It’s the economy stupid – this is why Le Pen won

I have argued it again and again – the continued crisis in the European economy is the primary source of political radicalisation, populism, extremism and outright fascism.

The French regional elections provided yet another sad testimony to that thesis. Here is the one-graph version of that idea.

Le Pen

The graph shows the support for the extremist/populist anti-immigration party Front National (FN) against the unemployment rate across different regions in France. Each dot represents a region.

The simple regression ‘model’ shows that a 1%-point increase in unemployment increases support for FN by nearly 5%-point.

So it might be that FN is helped by the recent terror attacks in Paris and by the ‘refugee crisis’, but this is mostly about a weak French economy.

So if you want to blame anybody for the electoral success of Front National you should point the fingers at Jean Claude Trichet who as ECB-chief in 2011 hiked interest rates twice and at president Holland who has done everything to worsen the already bad competitive position of the French economy since he became president in 2012.

HT: This post have been inspired by a post on the same topic on Bloombergviews by .


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  1. There are a lot of people to blame for France’s problems. But I blame Mitterand because he surrendered monetary sovereignty to the Bundesbank. The Single Mandate, as interpreted by the BuBa, is killing France.

  2. Trichet? A minor figure in all this. Those who manufactured the flawed construction of the Euro are perhaps the chief villains. It is one of the FN’s major grumps. French politicians of recent decades can’t escape the blame either. Labour market policies seem almost as if designed to generate high rates of unemployment. In the public sector, wherever you look, there are huge deficits going back for 30 or 40 years and are still growing strong.

  3. brendan

     /  December 10, 2015

    Lars, fascism, if that’s the word you wanna use, is tribalism, and I’m pretty sure that pre-dated central banks by a couple years.

    Threats, financial or otherwise, do amp up tribal solidarity.

    And it is stupid that a monetary recession makes people wanna close borders.

    But tribalism is a bit more sensible when it’s provoked by, you know, another damn tribe behaving like crap.

    Extensionally now: Rotherham, Paris, fertility differences, pop growth rates, rape, murder, entire neighborhoods annexed by hostile foreigners, Merkel’s floodgates, Islamic Revivalism, ISIS recruiting more Euro muslims than their own militaries, and some back of the envelope long run demographic calculations.

    And your response so this sort of thing so far: “fascists haven’t read ricardo”.

    (I bet your chart is explained simply: Le Pen’s always done better in populist regions; and populist = less educated, and those sectors have been hit worse by the recession. Not that you’re interested in truth on this issue.)

  4. G. Cristiano

     /  December 27, 2015

    talking about the crisis in European economy, Lars, I wonder what you think about the banking crisis going on in Italy, and Lars Feld’s advice that Italy might need “help” from the ESM. Do you think the situation might escalate?

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