A vote for Marine Le Pen is a vote to end rule of self-serving elites

A vote for Marine Le Pen is a vote to end rule of self-serving elites, by Adam Creighton.

If I were French I would vote for Marine Le Pen in next week’s presidential election. Not to do so would be to endorse the political and economic elites that have sapped the life out of ­industry, put the Fifth Republic on track for bankruptcy, forced taxpayers to bail out parasitic banks, and left the country exposed to Islamist terrorism.

More of the same? No thanks. France’s global rank on Cato ­Institute’s annual Human Freedom Index, for instance, has dropped from 20th to 31st since 2008 (Australia is sixth).

Le Pen’s popularity has surged since the global financial crisis. … Details of the National Front’s policies — a populist cocktail of protectionism and nationalism — matter far less than the damage her victory would do to France’s cosy status quo, which has hooked France’s fortunes to an increasingly stagnant and unpopular ­EU. Indeed, it would be a victory far more consequential than Donald Trump’s Novem­ber win in the US, where congressional gridlock and a recent bout of bomb-dropping on the Middle East sadly point to a continuation of the past.

Le Pen’s promise to give the French a say on staying in the ­EU is reasonable, given that the last time they were asked their view, in 2005, their answer (no) was largely ignored. Her suggestion France should withdraw from the euro and redenominate its debts in French francs would cause a ­financial crisis that would make 2008 seem mild, but it would be the price to pay for longer-term prosperity.

The French government has debts equal to more than €2 trillion ($2.8 trillion), 120 per cent of its national income — more than three times Australia’s share. The collapse in value of those debts from “Frexit” would wipe out many highly leveraged banks, prompting the rethink of how banking is structured that the world ­deserved, but never got, after the financial crisis.

France’s 62-year project of tying Germany down in the EU has left France with too high an exchange rate (while Germany’s is too low), permanently throttling its competitiveness.

France’s bloated governments spend almost 60 per cent of the national income every year (Australia’s spend about 33 per cent), and tax a little bit less of it, a recipe for eventual bankruptcy. The jobless rate has risen steadily to more than 10 per cent since the financial crisis …

Australia has been a beneficiary, actually — Sydney’s eastern suburbs, for instance, are teeming with young French people. The number of French-born residents in Australia has grown more than 6 per cent a year since 2006, to more than 42,000, many multiples faster than immigration from Greece, Spain or Germany.

It’s depressing to see France, the first modern state, one of the great scientific and cultural fountainheads of Western civilisation, which under Charles de Gaulle wrenched itself back to pre-eminence after a couple of near-death experiences, in such a funk. …

The brilliant conservative and Spectator columnist Charles Moore conceded in December he was “cheering” for the populist right. “It may sound Marxist to say this, but I do think the elites have constructed a world order which serves their interests, not those of their subject populations,” he wrote, pointing to the “banking crisis resolved in the interests of bankers”. More and more commentators of right and left — an increasingly meaningless distinction, anyway — are concluding the same. …

Even if Le Pen loses, it is only a matter of time until she wins. Polls show her strongest support comes from people under 40.

hat-tip Stephen Neil