When you think of a typical Frenchman, do you picture a hale and hardy ninety-year-old white dude pedalling his bicycle through the verdant countryside with a big bagatelle and a jumbo flask of red wine in the carrier, while puffing on an unfiltered cigarette?
Or do you picture an alienated young man with dark skin cooped up in an urban high-rise, wondering why this cradle of modern secularism renders him a second-class citizen even though he was born there?
That guy on the bike is a stereotype, to be sure. He's of that generation who engineered all those goodies that Michael Moore never tires of reminding us of. He landed a good job straight out of school and between the annual mandatory three months of holidays and being on strike six months of the year only did an actual 5.2 years of work before hitting the mandatory retirement age of fifty, and life's been nothing but red wine, cigarettes, and bike rides ever since!
That other guy is a stereotype too, but like it or not, the population of alienated brown people in France is growing rapidly, while that other stereotype is fading away.
It hasn't helped that Hollande the Hapless has, over his mandate, further alienated both of those groups. Which brings us to the next election.
The so-called "centre-right" candidate next April is to be Francois Fillon, it was determined today. Fillon isn't any more centre-right than the socialist president as near as I can tell. Seems to be a bit more hawkish on taking benefits away from that guy on the bike. If Fillon has his way that guy will be renting a room in that urban high-rise from a Muslim family.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Getting to know other cultures is always a good thing, but forcing old Jean off his bike and off his wine and ciggies is just going to create animosity. Maybe Jean will decide he'd rather die... maybe that's the plan? Getting all those old fuckers off the pension rolls would be a huge money saver, after all.
So, even though the mainstream press already foresee the April election as a show-down between Fillon and Marine Le Pen, I don't see either of our stereotypical Frenchmen having any reason to vote for Fillon.
Much will depend on who represents the French Left. While Hollande wasn't much of a "socialist," France, unlike the US, actually has a genuine left polity. Given the right candidate for the times, and the candidate will not be selected until January, it's possible to see that the greater showdown could be between the Left Front and Le Pen.
Hollande has been a complete disaster. In the first place, he's spent virtually the entirety of his mandate with his head up BHL's ass. It's fine to have presidential advisers, but when their advice is consistently and disastrously wrong, you can't just blame the adviser and walk away.
Given the right Left candidate, I can see both our stereotypical Frenchmen voting Left Front, as well as a goodly portion of the electorate who voted Hollande in 2012. That could keep Le Pen out and bring a genuinely progressive and inclusive party to power.
Which is where ISIS comes in. The Europeans in general, and nobody more enthusiastically than the French, have been co-conspirators with the US in the project to destroy the Muslim nations of the Middle East. Whether we're saving the people from their tyrants or eliminating their weapons of mass destruction or whatever gloss we want to put on it, we've been busy destroying the Middle East. That has created both an unprecedented refugee crisis and ISIS. Not hard to figure out that those two phenomena are mutually reinforcing.
Spare me the bullshit head-scratching about the clash of civilizations and why they hate us; they hate us because we've been stealing their stuff and killing their kids for generations. Ask that alienated young Muslim in that high-rise. He knows, even as the savants and the political elite pretend they can't figure it out.
So France is five months out from a presidential election and awash with refugees from countries the West has been "liberating." A certain unknown percentage of those refugees will be hard-core radicals. A much larger percentage have at least some sympathy for that hard core. Every time one of those hard-core radicals explodes in a French shopping mall between now and April, Le Pens polling numbers will spike.
That's how ISIS will determine who becomes the next president of France.