The French voter has spoken and the choice for the second round is clear – the candidate of an open, tolerant and liberal society vs. the candidate of a closed, fearful and illiberal system. This is a critical choice, not just for France but for Europe. Brexit might have been an accident, a Le Pen presidency would be a heads-on collision, the start of a very slippery road away from European integration and ultimately peace.
There are those who favour giving the populists the chance to prove how disastrous their policies are. History should warn us: in 1933, German conservative politicians thought they could contain Adolf Hitler by allowing him to become chancellor and yielding two more ministerial positions to his party; the rest of the cabinet was filled with technocrats and conservative politicians. We all know how this ended! No inch can be yielded to fascists, no matter how nicely they dress and how nicely they might talk!
But there is more than just fear in the second round! There is the hope that a new French administration will use the chance to rejuvenate social and economic policies, will overcome its bias in favour of the haves and include the have-nots, be they unemployed youth or entrepreneurs, low-skilled high-school drop-outs or high-skilled university graduates without job perspective. This can also finally give impetus for the reforms that the Eurozone needs to avoid a second lost decade. I discuss one of the necessary solutions here and in a few weeks, there will be another Vox eBook on solutions for the Eurozone. However, there is the broader issue of the identity crisis of Europe and what solutions (economically, institutionally and politically) are needed to rejuvenate Europe, as discussed in this eBook by economists and political scientists.
There is still hope in Europe! Let’s hope this chance will not be squandered!
24. Apr, 2017