Sunday, June 12, 2005

If you didn't like French policies before, you're going to like them even less now

In general, there's a Catch-22 here. Europe's political leaders are responding to the referendum debacle with the same lack of accountability for which they've just been censured
writes Christopher Caldwell in The Weekly Standard (Thanks to Gregory).

Check out the cartoons on the Non vote…

Meanwhile, Philip Gordon has this in the New Republic (lire la traduction française de Nadja Berrebi):

American glee at the sight of Chirac with mud on his face is understandable; he was, after all, the leading opponent of the Iraq war and has long championed a Europe capable of serving as a counterweight to U.S. power. But Americans should hold their applause, which they may soon come to regret. That's because the eclectic group of angry French leftists, populists, nationalists, and nostalgics who opposed Chirac and the constitution had very different—in fact, precisely opposite—reasons for doing so than the Americans who cheered them on. In other words, if you didn't like French policies before Sunday, you're going to like them even less now.

It should be noted from the start that the major reason for recent American anger at Chirac—his opposition to the Iraq war—had absolutely nothing to do with his defeat. (If anything that remains one of his few redeeming qualities in the eyes of many French.) Indeed, the quick choice of former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin—who led France's anti-Iraq-war campaign at the United Nations—to head the new government should quickly dispel any U.S. hopes that this aspect of French foreign policy will now change.…

Far from a statement about Chirac's foreign policies, the main message delivered by voters on Sunday was about the economy. And it was certainly not, as many Americans would have liked, that the French are fed up with excessive regulation, protectionism, and high taxes. Rather, the French no camp seemed to be saying it wanted more protection and regulation, not less. True, Chirac tried to defend the constitution by claiming that it would protect the French from "ultra-liberal Anglo-Saxon" economics. But voters did not believe him, and they wanted an EU constitution that made their preferences explicit. Does anybody really think that free-market reform and the defense of globalization will now become priorities of the French government?

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