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It’s even worse than it appears

Little did I know that my comment about French exceptionalism would be completely eclipsed by the reality of yesterday’s presidential election. I heard my friend Dominique Moisi on the radio this morning remark that “having shown their irresponsibility at the polls yesterday, the French will now show their responsibility through demonstrations in the streets”.

I hope the loathsome Jean-Marie Le Pen’s second place shocks France into political responsibility. It should also be a tocsin outside France. The far right is gaining ground in many European countries, coincident with a seeming decline in democratic political involvement (Britain, except for some disturbing pockets of National Front support, remains a salutary island of non-racist politics). Let’s hope the primary lesson from the democratic disaster in France is that the values of pluralist, anti-racist democracy requires active support both in the ballot boxes and in the street.

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