Tomorrow France is electing a president and thing look pretty dire for conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. France's Bling Bling president is the only politician on the planet who eats in fancier and more expensive French restaurants than Newt Gingrich and, other than perhaps Mitt Romney, there is no one more clearly identified with the aspirations of the one-percent. He's the most unpopular president since World War II and seems likely to be spending his final days at the Élysée Palace. After is stunning defeat in the first round of voting, he's moved abruptly right-- in the direction of the teabagger (or populist right)-- beyond the traditional concerns of the 1%. And then the accusations of how his first election was funded by Qaddafi has further roiled the waters and added to the mistrust most Frenchmen feel towards him. Yesterday was the final day of campaigning and the big headline is that former candidate, centrist Francois Bayrou, who took almost 10% in the first round, said he's voting for Hollande. Worse news for Sarkozy is that the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen, who came in third, called on her supporters to sit on their hands and not close ranks behind Sarkozy. That was pretty much the death knell for his chances at reelection. Sarkozy's desperate followers are reacting to the impending defeat the way right-wing thugs always react to adversity-- violently.
Meanwhile another Austerity advocate, British Prime Minister David Cameron, saw his party-- and his coalition-- decimated in local elections across the U.K. Cameron apologized to hundreds of Conservative councillors who lost their seats and his coalition partner, Nick Clegg, will be lucky to hold onto the Lib-Dem leadership. Looks like Labor took 823 new Council seats while the Conservatives lost 405 and the Lib-Dems lost 336. The Conservatives wound up with less than a third of the votes cast. The radical right faction within the Conservative Party are claiming that Cameron hasn't been far enough right, even though the BNP (a local Nazi-like party that resembles the GOP lost at least 75% of it's seats). Sound familiar? At the same time, the Lib-Dems feel trapped in a coalition many of them would like to get out of.
Lord Oakeshott, an irritant to the leadership and an adviser to the business secretary, Vince Cable, issued a blunt warning.
He said: "The facts are that two out of every five of our very hard working councillors last year and this year have lost their seats. We have got to face it, we have had another very substantial swath of our crucial activist base wiped away. We have had a few successful rearguard guerrilla actions, but what matters for me is whether we can fight the next election as a nationwide, powerful, independent force. If we have another year like this we will not be able to.
"Two years on from the election the economy is flat on its back, and if we cannot get the economy to grow we cannot get the deficit down. So unless there is a change, both coalition parties and our country are heading for the rocks."
He called for bold action, saying the banks including RBS had to be forced to lend.
He said all that was coming from the Treasury and David Cameron was pussyfooting about. "They talk about it, but they won't act."
The party president, Tim Farron, admitted the two parties believed wildly different things, but they had to co-operate like grownups. But he added "the party had to be a bit more spiky and a bit more independent."