European Union’s Democracy Dilemma

Exclusive: The European elites want the European Union as a means for controlling the Continent’s economies, but that often requires overriding the popular will of nation states, a dilemma for “democracy,” explains Andrew Spannaus.

By Andrew Spannaus

A sigh of relief was heard across Europe on Sunday night, as far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was beaten soundly in the French presidential runoff election, losing to centrist Emmanuel Macron 66 percent to 34 percent.

Marine Le Pen, French presidential candidate from the rightist Front National.

Le Pen had come in a close second to Macron in the first round of voting two weeks earlier, less than three points back (24 percent to 21.3 percent) in a crowded field that also included conservative Francois Fillon (20 percent) and leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon (19.6 percent) among the top vote-getters.

Le Pen capitalized on the anti-establishment fervor sweeping the Western world to challenge for the top spot with a strong critique of financial globalization and the European Union (E.U.), mixed in with her party’s historical message of nationalism with racist overtones. Together with Mélenchon, the first round saw over 40 percent of the votes go to these “extreme” candidates, indicating the presence of widespread dissatisfaction with the political élites and their current economic and social policies.

The fear among European political institutions was that Le Pen’s anti-E.U. message would either carry her to the presidency or at least call into question France’s adherence to the institutions that have transferred large chunks of sovereignty from the single nations of Europe to a supranational bureaucracy.

Macron, on the other hand, defended the E.U. despite recognizing widespread disaffection regarding European institutions. He stressed the need to restore confidence in the Union, while adopting a peculiar argument about how Europe is actually the best instrument to defend the sovereignty of its member states.

His decisive victory in the runoff election, although somewhat tainted by record levels of abstention and blank or spoiled ballots, is causing optimism among pro-E.U. politicians, who are now able to counter the populist narrative with the democratic election of a pro-European president of France.

This argument merits considerable skepticism, as the assumption of majority support for the supranational E.U. institutions based on the election of a national leader is quite a leap. Indeed the issue of the democratic legitimacy of the E.U. itself is a thorny one, due to electoral failures and questionable tactics used to ensure the construction of unpopular international bodies that impose profound changes in economic and social policies among the Union’s member states.

Why the E.U.

The origins of the E.U. go back to the 1950s. First there was the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, an agreement for regulation of industrial production among six countries: France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Then came the Rome Treaties of 1957, which gave birth to the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

Flag of the European Union.

The stated goal, encouraged by the United States in the context of the Cold War, was to “lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe,” principally through economic cooperation based on the European “common market.” Over the subsequent decades the communities expanded to include 12 countries, an alliance of independent nation-states seeking increasing cooperation at the European level.

A phase shift began in the 1990s. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 transformed the communities into the European Union, and defined a path that would lead to the single currency, the Euro. Other countries were also invited to join, gradually bringing the total up to 28 Member States by 2013, although only 19 of them would participate in the monetary union. The new model of cooperation was that defined in 1992, with the goal of moving towards a single super-state based not only on economic union, but political union as well.

This goal immediately ran into a major obstacle: the popular will. Only three countries held referendums on the Maastricht Treaty: Ireland, France and Denmark. The first two were successful, but the population of Denmark voted against it. This would have been the death knell for the Treaty, so a decision was made to hold a second referendum, in which Maastricht was subsequently approved. The other participating countries merely had their Parliaments vote up the Treaty, so as to avoid the risk of a popular rejection.

The next big step in economic policy was called the Stability and Growth Pact, implementing stricter budget rules based on specific deficit/GDP and debt/GDP parameters. For years the Pact was the key instrument for imposing continuous austerity on the Member States. Here there was no attempt at obtaining approval even of the Parliaments, as the Stability and Growth Pact was enacted simply as an E.U. Regulation in 1997.

Risking Legitimacy

As economic and monetary policy became increasingly centralized and rigid, the risk of a lack of political legitimacy was evident. The response was to attempt the construction of a strong European government, by drawing up an E.U. Constitution.

France’s President-elect Emmanuel Macron

Given the direct effect on sovereignty, some countries held referenda on the text, starting with France and the Netherlands. In 2005, the French rejected the proposed constitution 55 percent to 45 percent, just a few days before the Dutch did the same, with an even higher margin of 62 percent to 38 percent.

The idea of creating a “United States of Europe” had been stopped in its tracks, rejected by the democratic vote of two important Member States. A normal response would have been to recognize that the peoples of Europe weren’t ready for full integration, but the institutions decided to go in a different direction.

Since a Constitution wouldn’t pass, they began drawing up a new treaty with essentially the same goal; the advantage was that a treaty could simply be passed by the Parliaments, avoiding putting it before the voters.

