Why Segolene Royal Lost—and How the Left can Win In France
May 06, 2007, 11:21 PM
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Ms. Royal lost an election today that could have been won. Sarkozy wasn`t an incredibly strong candidate. Many of those voting for him didn`t really trust him. The key to Sarkozy`s success has been the ability to get a portion of the electorate that voted for Le Pen in prior elections. Those people typically aren`t rich. Those folks are often struggling—and minor differences in economic policy make a big difference to them. Royal talks about having a fairer economy, but quite simply a lot of folks doubted her ability to deliver that while maintaining open borders.

Neither Royal or Sarkozy were really going to seriously clamp down on immigration to France. The real difference in their immigration policy is how much control they are likely to exert on recent immigrants. Royal seems to think you can have substantial levels of immigration with a rapid path to citizenship and maintain the social services important to the French. Sarkozy is willing to tolerate substantial numbers of guest workers—if they "know their place" in French society.

Basically the French opted for a corporate oppressor who was willing to loosen the thumbscrews on French workers just a little in the area of immigration policy.

What French politics desperately needs is a political figure that steadfastly and realistically stands for French workers and their interests. The real entry level opportunities for French workers have stagnated. Quite simply: the French aren`t having children because it is so difficult for young French people to provide the kind of environment for children they themselves grew up with.

The Le Pen voters understand this quite painfully.

What needs to be made clear is that France can have a sane immigration policy without cracking the heads of recent immigrants or giving huge unearned gifts to France`s most wealthy citizens. It must be made clear that France can move towards a more fair and sustainable economy and seriously restricting immigration may be part of that package.