There has been some confusion why Germany and the Eurozone are so strict in negotiating with France and unwilling to concede even to the smallest of what they deem as outlandish Greek demands. The reason is not so much whether Spain or even Italy, both countries with soaring unemployment, a lost generation and a sweeping movement against “austerity”, follow with comparable demands should Europe concede to Tsipras, but France, where the frontrunner for the next president, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, has just warned that not only is a Grexit inevitable, but that France would follow shortly.
Here it is worth reminding that one of the biggest European concerns with Greece is not so much its resolute attitude toward Greek demands which Europe can easily squash and force a regime change by cutting off ELA to Greek banks forcing a prompt and violent coup d’etat, but dealing with political parties who promise anything and everything just to be elected, in the process pushing aside Europe’s preferred technocrats who will do the bidding of Brussels without the smallest objection.
Le Pen is not a technocrat. In fact, as leader of the popular right-wing National Front party she is about as diametrically opposite as one can get to being a puppet of unelected bureaucrats. And that is concerning to Europe because having seen how easy it is for a populist party to get elected in Greece, promising an end to austerity and, if necessary, an exit from the Euro which in addition has become the “black sheep” political parties bogeyman.
Sure enough, that’s precisely Le Pen’s game plan: as she told Bloomberg in a recent interview, Le Pen, a frontrunner in France’s 2017 presidential election, says a Greek exit from the euro is inevitable. “And if it’s up to her, France won’t be far behind.”
“We’ve won a few months’ respite but the problem will come back,” Le Pen said of Greece in an interview at her National Front party headquarters in Nanterre, near Paris, on Tuesday. “Today we’re talking about Grexit, tomorrow it will be Brexit, and the day after tomorrow it will be Frexit.”
And Brussels is listening. Le Pen, 46, is leading first-round presidential election polls in France, ahead of President Francois Hollande, ex-leader Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Manuel Valls. This is hardly good news for the Eurozone because she’s the only one of the four calling for France to exit the euro, banking on people’s exasperation with the Greek crisis and Britain’s proposed referendum on the European Union to win over voters.
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed concern about the level of support Le Pen will receive in 2017 and how that power might weigh on French economic policy.“She knows perfectly well that if France leaves, there’s no more euro,” Le Pen said. Although Le Pen hasn’t given a full, detailed plan of how she would lead her country out of the euro, she says she doesn’t believe France would be shut out of the borrowing market or rejected by investors as a result.