Thursday, July 5, 2012

Past, Prologue, Etc.

Caption: The Palais Bourbon in Paris, France. It performs a function similar to that of the U.S. Capitol - a place to house progressive politicians until they decide they want to do something useful with their lives.

Image credit: Elliot Brown/Flickr

France also had an election over the weekend[.]

...

Call me a pessimist, but I'm getting that "Democrats in 2008" feeling all over again.

Yes, the Socialists have more power than they have for a long time. Yet, I suspect we won't see much change here, either. After all, Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande's predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn was head of the IMF [International Monetary Fund], one of the organizations trying to austere Greece to death. It's hard to imagine that the Socialists in their current incarnation are going to turn around and tell the banks to go to hell.

But we'll see. I'd love to be proved wrong there, and given how little I understand French politics, it's certainly possible that I will be.

Another Month, Another Greek Election

It turns out, sometimes all you need to understand French politics is to be able to remember how American politics have gone recently, as the U.K. Guardian reports:

Fran├žois Hollande, Europe's chief critic of one-size-fits-all austerity measures, is facing the headache of inescapable belt-tightening at home after a national audit confirmed that France has a gaping hole in its budget and will struggle to meet its deficit-reduction targets.

...

The new Socialist president and his government must now begin a delicate verbal juggling act to define belt-tightening measures in a country where the word "austerity" is taboo. Hollande, who declared in his presidential victory speech that "austerity can no longer be inevitable," reiterated recently in Rome that he was against austerity.

Fran├žois Hollande struggles to rebrand austerity as French budget looms

So, just like in 2008 America, the voters gave the party that should have had their interests at heart the biggest majority in decades, and they have turned out to be uninterested in doing what they were sent to the capital city to do. Now they're trying to figure out how to word things "artfully" to fool at least a few of their supporters into thinking they haven't actually done what they've done.

Who would have believed it? Or, as they say in those parts, Quelle Surprise!

If there is any comfort to be taken here, it's in the knowledge that at least America is not the only Western country where progressive politicians can look on being useless as a step upward.

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