1
   

France + Holland say NO - signal of a political watershed?

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2005 04:10 pm
-- Anybody know how to translate "Zeitwende" into English? Razz --

In the "Following the European Union" thread, the focus is now on the Dutch results of the referendum on the European Constitution. After France, The Netherlands too has said "no" - and even more resoundingly. Results in about the page of posts from here onward.

Surveying the results, I digressed into broad-brush mode. See below. Are we at the brink of a new political era? Or have we already launched headlong into it, these past couple of years - the European version of post-9/11 polarisation and communalism, perhaps?


-------------------------------

nimh wrote:
To my mind, the socio-geopgraphy of the NO vote that shows up in these numbers speaks much more loudly than any number of long-winded, self-important editorials. It evokes a clear pattern.

OK, I kind of obliged myself to follow up there, didnt I.

An article I'm also translating (or was, until the election results got in the way) still concerns the French referendum's results. I found it a real eye-opener, especially after all the talk [..] about the results in terms of left vs right, center vs extremes etc. Instead, says the article, we should see it simply - however anachronistic this may gonna sound - as good old fashioned class struggle. Very interesting. Will post later, but for now this key outtake:

Quote:

The Dutch local results that I've been spouting basically echo the French results, if with a cultural twist here and there. Workers voted NO. Intellectuals voted YES. The wealthy voted YES; so did liberal suburbanites. But common-folk in Labour strongholds voted NO, as did the communalist Protestant fishing towns and bible belt villages.

Now please allow me some broad-brush grandstanding. Because I think these referenda might signal nothing much less than a "Zeitwende", a turning point between eras.

They coincide with British elections in which Tony Blair did not win because, but in spite of his reformist, market-oriented self-delineation from the classic Labour Party. That party was (rightly or wrongly) symbolically represented by his rival Gordon Brown, who will probably soon take over. They also coincide with an electoral collapse of Gerhard Schroeder's "New Center" project in Germany, which had promised, way back in 1998, to take the SPD down a Blairite "Third Way". Instead, the centre-left is collapsing. A tough-minded Right is riding high now in Germany, while on the other hand a potential hard left party is promised a windfall in the polls even before its proposed constituent parts have gotten their act together.

In Holland, opinion polls have shown the centre-right government collapsing the past year or two. Attention was justifiably focused on the momentary, spectacular rise of the populist Geert Wilders and his one-man "Group", which stepped in Pim Fortuyn's anti-immigrant, anti-Islam shoes. But more consistent gains were made on the left - and ever less so by the socialdemocratic Labour Party and its reformist leader Wouter Bos, whose gains are now down to less than a handful seats. Instead, its far-left rival, the Socialist Party, is set to double its seats.

In case I havent lost you yet with all the details: the liberals - and I mean that both in the American and the European definition - are dead. Forget mere communitarianism; collectivism is back. We knew the stock of nationalism and xenophobic populism was rising. More astonishingly, it's an almost-forgotten old-fashioned socialism that's following its lead. The apparent upwind for the Christian Union may be a local thing, but neatly completes the picture. Whether classist, nationalist or religious, the collective is used as a shield against looming economic, cultural and social insecuritisation (Verunsicherung). The result will be a further resurgent polarisation - and a marginalisation of "enlightened" free-thinkers in both camps.

These will become tough times for postmaterialist Greens or wholly materialist free-market partisans. Thomas is cheering now, but he may come to regret it still. Myself, I've been more than exasperated with the mindless, egoist grabbing of the booming 1990s; how I hated the spoiled, resentful, fat-fed bunch the Dutch had become. And how I resented the way those wishy-washy socialdemocrats, pretty much everywhere, totally wasted the chance they got when they were elected back in office that decade: Bill Clinton and "four more years / of things not getting worse". I cant say I havent felt much like swinging back far to the left myself recently, especially as the grabbing was replaced by hatin'. But at the same time this whole, vaguely emerging prospect of resurgent polarisation, collectivism and populism fills me with a kind of still-undefined dread.

