Corbis Fanny (Danube Institute) Review his writing about Capx.co
Conservative political forces have won persuasive elections in Hungary, Poland, Bavaria and Austria in recent years, and the Conservatives have dominated the United Kingdom for a decade. In France, the opposite happened, with the support of the establishment’s conservative party – Les Républicains – collapsing. The party, which has been under the leadership of Nicolas Sarkozy and is still a factor in world politics, currently holds less than twenty percent of the seats in the French legislature. But what could spoil it?
The picture is not clear in some ways. Election results across Europe show that people desperately want to see conservative solutions that can address challenges such as mass and illegal immigration, the effects of climate change, and the perceived erosion of Western culture and values.
Why couldn’t the French conservatives seize the moment? What should they do to defeat Emmanuel Macron’s centrist liberal coalition?
On the other hand, it is necessary to expand the voting base. In the UK, working-class societies are now voting Conservatives for the first time in traditional Labor constituencies. A similar transformation occurred in Hungary: the countryside, small towns and villages became conservative. In Austria, voters along the lines of values and business elites formed into an unexpected but enduring conservative alliance. On the other hand, the French right cannot win over believers outside its traditional electoral base.
On the other hand, it must be recognized that values and culture are important considerations for many societies. Fidesz, the Hungarian ruling party, is particularly adept at dealing with sensitive debates about immigration. Together with Poland, he set up a conservative center in Central Europe, which now includes the Italian, Bavarian and Austrian political forces. These parties also take a common position on other popular actions, such as supporting families in order to reverse the alarming demographic decline in the region. In addition to references to immigration, Tory ministers’ vigorous high-level campaigns to protect free speech and curb abolition culture are also clear examples of addressing voters on the basis of values.
French conservatives currently lack this kind of purposeful and disciplined approach. They don’t have enough time before the election to change that either, but Marine Le Pen’s suspension presents an opportunity for Republic Valerie Pecres to get into at least the second round. Le Pen has fallen ten percentage points in just a few months, and now stands at 17 percent, just two points ahead of Beckers, who is one point behind Eric Zemmour on the right. If Pécresse can extract a specific set of measures from the sometimes excessively abstract values of his party, he may enter the second round and begin to rebuild the reputation of the French right. (For now, the dream of becoming president of the republic is really a dream. Polls show that Macron will defeat Pepres by a large margin in the second round.)
An effective family policy may be a good starting point. In Hungary, a number of specific measures have been introduced, from tax exemptions for mothers with four or more children to the creation of new nurseries and kindergartens. Married couples can obtain state-backed loans and mortgages. Poland encourages young people to start a family with similar initiatives.
It is true that France spends a large amount of its budget on family policy, but the fertility rate is stagnating. While French family policy is primarily based on the institution of childcare for families, the government in Hungary tends to allow families access to their homes, thus promoting a much-needed sense of stability in today’s societies. Supporting young couples and families to access their first property can have far greater long-term benefits than simply providing them with financial support.
The task is to strike a delicate balance. Conservative parties across Europe need to find ways to balance declining demographic trends with family-friendly measures, while respecting voters’ desire to curb illegal immigration. At the height of the migrant crisis, the EU Commission’s demand to force member states to accept migrants despite their sovereign preferences could have been a mobilizing force in France, creating a great need for strong and wise conservative leadership, but this did not happen. This was the case.
French Republicans can learn a lot from the British model and from others within the European Union. No wonder the candidates have planned to visit London and Budapest, which Eric Zemmour, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron have done in recent months.
Oddly enough, Pecres has made no effort yet to build on that experience, although it would be very reasonable for the French Republicans, if they really wanted to get past their streak of misfortune, to learn from the right-wing winners of the streak recently. It seemed that they were already late in this case, a miracle for them. It would definitely be worth getting started as soon as possible.
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