The result was the Lisbon Treaty, another step forward in consolidating the supranational power of the structures of the European Union. The path to ratification met only one serious obstacle, the requirement established by the Irish Supreme Court of holding a referendum on any treaties that go beyond the “essential scope or objectives” of existing E.U. documents. In 2008 the Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty, throwing a wrench into this plan as well. Never fear, the Irish government called a second referendum a year later, and through a number of carrots and sticks the population was induced to pass it the second time.

The Lisbon Treaty entered in force in 2009, and remains the framework for the new form of the European Union, strengthening institutions, which from the 1990s on have been able to dictate economic policy to the member governments, thus keeping everyone in line with the policy orientation of the transatlantic élites.

Finding a Way

The case of Ireland shows the preferred method of European institutions for consolidating E.U. authority. First a goal is set, and then the method is chosen to meet it. If the most influential European politicians agree, the consent of the governed becomes merely an annoying detail to get around however possible.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (center) with French President Francois Hollande (left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) during the crisis over Greece’s debt.

In subsequent years additional treaties were passed with practically no public debate at all. One of the most important is the European Fiscal Compact (2012), an even stricter version of the Stability and Growth Pact, which obliges Member States to balance their budgets and reduce their debt.

To get a flavor for the ideology, consider the provision of the “debt brake”: any country that fails to reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio to below 60 percent is required to cut the debt by 5 percent each year for 20 straight years; a level of austerity that in some countries would require massive cuts in essential services.

The preferred method for moving forward with European integration raises serious questions. If the only way to create a United States of Europe is to avoid consulting the people, why should the goal even be pursued? The response often heard is based on circular reasoning: Europe needs to be built in order to meet the needs of the people, then the people will understand why it’s so important.

In the elections held so far this year in European countries, the anti-E.U. candidates have increased their votes considerably, but have not made it into the halls of power. For most of the European political class this is a relief, as they feared an imitation effect after the anti-establishment Brexit vote in June 2016 and the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. last November.

It would be a mistake, however, to consider the rejection of far-right candidates an endorsement of greater integration of European nations through supranational institutions, that to date have proved not only unable to deal with the economic effects of globalization, but also impervious to the democratic opinions of European citizens.

Andrew Spannaus is a freelance journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of Transatlantico.info, that provides news, analysis and consulting to Italian institutions and businesses. His book on the U.S. elections Perchè vince Trump (Why Trump is Winning) was published in June 2016.

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48 comments for “European Union’s Democracy Dilemma

  1. SteveK9
    May 9, 2017 at 10:08 am

    There is still Italy, and the French parliamentary election should be interesting. Macron has no party. Front National could be the leading party, or the far left, who curiously are also anti-EU.

    • exiled off mainstreet
      May 9, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Anybody having an ounce of independent thinking is anti-EU under its present guise. It is the means of neoliberal and neocon dominance of Europe and is inimical to the living standards of the public. A method used to consolidate its power is fear that things will be temporarily worse, i.e, the currency will devalue, should the EU be eliminated. The propaganda apparatus backing this would be the envy of Joe Goebbels. In France, no commercial publication came out for Le Pen and many of them violated laws on not endorsing candidates in the hours immediately before the election. I agree that the double voting of those abroad and other possible frauds in the first round need to be investigated, since otherwise, another less controlled candidate might have been opposing Le Pen and therefore be elected. Some means need to be found to unite the left behind Melenchon and the historic right, which, if you examine their positions on issues other than immigration and citizenship, take positions well to the left of the “centre” represented by empty corrupt suits like Macron.

      • john wilson
        May 9, 2017 at 1:37 pm

        The problem is mainstreet, the average Jo public doesn’t have even an ounce independent thought that’s why Macron won.

        • Chet Roman
          May 9, 2017 at 6:56 pm

          Serge Halimi, Director of the monthly newspaper, Le Monde Diplomatique gave a very interesting interview on The Real News recently. He said that Paris, which is the most bourgeois of major French cities gave a landslide to Macron; he received 90 percent of the vote there. Also he stated that 56 percent of workers (working class) voted for Marine Le Pen.

          http://therealnews.com/t2/story:19045:French-President-Elect%3A-Unveiling-The-Golden-Boy-Emmanuel-Macron

          It reminds me of the Upton Sinclair quote: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

          I don’t think it is “Jacques Public” in France that is the problem; the majority of the working class voters voted against Macron. It’s much like the U.S., the media, corporations and the government used their power of influence to seat this “Trojan whore” (Macron is a puppet of the financial parasites, it’s laughable to call him a banker just because he sucked at the teat of the largest financial pig for 4 years). The EU is a bit behind the grass roots anger at austerity, wars and war against the working class here in the U.S. The U.S. “establishment” had the same full court press against Trump as they had against Le Pen in France but they failed because the decline of the middle and working class is more advanced here in the U.S. This latest vote is just the beginning.