It may still all turn out differently. I realise how much of this sounds awfully like the late seventies, after all. Perhaps Sarkozy and Merkel will use the occasion to push the tide yet again in a different direction, like Thatcher did back then. In that case, Thomas will be right to cheer after all - and I will really be pissed.
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 5,280 • Replies: 59
No top replies

 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2005 04:18 pm
I follow along with interest if not understanding.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2005 04:48 pm
Bookmark
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2005 04:55 pm
Zeitweinde, good word. We already use "zeitgeist" because we don't have anything better, might as well start using that one too.

Interesting observations, it's something we've talked about in relation to American politics and I still don't quite get. That anecdote about the poor mom (?) who was being directly hurt by Bush's policies but voted for him.

Ugh, sozlet's pulling at me, more later.
0 Replies
 
satt fs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2005 04:57 pm
Quote:
-- Anybody know how to translate "Zeitwende" into English? --

Zeitwende (Zeitenwende).. turning point in history
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2005 05:19 pm
One point that may be a long past prequel to this point--

I thought France, certainly Germany (I know they haven't voted yet) have long been considered nationalistic.

Some saw Chirac's hand being forced (opinion) to route the Muslim's headscarves as a nod to a growing nationalistic movement. The blip of Le Pen...

I guess what I'm asking is--when were they NOT nationalistic? What characterized that period?

The Netherlands--as far as I know--aren't seen as France and Germany are re this national bent-- (until now). (And Van Gogh)

But, haven't French citizens always been regarded as ...individualistic? This is one reason even those here who don't have a great deal of knowledge about French society or trends didn't believe France would allow herself to be absorbed in a larger sovereign entity.

To me--it is a contest on which is more palatable..

sovereignty

or

the chance to eclipse the superpower.

I know that is extremely general, but in a nutshell--how would a European view the biggest positive and the biggest negative of joining the EU as the Consitution is?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2005 05:25 pm
It is certain that the decision of France and Germany to link their economies through the use of the Euro was such a turning point in European history. The Euro likely would have been a pretty flaccid attempt at unification without the unqualified support of the two largest economies on the continent. Over the last few decades, there has seemed to be an oscillation of opinion, with nationalism asserting itself, and then pragmatisim (in Habibi's terms, a capitalist oligarchy asserting its desires) asserting itself to effect changes which are good for business.

The constitution is a joke, and its rejection is probably the best thing that could happen for the future of a truly workable union. Which is not to say that either the French or the Dutch rejected it on such grounds.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2005 05:47 pm
Lash wrote:
I thought France, certainly Germany (I know they haven't voted yet) have long been considered nationalistic.

[..] I guess what I'm asking is--when were they NOT nationalistic? What characterized that period?

[..] But, haven't French citizens always been regarded as ...individualistic?

I would say that post-war Germany (West-Germany, that is) was the single least nationalist country of Europe. Never before has a country that size for fourty-odd years reneged so consistently from military ambitions or involvement or from any impulse to dominate and impose - and never before has a nation so thoroughly soulsearched and sternly re-evaluated itself, its identity, history and politics, for over twenty years.

As for the French ... they are usually seen as patriotic rather than nationalistic, but to go into that whole difference would require expounding about the difference between political or civic and ethnic or cultural nations. In any case the emphasis on France as a secular, modern nation of citizens, who choose their identity rather than being born into it, neglects the parallel tradition in the same country, the more ethnic-oriented, conservative (counter)tradition of Vichy and Jean-Marie Le Pen.

(Setanta is going to kick my ass about this sloppy, cursory and rambling summary. Sorry, its late.. This is all quite a digression in any case.)
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2005 06:28 pm
Naw, you're doin' fine . . . i would like you to expound, when you feel up to it, on your contention that the current votes have been class-oriented . . .
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 12:08 am
Zeitwende = turning point in history. satt was correct, that's how it is translated in (history, political sciences etc) books.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 12:11 am
Just adding to nimh's analysis that everyone, who's going to be nationalistic at least is 'observed' closely, most likely by the Federal and(or) State Offices for the Protection of the Constitution :wink:


(And Germany had voted: last week the first chamber, the Bundesrat, agreed as well as the the Bundestag had done before.)
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 01:01 am
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Zeitwende = turning point in history. satt was correct, that's how it is translated in (history, political sciences etc) books.


