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France’s Turmoil Makes Brexit Seem Tame

Author: Sebastian Mallaby, Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics
April 18, 2017
Washington Post

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Contradicting expectations and her own explicit promises, British Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap election. May is committed to the most misguided policy of any British government in memory — the foolish experiment in deglobalization known as Brexit. Yet such is the splintering of British politics, and the implosion of the opposition Labour Party under the non-leadership of a far-left nonentity, that May will probably win in a landslide. For Britain’s immediate prospects, this may be a good thing: If the country is going to leave the European Union, it might as well have a prime minister who can negotiate from strength. But as a barometer of politics in Europe, the triumph of a deglobalizer is depressing. Meanwhile, across a narrow sea channel, another political drama makes the British one seem tame.

That other drama is in France. In the first round of its presidential election, to be held on Sunday, some three-quarters of the French electorate are expected to back candidates who stand variously for corruption, a 100 percent top tax rate, Islamophobia, Russophilia, Holocaust denial, the undermining of NATO and the traumatic breakup of Europe’s political and monetary union. France was once the cradle of the Western Enlightenment. Now it threatens to become a spectacle of decadent collapse.

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