      • Matt Krist Germany
        May 10, 2017 at 11:05 am

        Good comment mainstreet!We don’t like them Neoliberals and Neocons,either the “markets”.They all work only for their own pockets and of course for their doubtful Clubs and communities.No one educated here ,believes in Mainstream media any more or in our Polititians.The reason that corrupt suits like Macron or Merkel were elected is ,that the Educated People have no majority.And ,very important:many People do not want to know the western world the way it is.For their comfort,they like to believe the lies,the truth is too hard for so many!So These People prefer to live in their own “good” paralell world.Most of them are simple minds,but good People.But some time we will reach a Point,when it is imposible to look in the wrong direction.And then all them Neocons etc. will be send to their god. France will be the first Country for this scenery to come,and i think Germany, the succesful Indian Reservation, will be the last.

    • Bill Bodden
      May 9, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Macron has no party.

      But with the European bankers and bureaucracy supporting him he probably doesn’t need a party.

    • john wilson
      May 9, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      Yes SteveK9 and don’t forget Mrs Merkel soon as well. I expect she feels a bit safer now that the tide of the anti establishment seems to have been halted as it was Macron’s election.

  2. Lisa Brown
    May 9, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I think there was clear and evident rigging of the French election, and I wonder if it would be advantageous for Le Pen and her people, to contest the results and do an investigation. It is already know about the blank and damaged ballots, and that it was know during the first round of voting, that a “computer glitch” sent out 500,000 extra Macron ballots, allowing those in support of Macron, to vote twice.

    • john wilson
      May 9, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      Le Penn could always say it was the Russians who lost her the election. I seem to remember there was a lot of shrill talk about the Russians hacking French elections as well as the American elections. Interestingly, there is not even the tiniest squeak from the French establishment about the Russian hack rubbish now that their man has won.

  3. Drew Hunkins
    May 9, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Global economic elites don’t give a care about genuine democracy, they subvert it every single step of the way during their avaricious goal of more, more, more. The ruling class will often resort to using its vast propaganda apparatus of the state-corporate media nexus to brainwash and delude the people into voting against their best interests. Then they have the effrontery to deem any dissident intellectuals and activists writing and pontificating against this whole facade as disseminating “fake news.”

    • mike k
      May 9, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Yes. Yes exactly.

    • Bill Bodden
      May 9, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Global economic elites don’t give a care about genuine democracy, they subvert it every single step of the way during their avaricious goal of more, more, more.

      For example:

      “Somebody’s Going to Suffer: Greece’s New Austerity Measures” by Michael Hudson – http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/09/somebodys-going-to-suffer-greeces-new-austerity-measures/

    • May 9, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      Its the biased access to education. If there was equality of opportunity for education, all people would know what is going on. They would be less likely to be seduced by Daily Mail / Telegraph and instead adopt rational opinions and act on them.

  4. exiled off mainstreet
    May 9, 2017 at 10:46 am

    As this indicates, all the EU is is the consolidation of neoliberal power contrary to the public welfare and the desires of the population. It is being maintained by a propaganda power structure over the entire media and NGO superstructure. The question is whether the people can withstand this propaganda barrage and not be “turkeys voting for Christmas” as occurred in France this week.

    • mike k
      May 9, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Right on. Power doesn’t care for anything other than itself. Others are only to be used and exploited. Isn’t this obvious? How can people be so consistently brainwashed to act against their own interests? Perhaps because we are trained not to think for ourselves from an early age. Go along to get along……..NOT!

  5. mike k
    May 9, 2017 at 11:55 am

    How and why to swim against the current of our culture needs to be encouraged from childhood. Instead “obedience” and “getting ahead” are crammed down our throats – so we can be good little conformist robots for the Rulers.

  6. Bill Bodden
    May 9, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    A sigh of relief was heard across Europe on Sunday night, as far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was beaten soundly in the French presidential runoff election, losing to centrist Emmanuel Macron 66 percent to 34 percent.

    Apparently, the French decided Macron was the lesser evil; whereas, in Britain polls indicate the Brits favor the evil option over the more civilized Corbyn.

    • john wilson
      May 9, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Yes Bill, but its curious as to what the poor or almost poor think the Tories will do for them because I assume some of them must be supporting Mrs May as well as the rich. Further, I would have thought that those who were furious because they lost the Brexit vote would be voting against the Tories because it was the Tories under “call me Dave” who actually instigated the referendum simply to placate their own rebellious MPs. in the first place. The British press and media are ripping poor old Corbyn to shreds as did the French media to Le Penn. Under this barrage of negativity it would be a miracle if either Corbyn or Le Penn did well.

  7. mike k
    May 9, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    The French vote like all “democratic’ votes is based on ignorance and propaganda. If a democratic public is ignorant and misinformed, then the result will reflect that. Garbage in, garbage out. There is no substitute for real knowledge and ethical development.

