(and can it make itself –belle – again?)

The forces driving the furor and turmoil of the upcoming French presidential election cycle are much the same as those that brought about –BREXIT- in the United Kingdom, and       – AMERICA FIRST – here in the States…but only more so because, in France, lackluster economic conditions have been worse, and further exacerbated, by a flood of migrants and refugees from both its former colonial holdings and the Middle East, most of whom are Moslem. Moreover because of the many Islamist terrorist incidents which have occurred in different parts of the country, all of that has created an extreme sense of being “under siege” within its electorate.

It’s not surprising therefore that under such conditions demagogue voices such as Trump in the US and LePen in France should have such a strong appeal to so many. Whether the French will reject that demagogue appeal or not remains to be seen, and will be critical not only for its own future but that of Europe as a whole as well.

Francophile sentiment aside (from personal and family ties to it) the reality is that regardless of what views one might have about it France is the keystone upholding the arches of both the EU and NATO together. Without an economically strong and politically stable France the current edifice of Western Europe could fall apart…an outcome which would benefit no one…even the Russians (who seem to be meddling in its election process just as it did in the American one).

For the individual French voter however much of that is largely irrelevant. What it really boils down to this time around is which candidate offers the best agenda for a solid “depannage economique” (economic repair) more than anything else, and despite any distracting clashes between those who would hold fast to retrograde xenophobia versus those who would prefer to charge forward into a future, whose outlines might yet be shrouded by foggy uncertainties…all of that…secondary to this primary concern. The only wild cardexception to this being a generational gap of perspectives about what such a future should be.

 If the younger generation of French voters is so disgusted with the status quo that it turns out in larger numbers than its elders to vote just to say – merde alors – and go for an extreme outcome instead of applying the fundamental common sense which is so much part of its Gallic character and heritage…the outcome might not be to anyone’s liking. We can but hope that it will prevail to answer the question of…quo vadis France…and can it make itself “belle” again…with a firm and resounding….OUI!