Rather than expressing immediately anger or even despair as the representatives of other political currents will surely do, I would first like to point out the positive things that a supporter of the Christian Democrats and Conservatives from the EPP can see.
First, the EPP has a lead of over twenty seats over the socialists. Of course, the EPP has lost a significant number of seats (around sixty) compared to 2009. But the 2009 results were particularly good. In addition, the socialists barely progress, although a neck-to-neck race with the EPP was announced. The EPP, according to estimates I have, is leading in at least half of the Member States, against only three states that have placed the extreme right or other europhobes in the first place and one State (Greece) which placed the extreme left ahead. And this happened despite the surge of extremists in several countries and despite an economic crisis in which several member states are still stuck. The sound management of the economy favoured by the PPE is encouraged; many voters are aware that sacrifices can lead to positive results in the medium and long term.
A semi-good news is, then, the fact that the abstention stopped increasing. While a record abstention was announced, the participation is in the end slightly higher than in 2009. But this should obviously not hide that less than 50% of voters went to the polls, a number that is still too low. The idea of leading European candidates for the Presidency of the Commission was not enough to mobilise the masses; the media deserve a large share of the blame – I will return to that in a few lines. Also, I definitely want to emphasise that the voters who have abstained did not vote for Le Pen, Farage, etc. In other words, they cannot be counted with europhobes, an amalgam that will be made by some commentators, media and politicians!
After the relative satisfaction of the results at European level, I now turn to the disappointment and even some anger about the French result. The media put on the same level the breakthrough of the UKIP, the FN, the Danish far right, the 20% of the FPÖ, the 21% for Grillo’s Five Star Movement, etc. But the French case is isolated, with the exception of Denmark. Indeed, UKIP is europhobe but has almost nothing to do with the FN. The FN has only 25% of less than 50% of participants; we can thus relativise the attraction of the party of Marine Le Pen. But France is nevertheless the main provider of MEPs of the extreme right, nothing can hide it!
We must therefore consider how we got there. I accuse most of the traditional media and of the French political parties to have contributed to this result. I go even further: some had hoped it. As regards the media, France Télévision gave considerable attention to the FN and refused to receive Martin Schulz: although we were in a European election, France Télévision preferred a national campaign. This is all the more shameful that France Télévision is funded with money from the taxpayers! The press is not necessarily much better: when I read in Le Monde of 26 May Françoise Fressoz describing the UMP and the PS as free-trade and pro-European parties, I wonder on what basis she can claim that. Both parties are divided on European issues and the results of the European elections will surely generate internal troubles over the coming months. Besides the French parties are all economically “statist”; liberalism is virtually non-existent in France, which also explains why it is very difficult to reform the country face multiple corporate interests. Yet the example of Matteo Renzi in Italy shows that with dynamism and commitment, we can convince voters that change is possible. But in France, the Socialist majority is torn by internal strife and paralysed by the mediocrity of François Hollande.
Let us turn to French political parties. Both the UMP and the PS are responsible for the current situation: the PS, because of its inability to define a political line and seriously address the daily problems of French citizens; the UMP for its leaders’ divisions and the many affairs that affect them. I also suspect that some, both in PS and the UMP, are happy with the current situation: those of the PS because the republican opposition is beaten too; those of the UMP because they are part of those who stupidly wish an alliance with the FN. And the PS shall not claim that Europeans condemned the austerity: in Ireland, Cyprus and Spain, the EPP is far ahead of the socialists; in Portugal and Greece, it is just behind the opposition. The Italian case is unique for several reasons. And the Germans, who contribute most to the solidarity towards other Europeans, although sometimes grudgingly, have also put the EPP in the lead. This proves that the EPP is the most capable of gathering Europeans around a vision of the economy and Europe.
The French crisis is not just economic; it is also political and moral. This is what differentiates France from most of its neighbours. This is what should bring our politicians and citizens to urgently rethink how to improve the functioning of our sick democracy.