  8. mike k
    May 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    The idea that we will have good government if only we have a well functioning free voting process is not valid. A good government requires good, intelligent, informed, honest people who serve higher purposes and not only their own egos and surface desires.

  9. MaDarby
    May 9, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Running along with or behind the events described here was the German takeover of the EU – well really of Europe itself. From the beginning Germany worked to install its sycophants into the key EU positions. A plan that worked very will especially after Merkel came to power. After colonizing EU institutions with its sycophants Germany pushed the “Growth and Stability Act” through which effectively gave Germany substantial power over the other EU countries. Germany in parallel to this effort managed its economy through beggar-thy-neighbor economic policies to amass a huge (and illegal) trade surplus. This surplus plus the Stability Pact, the Lisbon Treaty and the European Fiscal Compact each played its part is part in directing European power to Germany.

    In short the EU/EZ has become a German sub-empire (realizing a German dream after the delays of WWI and WWII) under the US led global empire. The Euro is in reality just another name for the deutsche mark and a currency which can be kept low through the bludgeoning of France Spain Italy and the rest to ensure Germany amasses and maintains its vast surplus.

    La Pen was correct France is governed by a woman but not La Pen, the once great and honored French nation is powerless before Germany Macron is little more than wallpaper.

    • Kalen
      May 9, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      True. Euro is nothing but a weak Deutschmark about 35% weaker at least than Deutschmark would have been. It would have killed German exports and boosted export of central and Southern Europe allowing them to balance budgets and avoid murderous austerity. Germany has become of parasite of Europe but not by accident but by design. What we are witnessing is the true end to WWII, and Nazis won and in order to obfuscate that fact the hatred of Russia has been resurrected exactly as in 1937 in the west so Hitler was allowed to arm Germany to teeth with American investments.

      Regarding French elections. Last Sunday Marine Le Pen asked French people a fundamental question: what to do, since they never had really a chance to decide on their own.

      Either to support continuing pauperization of society and allowing for further collapse of French sovereignty and cultural autonomy which is one of the pillars of European culture and western tradition and hence retain status quo.

      Or reject it by demanding EU to return to its EEC roots and give up on a superstate projects like Euro or banking/political unity/ECB.

      And that question was the highest crime in Brussels and hence Le Pen was set for at least metaphorical assassination of her character and her populist appeal.

      She got her answer. A well known French answer of utter cowardice know well from time of infamous Vichy regime that submitted to German (Hitler) imperial rule as now too many fearful French people did.

      But last Sunday many more French people chose “RESISTANCE” instead of surrender like in WWII.

      The real issue in these elections though was how strong roots of sociopolitical/economic dependency on EU imperial clique are in France and we have a proof of how strong they are, fortified by fear and loathing.
      Millions of French know or feel there are hopelessly dependent of Brussels and voted simply status-quo out of cowardice regardless even of their own suffering, threatened with supposedly worse alternative under Le Pen.

      How strong such a calcifying paralysis is was shown in Roman empire collapsing over two centuries only because people supported status-quo in fear of change into unknown, even when the world around them was collapsing.

      But all those who supported Le Pen do not need another election but a “revolution” metaphorically or not breaking legs and heads since the autocratic EU system is designed to prevent popular upheavals and drastic changes to the EU imperial order of bureaucratic rule.

      EU has all the money, power, courts and propaganda machine to derail any democratic movement without another French revolution to defend it.

      • backwardsevolution
        May 9, 2017 at 8:34 pm

        MaDarby and Kalen – good posts!

    • Brad Owen
      May 10, 2017 at 4:47 am

      Not Germany so much as a new Holy Roman Empire (from which Germany came). Germany is also to be subsumed into the new Holy Roman Empire as Prussia, Bavaria, and the other Princely States…same with other European Nations. EU is the GRADUAL formation of a PanEuropa of several hundred feudal estates run by Counts, Dukes, Earls, Marquis, and such, all answering to an Emperor, a King Of Europe (Otto Von Hapsburg). These austerities and other asinine policies are meant to make the people see the futility of democracy and welcome the peaceful order of Synarchism (which the Synarchists will then relent with austerities and other asinine policies). Go to Executive Intelligence Review. Type in their search box “return of the Monarchs”, also “black nobility”(which will pop up something about the black prince and gladio). This will pop up some interesting reading and give an idea what is REALLY going on.

  10. Chris
    May 9, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I think Wolfgang Streeck pointed to the real, underlying problem in his 2011 essay, “The Crises of Democratic Capitalism.” Basically, that democracy and capitalism are incompatible with each other. Workers in a democracy will always demand more than a capitalist economy can provide. To bridge the gap, governments resort to printing money, sovereign debt or financial deregulation (to stimulate private debt instead of sovereign debt). But each of these approaches leads to its own problems; hence the recurring, ever-worsening crises.

