The Corner

National Security & Defense

First Brexit, Now ‘Frexit’?

While attention turns to the impending Brexit vote, it should be noted that Euroscepticism isn’t just a British thing.

In an interview on Tuesday, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-right National Front, reiterated her pledge to hold a referendum on France’s membership in the European Union within six months of winning the country’s presidency, should she succeed in doing so in next year’s presidential election. Echoing the rhetoric of Nigel Farage, the star of the Brexit referendum, she hit all the classic anti-EU points — it’s “totalitarian,” prevents member countries from controlling immigration levels, and causes the high unemployment and low growth that has beset the French economy.

Le Pen’s call for a referendum doesn’t come out of left field:  Euroscepticism is even stronger in France than it is in Britain — and, in fact, anywhere in Europe except Greece. That’s the gist of a recent Pew poll that found that 61 percent of French people view the EU unfavorably. In most of core Europe — Britain, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands — that figure hovers in the upper forties. The Eurosceptic politics that have enjoyed so much success in Britain might face brighter prospects in France; France, and not Britain, might be the ticking time bomb at the heart of the European project. Britain is expendable — if it goes, the EU could continue on, maybe better off than it was before. But the EU is, at its heart, a relationship between France and Germany; “Frexit” would be an existential crisis.

French Euroscepticism takes a somewhat different form than its British cousin. Whereas staunchly right-wing figures in Britain are the public face of that country’s suspicion of Brussels, the situation is different in France. There, in an alliance reminiscent of the early days of British Euroscepticism, the far-left and far-right exist in a sort of odd anti-EU partnership. In the 2012 presidential elections, the only candidates to express seriously Eurosceptic views were Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the Communist Left Front party.

The Pew poll contains a prognosis that should worry European elites seeking ever-closer union. The unfavorability rating of 61 percent for the EU in France is one thing; that the Germans, Spanish, and Dutch are just as unhappy with the EU as are the British would seem to pose a substantial democratic obstacle to further integration. And, given that without further political integration the eurozone’s many difficulties are unlikely to be resolved, the EU may face a Gordian knot. Of course, popular opposition has rarely stopped Brussels in the past, so it might be easily overcome when the next round of integration comes around.

At some point, though, you get the feeling that something will have to give.  Regardless of whether Britain votes to leave tomorrow, there are crucial lessons to be learned from the whole affair. Chief among those lessons is that support for the European project is far more fragile than it looks. If EU elites fail to address the simmering popular discontent with their institutions, the future of the European project may be imperiled.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Merciless Sympathy

Jussie Smollett’s phony hate-crime story could have been taken apart in 24 hours, except for one thing: Nobody wanted to be the first to call bullsh**. Who will bell the cat? Not the police, and I don’t blame them. Smollett is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump who checks two protected-category ... Read More