"Le moment populiste", part 1. The right–left divide is obsolete
Boulevard Voltaire introduces its readers to a recent book that the editorial team appreciated. Every day, a new extract is published. Le Moment populiste. Droite-gauche, c’est fini!, by Alain de Benoist.
In September 2016, a poll revealed that the presidential election in May 2017 would be “disappointing” for 85% of French people whatever the result. It's a figure that says all. The extraordinary defiance of the ever growing layers of the population towards the “old governmental parties” and the political class in general, to the benefit of new types of movements, which we call “populist”, is without a doubt the most striking fact about the transformations of the political landscape for at least two decades.
This phenomenon, which first touched Southern and Western Europe (Syriza, Podemos, Front National, the Five Star Movement, the Northern League, The Freedom Party), before extending to central Europe, Germany (AfD), Northern Europe (Sweden Democrats Party), and the Anglo-Saxon countries (British “Brexit”), has henceforth even reached the United States (the Trump and Sanders phenomena). Everywhere the gulf separating the people from the installed political class has been confirmed. Everywhere new divides emerge that render the old right – left divide obsolete.
In France, under the Fifth Republic, political life had been long summarized by a regular alternation between two blocs each dominated by a major party. This system was guaranteed by a two round majority voting style which, by favoring a clear distinction between the majority and the opposition (the parliamentary majority becoming synonymous with the governmental majority), seemed to exclude a third contender's arrival in power. But this system no longer functions when a third party conquers more than 25% of the electorate in a lasting manner. Here we are. In the first round of the last departmental elections, the National Front, which was most successful with the youth, the popular classes, and the lower portion of the middle classes, obtained more than five million votes against the 3.3 million of the PS and the 3.2 million of the UMP. In the second round, in the 1,109 cantons where it ran, it scored 35% on average, even positioning itself between 45 and 50% in 99 cantons. In the first round of the regional elections on December 6th 2015, with 27.7% of the votes, it became the first party in France. So one could reckon that about one voter in three votes in favor of the FN today, which confirms that we have entered into a new form of electoral tripartition: the political system henceforth structures itself around three principal formations, each attracting between a quarter and third of the voters […]
The grand event of the American presidential election in this same year 2016 was the collapse of the old style Republican Party, forced to abandon its political philosophy that was attuned to the business world under the strikes of populist protest, and whose candidates most emblematic of its political philosophy, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker, all failed. Here, it's not Donald Trump's persona which should command attention, but the Trump phenomenon, which must immediately be likened to the Bernie Sanders phenomenon among the Democrats. Throughout his campaign, Trump (who is an anti-Reagan as much as an anti-Clinton) capitalized on what his competitors, just like the Republican strategists, had not been able to see: the rise of a powerful popular anti-elite protest, a rejection of the Establishment with which the American political class will henceforth have to reckon. Sanders won 22 states against 28 for Hillary Clinton for nearly the same reasons, starting with his denunciation of Wall Street's influence.
Source: Boulevard Voltaire