    The EU elites have evidently realized this and decided that democracy is the problem. (“As economic and monetary policy became increasingly centralized and rigid, the risk of a lack of political legitimacy was evident.”) I’m not so sure they’re wrong. Streeck, predictably, disagrees, outlining his reasons in a collection of essays called, “Politics in the Age of Austerity.” His argument? That sovereign debt (the most obvious symptom of the incompatibility of democracy and capitalism) is rising, while voter turnout is falling. If democracy was the problem, he says, we’d expect to see positive causation between the two: more people voting for policies beyond the means of their economy causing ever-increasing sovereign debt.

    • john wilson
      May 9, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Correction Chris. Workers will always demand more money than the capitalists ARE WILLING TO GIVE not able to provide.

  11. susan sunflower
    May 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    “Too much democracy” strikes again … the elites apparently are not up to the task of educating the lumpen whose taxes finance their “best laid plans” … In the USA, one of the functions of unions was to educate their members prior to elections — union and otherwise — as well as providing voting recommendations and donations. Absent some “organizing principle” like labor, we are left at the mercy of “the media” whose profit-generating agenda is not necessarily in the public interest (even with the “equal time” laws, many voices and POV were never heard, but you didn’t get the all-Trump-all-the-time saturation coverage that, imho, made Trump a viable candidate, in fact “the one to beat” particular since he repeatedly he stole Clinton’s thunder repeated with just a tweet and Clinton spent millions on ads starring Donald Trump …

    When AIDS was a new thing, eventually a public education program sent a booklet to every household … I saw no similar effort with ACA/Obamacare … Many believe that “the average joe” is not capable of understanding these complex issues, but I suspect they’re just lazy and tired of being alternatively treated condescendingly and being lied to.

    Gotta move beyond the sound byte …. Watching foreign news broadcasts demonstrates a remarkable different… less grinning, longer segments, sober discussion with guests (who also are not trying to win some popularity contest) … Why do people watch RT? BBC? DW? Because they treat viewers like interested grownups.

    The problems of partisans “buying” votes with false promises isn’t some new thing … even if the Brexit opponents and Democrats want you to believe that people have suddenly become stupider and more gullible (and/or more selfish)

  12. Skip Scott
    May 9, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    The whole globalization scheme is to subvert democracy, and return us to age of Lords and serfs. There is a class war going on in the US and Europe, and the elites are winning it by hook and by crook. The DNC sabotaged Bernie, and then the Deep State took Trump to the woodshed and made him a globalizer too. Haven’t heard much about his big infrastructure plans, and his buy American plans since the election. Just more tinkle-down economics and regime change wars. Melenchon would have been best for the French people, in my opinion, but I was hoping for LePen after the first round. We are heading for a one world government ruled by elites, with the rest fighting for crumbs.

    • backwardsevolution
      May 9, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      Skip Scott – exactly right, this is a class war, yet very, very few see it. Neofeudalism heading our way. Many I know vote in their best interest, never realizing that they will be next. They stupidly think they’ll be spared. I tell them, “Yeah, for now, but your turn will come. They will begin to squeeze you soon enough.”

      “One world government ruled by elites, with the rest fighting for crumbs.” Dead ahead.

      • Matt Krist Germany
        May 10, 2017 at 11:31 am

        backwardsevolution ,i think you are absolutely right.Few words,and all is said!A class war and nothing else! since more than 300 Years.Nearly all conflicts durig this time find their Explanation in this class war,and: it was never a political conflict but always a financial.And we are the Prey!

  13. elmerfudzie
    May 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    The Le Pen defeat spells a potential disaster for France. Macron, is an all too young mix of political and societal inexperience. He is a visible puppet of the Goldman Sachs clique. Voters have yet to realize that through this young up start, the banksters now have ready access to nuclear weapons and the absolute power they bring. A president of France does not need to consult the government or military because under French law he holds unequivocal power over these weapons and the military. Here in the USA there are some protections against presidential PAL’s and abuse of power through layers of both constitutional and high echelon military approval, but not so in France. Well, all I can say is, a country gets exactly what it deserves! Here in the U.S., we have a “Trump” because the two party system absolutely refused to allow the emergence of a legit third party. France on the other hand, was a Christian nation at one time but it’s church pews are for the most sparsely occupied, these days and then only by little old ladies, so the Lord may have sent you a reminder of His displeasure, now you’ve got Cain in the hot seat- good luck France, we’re pray’en for Ya… Viva La France!