A more prosaic, and evocative term in English, then, would be "a watershed." From Princeton University's website: "landmark: an event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend; 'the agreement was a watershed in the history of both nations.' "
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 01:12 am
'Watershed' seems to be as good if not better, indeed, since 'Zeitwende' was used mainly in the meaning "turn of the century" until recently.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 04:07 am
Setanta wrote:
Naw, you're doin' fine . . . i would like you to expound, when you feel up to it, on your contention that the current votes have been class-oriented . . .

Can't find an exit poll by income, but here's a most unambiguous one by education:

Low education (VMBO, LO)
YES 27,6%
NO 71,4%

Middle education (HAVO, MBO)
YES 35,2%
NO 63,8%

High education (VWO, HBO)
YES 46,9%
NO 51,6%
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 04:09 am
Watershed it is, then ;-)
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 04:16 am
Setanta wrote:
Naw, you're doin' fine . . . i would like you to expound, when you feel up to it, on your contention that the current votes have been class-oriented . . .

My original take about this was from an article about the French referendum, which I'll still translate some time. But that it was echoed in the Dutch result became quickly clear as the results came in from town to town, city to city, and the regional spread of the NO-vote started giving unmistakable indications. See this post, this post, this post, and finally the results from Rotterdam and Utrecht here (all in the Following the EU thread).
0 Replies
 
Brand X
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 05:28 am
What is the first line of the American constitution?

"We the people of the United States of America....."


What was the preamble of this European constitution?

HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF THE BELGIANS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC, HER MAJESTY THE
QUEEN OF DENMARK, THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF ESTONIA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC, HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF SPAIN, THE
PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF IRELAND, THE PRESIDENT OF THE ITALIAN
REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA, THE
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUKE OF LUXEMBOURG, THE
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF HUNGARY, THE PRESIDENT OF MALTA, HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF THE
NETHERLANDS, THE FEDERAL PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
OF POLAND, THE PRESIDENT OF THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF
SLOVENIA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF FINLAND, THE
GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF SWEDEN, HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF
GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND,...

It says it all, does it not.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 05:33 am
It does, Brand X.

However, the constitution of the USA isn't only 200 years oleder, for just one country and not for 25+ independent and sovereign EU members, besides, it's not a paper, which has to include some hundreds of treaties etc. from about 50 years.

That doesn't say all, but different, does it not.
0 Replies
 
Brand X
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 05:48 am
Walter Hinteler wrote:
It does, Brand X.

However, the constitution of the USA isn't only 200 years oleder, for just one country and not for 25+ independent and sovereign EU members, besides, it's not a paper, which has to include some hundreds of treaties etc. from about 50 years.

That doesn't say all, but different, does it not.


Who ever thought the EU constitution could work pertaining to all it had to encompass?

A friend of mine who lives in Estonia said it has made conditions much worse for the lower income people.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 05:52 am
Brand X wrote:
Who ever thought the EU constitution could work pertaining to all it had to encompass?

A friend of mine who lives in Estonia said it has made conditions much worse for the lower income people.


We don't have a constitution.

And actually I can't understand, what the EU has to do with "lower income people", since this definately is the affair of the member country (although e.g. Estonia gets a resonable sum from the EU).
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

THE BRITISH THREAD II - Discussion by jespah
FOLLOWING THE EUROPEAN UNION - Discussion by Mapleleaf
The United Kingdom's bye bye to Europe - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
Sinti and Roma: History repeating - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
[B]THE RED ROSE COUNTY[/B] - Discussion by Mathos
Leaving today for Europe - Discussion by cicerone imposter
So you think you know Europe? - Discussion by nimh
 
  1. Forums
  2. » France + Holland say NO - signal of a political watershed?
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 10/05/2022 at 03:43:24