right, is worn out, discredited and untrusted.
Opinion polls suggest that a growing number of French seem ready to jump into the unknown and place their confidence and hopes in a demagogue willing to redistribute income irrespective of efficiency considerations, let fiscal deficits grow, disregard markets' reactions and impose price and capital controls -- much like Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela.
That's Fabio Rafael Fiallo, writing today in RealClearWorld. Hollande was supposed to be the left-authoritarian, come to save France from all that "Anglo-Saxon capitalism" the country had never actually had. But with his approval at 31% and his options at Nil, it's pretty clear that Hollande has already failed.
Which makes it all the more likely that France's next savior will be a right-authoritarian in the mold of (if not actually) Marine Le Pen. If there's a difference between the two, it's probably just the scapegoats. Hollande blames the rich, Le Pen blames Muslims and Jews. Well, if France still had enough Jews left to count.
I remember reading an alternate history book a dozen years ago or so. It posited a 1920s and '30s where France went all National-Socialist during the Depression, and threatened a weak and divided Germany. Can't remember the name of it, or even if it was a novel or a mock-history. But now it seems more plausible than ever.