    • Evangelista
      May 9, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      LePen was not defeated in the French election. ‘Democracy’ is not a political system. Democracy’ is popular movement. The movement rises, falls, surges, ebbs, heats, cools, builds pressure, weakens resistance, cracks existing structures, then breaks them and erupts through the breaches. The French Revolution was a democratic surge. The Trump Election, and the Obama Election before it, were democratic surges; both small surges, not enough pressure, heat or structural weakening –yet; but what the United States needed, and needs, since for the U.S. to ‘break out’ from the ‘straight-jacketing’ the manipulating Elite-State has imposed, both sides of the politically divided and twinned political spectrum need to meld together, to become one force (they can argue over spoils after).

      In France LePen, and her party, have enjoyed a substantial build-up; substanital in breadth and depth, across France, and solid. Macron has no such base. Macron was stuffed in, ahead of LePen to cut her off, to dike and dam her flow and movement. There is no sign that the movement LePen represents will fall back. There is nowhere for the movement to ebb to, so it will not ebb. Macron, being stuffed in as a dam, not a diversion, has no where to divert the forces that carried LePen up from a fringe margin to a surge that, this time, almost overwhelmed.

      Had LePen ‘won’ the Monday French run-off election she would have been where Trump is now in the U.S.: She would have been scrambling to claw together some kind of an agenda that might satisfy first this minority, then that, to try to achieve a majority of minorities, which never works. It looks like the political powers in France manipulated mightily, rallying desperately media and public opinion, and probably polling and voting, to wrest a victory from a frightening specter of defeat, for a candidate who is a piece of wood, not a Pied Piper, or a Rock of Gibraltar, who will provide neither leadership, or mooring. To defeat LePen they needed to have done the opposite, to have hemmed and hawed, bit their fingers and wrung their hands and let LePen ‘win’, to let the rushes and runs of electorate opinions and expectations buffet, flounder, capsize and overwhelm her in her untried and not yet storm-worthy state- craft.

      With her ship floundering, her opposition might have then sailed back in on the ebbing waves of the nation’s defeated and subdued electoral waters. They might have re-imposed themselves then. Instead, they have gone the extra miles to claim a term which will defeat them. With their hull stove, their rudder lost, their compass tumbled, their spars broken and their sails still in shreds fro the storms of their last term. And the public waters still raging. Being damned if they would let go and turn over the helm, even though it was loose in their hands in crossing seas. It is the most common error among poop-deck palaced public officials sailing democratic seas. Determined to order the seas, to make the democratically rising waters calm in obedience to their officious commands, they sink themselves.

      Next election, with the banker-parties sunk, pulled down by their economic over-ballasting, LePen’s party will have have more docile waters and freedom of the seas, which small boats of differing flags may not find assuring, since built up and hardened democracy tends to be as harsh in its conquering. Remember, Democracy is not a form of government, it is a dominating public opinion: Lynch-mobs are highly cohesive democracies. They may cohere in errors, and do unwonted damages in their coherent mobbing, and then regret, sometimes, afterward, when there is time to reflect and be sorry and that sort of thing.

      • Skip Scott
        May 10, 2017 at 8:01 am

        Evangelista-

        “Had LePen ‘won’ the Monday French run-off election she would have been where Trump is now in the U.S.: She would have been scrambling to claw together some kind of an agenda that might satisfy first this minority, then that, to try to achieve a majority of minorities, which never works.”

        Although I agree with most of your analysis, I think this part is off base. These “minorities” you speak of are more accurately global power brokers, the globalizing corporate warmongers. They have a common aim, which is to subvert the will of the people, and keep their profit margins ever increasing. National sovereignty threatens their power. For them International Corporate Control, culminating in a one world government ruled by corporations (Global Fascism) is ideal. It is where we are headed without some kind of pitch fork revolution.

        • Gregory Herr
          May 10, 2017 at 6:38 pm

          But Russia and China have trump cards.

        • Evangelista
          May 10, 2017 at 8:45 pm

          Yep, the Macron ‘pause’ button, like the Trump election “Might as well try something stupid, none of the “smart” solutions even slowed the train.”, only provide additional time to sharpen the pitchfork tines and stack up more torches for the inevitable days to come.

          The evidences are indicating that the next war(s) will be fought at home. The globalistic Elite will try to rally for international war, to expand their territorial controls, but the peoples of the countries will see their opponents local, the corrupt servitors of the global elite interests that have put them off. Off their lands, off their governments, off their pensions (their parents’ present, their own future), away from the rights and freedoms they need to build futures for themselves, everything they need to live within their borders and means. The Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria are the examples, if they fight, Iraq and Lybia if they don’t.

          In places like the U.S., look for the police and national guards, who the elite count on to fight for paychecks, (“We can hire half the population to control the other half and control the nation!”) will side against their (would be) masters, their own pensions having been robbed by the elites along with the ex-workers’.

          Today’s world is one of imbalances within states caused by manipulations from without, by a ‘class’ that local populations, from top to bottom, left to right, have no loyalty to, or affection for. The effect of opposite hopeless hopes, Obama hopeless for the hoping left, Trump hopeless for the hoping right, is to bring the sides together, to make common cause against the manipulators who menace both.

