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Monday, 07 May 2012 17:44

Socialist Wins in France: Two Articles Explain the Historical and Current Context

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"France, Okay, But Could a Socialist Gain Power in the US? Here's How It Almost Happened" by Greg Mitchell of the Nation, and "François Hollande wins French presidential election" by Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian.

France, Okay, But Could a Socialist Gain Power in the US? Here's How It Almost Happened by Greg Mitchell | The Nation

Note: Greg Mitchell’s book The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair’s Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize, has recently been published in its first e-book edition and in a new print edition.

French voters today elected a Socialist, François Hollande, to head their government, the first time that has happened in two decades. Could this happen some time soon in America, or ever? A stray Socialist might get elected to Congress—see Sanders, Bernie—and strong progressives, with our without the capital P, have occasionally taken the reins in a major city or small state. But for perhaps the leading example of a near-takeover in a giant state one has to go back nearly eighty years. It's an important example, too, as a new debate simmers over whether Occupy Wall Street activists should throw some of their energy into electing allies to office.

Of all the left-wing mass movements that arose in the early years of the Great Depression, Upton Sinclair’s End Poverty in California (EPIC) crusade proved most influential, and not just in helping to push the New Deal to the left. The Sinclair threat—after he easily won the Democratic gubernatorial primary—so profoundly alarmed conservatives that it sparked the creation of the modern political campaign, with its reliance on hired guns, advertising and media tricks, national fundraising, attack ads on the screen and more.

Profiling two of the creators of the anti-Sinclair campaign, Carey McWilliams would later call this (in The Nation) “a new era in American politics—government by public relations.” It also provoked Hollywood’s first all-out plunge into politics, which, in turn, inspired the leftward tilt in the movie colony that endures to this day. [Read complete article at The Nation]


François Hollande wins French presidential election by Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian

Nicolas Sarkozy concedes defeat to Socialist party candidate, who has become first leftwing president in almost 20 years

François Hollande has won power in France, turning the tide on a rightwards and xenophobic lurch in European politics and vowing to transform Europe's handling of the economic crisis by fighting back against German-led austerity measures.

The 57-year-old rural MP and self-styled Mr Normal, a moderate social democrat from the centre of the Socialist party, is France's first leftwing president in almost 20 years. Projections from early counts, released by French TV, put his score at 51.9%.

His emphatic victory is a boost to the left in a continent that has gradually swung rightwards since the economic crisis broke four years ago.

Nicolas Sarkozy, defeated after one term in office, became the 11th European leader to lose power since the economic crisis in 2008.

He conceded defeat at a gathering of his party activists at the Mutualité in central Paris, urging them from the stage to stop booing Hollande. "I carry all the responsibility for this defeat," he said. [Read complete article at The Guardian]

Read 2623 times Last modified on Monday, 07 May 2012 17:54

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