Fools rush in

Many glum faces?

No1 glum!No1 glum!
As they say 'fools rush in' but following the 'success' of Fran├žois Hollande there's a great deal to ponder. Yes it's true there's no real winner yet so to award him the French Presidency now would be wrong but there's no harm in seeing what we have got so far and taking it further. All countries, not least France, have their political traditions and the serving President seeking re-election is, if they are to win, generally doing better than Nicolas Sarkozy is now. There is also the performance of Marine Le Pen. Pretending that her political platform only appeals to a few nutters is not going to work any more. So it's interesting to see the Guardian facing up to this -

A key victory of the night was for the Front National's Le Pen, who came third with around 18% of the vote, beating her father Jean-Marie's record success in 2002, and placing herself firmly at the heart of right-wing politics in France. She said "the battle of France has just begun" and "nothing will be the same again". The lawyer and twice-divorced mother of three had presented herself as the modern face of her party, trying to strip it of unsavoury overtones after her father's convictions for saying the Nazi occupation of France was not "particularly inhumane". She had initially stressed economic issues, calling for France to leave the euro, but in recent days returned to her hard-right stance on curbing immigration. At her final rally in Paris, supporters had shouted: "This is our home, our country!"

The Guardian is also correct to say -

Sarkozy's chances now hang on bringing over voters from Le Pen. However, not all her voters will automatically turn out for Sarkozy in the second round; there is a strong anti-establishment feeling among many

It's the anti-establishment remark that's key here. If there's one thing you can say of Sarkozy it's that he is front to back, side to side and top to bottom thoroughly establishment. So the idea that he picks up these votes is a long shot. It will be the same for Hollande. But for Sarkozy the process of pretending to the Front National he is 'with them' on certain issues has already begun.

Many of the Front National voters would say they have already 'done their bit' for France and few will move over to another candidate. So who will be feeling rather glum about all these things going on in France? Well top of the list is Angela Merkel from Germany. She is to many on the liberal/left a bit like Barack Obama, they think she can do no wrong. If you are of this view then you will have missed that she has done little right in the EU financial crisis.

She seems obsessed with the role of leading the EU/euro to the sunny uplands. But then so was her sidekick Sarkozy. Both have shown appalling judgement. In the case of Merkel she unwisely campaigned on behalf of Sarkozy. We may assume that many French voters, regardless of their political leanings, felt appalled at this cross border intervention.

Poor judgement can be seen that, as Merkozy, they both led the political elite of the EU on the ruinous path that has caused so much damage to their ill-founded single currency. You may argue that the real flaws of the euro go back to the work of the more left-leaning political leaders of 10 or more years ago. That's just a fig-leaf and not an excuse let alone a reason. For both have had ample time to watch the problems grow and act accordingly.

But all they have done is look away rather than face up to the crisis. All they have done is bought time, and borrowed, printed or fiddled the money to do so.

Naturally the markets, another thing Merkozy loathe because they don't understand them, have their own views namely yet another round of socialist spending. However, it would be funny if the socialists could sort the problem out. Then again it's not just France that will worry investors. The normally reliable Dutch seem to be forced to wait till late this year before they can pass through their parliament the legislation to deal with the financial crisis.

We are all familiar with the PIIGS, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. They all have their own problems and take it in turns to come back to haunt us. So it came as a shock when the markets took fright at what they saw in Holland. The government there is having its own version of the problems faced by Greece. We can assume that this will drag on for a long time, neighbour Belgium managed without a 'government' for 541 days recently and seemed to come to no harm.