      • Typingperson
        May 10, 2017 at 8:45 pm

        Wow–very well-written and thought-provoking comment, Evangelista! You need a blog. At the very least.

  14. F. G. Sanford
    May 10, 2017 at 3:37 am

    “Sunny Italy”…that recurring motif so enticingly fielded by Shirer in his epic account of European political fecklessness…but Angie didn’t go this year. For the first time in a long time, she eschewed the ‘mare quant’e bello’ and didn’t get to sniff the ‘sciure arance’. And, the springtime is a glorious one this year, no doubt about it. The air is pregnant with ‘profumo accusi fino’. Meanwhile, in the European political coliseum, France was gathered to choose between two doors. The spectators awaited anxiously. Angie sat in her box surrounded by her Generals and Proconsuls, watching to see which door the condemned French polity would choose. The tale tells of the choice. Behind one door is a despised rival – the lady. Behind the other is a hungry tiger. The condemned must choose one door or the other. In hapless desperation, it turns a cautious eye toward the box, hoping for a subtle signal of salvation. A finger perceptibly but ever so furtively indicates the door on the left. Behind the door awaited the future of France. Would it be the lady…or the tiger?

  15. May 10, 2017 at 5:21 am

    My only problem with this excellent article is the reference to a United States of Europe. As far as I know from having spent the eighties and nineties in France, that idea was mooted by a small group around Valery Giscard d’Estaing, but went nowhere. The European Union was deliberately created without an over-arching political and economic structure similar to the one in the States, which would have avoided the Euro disaster.

  16. backwardsevolution
    May 10, 2017 at 5:21 am

    From Paul Craig Roberts:

    “…the French have been brainwashed into believing that to stand for France, as Marine Le Pen does, is to place patriotism and nationalism above diversity and is fascist.

    All of Europe, except for the majority of the British, has been brainwashed into the belief that it is Hitler-like or fascist to stand up for your country. For a French man or woman to escape the fascist designation, he or she must be Europeans, not French, German, Dutch, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese.

    Brainwashed as the French are that it is fascist to stand up for France, the French voted for the international bankers and for the EU.

    The French election was a disaster for Europeans, but it was a huge victory for the American neoconservatives who will now be able to push Russia to war without European opposition.”

  17. Luca Emanuele Todisco
    May 10, 2017 at 5:54 am

    ‘It would be a mistake, however, to consider the rejection of far-right candidates an endorsement of greater integration of European nations…’. I disagree, an EU closer integration was the main argument of Macron and anti-EU the main argument of Le Pen, so French vote was a pro-EU volte for sure. The fact that EU constitution hardly Can get an approval through referendum is typical of constitution: how was USA’ constitution approverà? The French’ One? What I see in the article and comments is a Reading of anything related to EU either with a pro-USA or pro-russia perspective: with brexit and Macron victory EU is moving towards a more autonomous role putting both traditional ‘superpowers’ in the Shadows. Nationalism was the plague of Europe and, despite all of the flaws of EU and the pain of economic crisis (Born in USA, not Europe, something that is often forgotten in anglo-american narratives) people of Europe is rejecting It.

  18. Paranam Kid
    May 10, 2017 at 7:54 am

    The EU undoubtedly needs reform if it is to survive; it is doubtful whether the politicians are willing or interested to take the necessary steps. Having said that, it is very easy to blame all the national problems on the EU, and to take credit only for positive things, which is what has been happening over the past 10 years or so, esp. since the 2008 crisis.

    A good example is the UK, where 2 court jesters, Farage & Johnson, were able to force Brexit through purely on the basis of lies about the EU, not only concerning its so-called supranationalist tendencies, but also the immigration issue, which is where the racists had their day. The (wo)man in the street was only too eager to lap up those false assertions, since only they had paid the price for the insatiable greed of the banksters & the corporate elite, the same people who are still calling the shots in the UK today.

    But when one considers the “debt brake”, which is largely inspired on Germany’s economic paradigm that resulted in its economic postwar miracle, the problem sits with countries that refuse to live within their means but which want to have the same prosperity as Germany. Thus the likes of Goldman Sachs were called upon by Greece and others to “doctor” the accounts so it would seem they were ready for the Euro. The EU, only too keen to make the new currency a great success, turned a blind eye to little niggly things that were pointers to much bigger risks.

    To date have yet to read an honest, open, well-balanced analysis of what the EU really lacks, what needs to be done, and how to achieve the objectives.

