24 APRIL 2002
Cartoon this week: A union with a mission
Thinking of France and of Europe
By Saviour Balzan
The success of right wing French politician Jean Marie Le Pen came as a shock to Europe.
The appearance of a liar, a xenophobe, a nationalist as a potential presidential contender shocked many French and Europeans alike.
As is the case with extremists, his support lies in the heart of French towns with the fair share of disenchanted French working and middle class folk.
The only way to understand the success of Le Pen is to look at the convergence of their right and left political parties to the centre of the political map, the fragmentation of the left and the rising general dissatisfaction with the political class.
Le Pen wishes to take France out of Europe, he is also violently anti-immigration.
Thankfully for France, the 74 year-old will not win in the May election, but his dent on Frances image is there for all to see.
The Le Pen phenomena, also puts into perspective the frailty of Europes future and it gives some fire to the eurosceptic camp.
The lesson from Le Pens success is that politics must not appear too distant from the people.
Jospin and Chirac could not quash the charisma and simplistic nationalism of the man who once described the holocaust as a detail.
They have also helped to put spokes in the wheels for the future of Europe.
Will common sense prevail?
Time will only tell.
The left in France have vowed to support Chirac. A lesser of two evils one would say.
This argument takes us back to Malta and the pig-headed position expressed by Alfred Sant; that he will ignore the referendum since this being organised by the party in government. This is downright puerile. It also beckons us to ask whether moderate Labourites will choose to support the lesser of two evils.
One cannot understand Alfred Sant. He argues in this way, because he believes that to win an election he must not have distractions.
And in no way does he wish to be influenced by the popular expression of the people.
There is a dilemma, which appears to influence the government; that one should play to Alfred Sants tune.
Many argue that Dr Sant will do anything to win the next election.
If this is true that this is indeed very dangerous.
We are willing to give Dr Sant the benefit of the doubt and listen to his arguments.
Why is he against the referendum? Can he tell us why?
Sooner or later, one will have to decide which method will determine Maltas entry into Europe.
If the election is to be the governing factor then all europhiles will eventually work to form a network or grand coalition to make this succeed.
The outcome of that decision should be respected by all. The final decision will contribute to clarify matters and it should seal the fate of the political masters.
Staying out of Europe will be a disaster but not the end of the world. Being in Europe will be the future, but not a final solution to all our problems
Alfred Sant will be no exception to the rule. And he knows this.