“Conservatives in France May Be Brewing Le Tea Party”
The Washington Post, April 1, 2014, p.A1
“Steeped in conservative rage and tasting of grass roots, a political backlash has traditional politicians and the news media asking the once-unthinkable: Is le tea party brewing in France? … Initially a reaction to a same-sex marriage law passed last year, the movement has morphed into the most sustained mobilization of social conservatives here in more than a generation. A reinvigorated right delivered a devastating blow to [French President François] Hollande in Sunday’s local elections across the country, prompting a humbled Hollande to reshuffle the French government on Monday. … Tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets in repeated protests, many for the first time in their lives. They are organizing assemblies and social-media campaigns even as some angry newcomers run against incumbents on the right whom they consider not socially conservative enough. … And although the movement remains fragmented and lacks a fresh-faced leader to rally around, all adherents share one thing in common: a visceral loathing of Hollande. … The convergence of social conservatives has made for strange bedfellows, even for France. Upper-middle-class Catholics are on the march, but so are conservative Muslims, some of whom voted for Hollande. Some analysts here compare the current shift in France to the Reagan Democrats, when American working-class voters moved to the right. Add the stagnant economy and stubbornly high unemployment rate under Hollande, and it could be a recipe for political disaster.”
Quickie analysis: Disaster for les socialistes, perhaps, but the party of thrice-married former president Nicolas Sarkozy is hoping to capitalize on French voters’ new focus on family values.