  19. May 10, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Excellent article. Just to add. About 70 years before the EU was born with the Schuman Plan. an Irish intelligence Officer had already written about European integration – how it would develop its character and future . He described this alliance of European nations “the vile confederation of the latter days”. He has been proved right. The EU is anti democratic. It s accounts have not been approved for 20 consecutive years. He warned both England and Ireland would become provinces of Europe. Secondly, the EU leaders have ignored the critical advice that would ensure its survival. This advice was given to them Robert Schuman and Konrad Adenauer. The EU is doomed. The British people took the right decision to leave Jean Monnet’s ill-fated European Titanic. You rightly stated. The EU’s goal is create a United States of Europe. Jean Monnet made this clear in his 1978 Memoir. And Walter Hallstein, the German economist, who was the first president of the European Commission, confirmed it with these words: “Make no mistake we are not in business. We in politics. We are creating the United States of Europe

    • E Wright
      May 13, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      “United States of Europe” doesn’t stand on its own as being evil – unless you are an ethnic nationalist.

      There are many things to commend a united Europe, so long as checks and balances are in place to ensure that the rights of minorities are entrenched. In fact it is ethnic nationalists who are most likely to tread on the rights of minority groups.

      As for workers rights – the EU has shown a greater propensity than either of its two main trading rivals – the USA and China – to protect workers. Take one small example of what will happen when the UK leaves the EU. The EU working time directive on drivers hours (for drivers of large vehicles) says that they must break after 4.5 hours of driving. Under domestic regulations they can drive for 6. Lots of similar examples.

  20. Mark Thomason
    May 10, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    The EU has not put in place policies that allow the Euro to navigate a major recession.

    The EU has not been able to control economies. The problem is they run out of control, in Greece, in Italy, even in Spain that did “nothing wrong” until the external recession hit it at home.

    The EU elite may want to control these things despite democracy, but so far they have failed to do so.

  21. R Davis
    May 11, 2017 at 3:06 am

    The EU Group & the ECB are on a successful looting spree of all that is European.
    Today it has been suggested that Greece surrender it’s gold reserves & offer up it’s real estate .. so as to regain financial validity in the EU.
    BREXIT is a deliberate ploy .. an example of how not to be foolish by attempting to leave the EU.
    Le Pen was never going to win this election .. never .. ever.
    Emmanuel Macaroon is a NEW INVENTION .. young & gorgeous, just oozing sex appeal .. what is not to like here ?
    The EU is run by geriatrics .. it is painfully obvious to everyone that the Europe is heading straight to poverty hell .. & the old & infirm, geriatric, EU Leadership has taken them there.
    The are calls for new blood .. younger people to take over from the old & failed mentality of today’s geriatric leadership of the EU.
    Emmanuel Macaroon is a knee jerk reaction to the discontent .. the answer to that outcry for new blood .. for a relinquishing of the old who yearn for a return to the past.
    Emmanuel Macaroon is the first step in the right direction ..
    Next, Jean-Claude Junkerbond need to replaced by a younger & more vibrant man .. one with his full facilitates.
    Compulsory retirement needs to be at 60 years of age .. the old live in the past & have taken the world to crisis point.

  22. May 12, 2017 at 2:11 am

    I guess the French just haven’t learned their lesson yet. Oh well.

  23. RickyQPublic
    May 12, 2017 at 11:36 am

    This article seems like it should have been written before the first round. The option the French people had this weekend was the racist rabble rouser or the status quo. Do you trudge along with EU-mandated austerity through global banks or do you go with Le Pen and likely see Le Pen-mandated austerity through French banks?

    Le Pen isn’t a socialist. She would release her 20% of true believers on the immigrant population and use the distraction of violence to consolidate her power and enrich the French elite. Her true believers are satisfied in their poverty because they get to take out their frustrations on the approved scapegoats. I am not seeing what the rest of the French population gets for exchanging their current master for another, more violent one. It may be time for the EU to break up, but even if the majority of the French see leaving the EU as their best option, they are likely better off to wait for a better person to make that break.

  24. E Wright
    May 13, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    A good analysis. I wonder though if any supranational state could come into being by popular democratic process. Any political science student knows that the peasantry can be bought – or persuaded by ridiculously emotional and illogical arguments. China suffered hundreds of years of wars before it settled down. Europe did too, but the “uniting” influences – first the great dynasties and then the dictators – always got themselves defeated. Only the United States of the Americas achieved its expansion ‘peacefully’ – but of course that nativity was really an aggressive colonization of indigenous land.

    If the individual states of Europe are left to compete on their own with an expanding China or USA (or even Russia) they would not have the bargaining power to withstand the already well advanced WTO new world order. There is, at the end of the day, safety in numbers.

    The reasonable fear of thinking people is that we would end up back in the hands of dynastic families if we allowed too much consolidation of power. This indeed is already happening. We can only hope that because of the mix of cultures in the EU, one group would not allow the other too much influence. A bit like the Holy Roman Empire in fact.

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