The French presidential election is next spring, and the Socialist party had a great idea for their primary: open the voting to all French citizens, Socialist and otherwise.
It worked. Participation was far better than expected, and the party got great press coverage. There was, however, a surprise.
A young provincial lawyer, Arnaud Montebourg, came from total obscurity to third place in the primary, with 17% of votes cast. In the process he beat two well-known party stalwarts.
His platform (?) opposition to globalization, with a raft of measures to bring the French economy and finances back under national control.
Mr. Montebourg, being third, will not be the Socialist presidential candidate. But his vote count and platform are already affecting the election debate.
There is more, however: on the right, Ms. Martine Le Pen, new leader of the National Front party, is in sync with Montebourg. Since taking over she has ditched the party’s old anti-immigrant platform for one similar to Montebourg’s, opposing globalization. That earns her, in the polls, 19% of the national vote.
This unexpected agreement between France’s Right and Left fits into a larger trend.
Worldwide, globalization’s impact has been two-fold.
First, the incomes of the vast majority are under an unrelenting downward pressure while wealth accumulates at the top of the income pyramid. Second, the uncontrolled flow of capital through the financial system is creating huge imbalances. The result of both is a state of nearly uninterrupted economic crisis. Attempts by governments to salvage the status quo have delayed a complete collapse, but a steady economic deterioration continues, with no end in sight.
Populations are gradually becoming aware that something is fundamentally wrong with the global economic order. As a result, the old opposition between Right and Left is morphing into a vertical conflict between the global elites and the masses.
The Middle East is already in turmoil. Next year key elections are scheduled in the Unites States, Russia and France, and China has its 10-year change of leadership.
The official scenario is that economic problems can be contained until the new governments are in place.
Against that there is the rising probability of a collision between the growing force of raw popular discontent and the inertia and incompetence of the ruling circles. New policies are urgently needed, and our conviction is that America will, in this matter, lead the way.