The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Germans hate the idea of the Turks as EU members, too

Conformism may not be such a religion in western Europe as it is in the US, but there has certainly been a lot of it about.

Leaving aside the dictatorships of the inter-war period and the quisling regimes of those parts occupied by said dictatorships during World War 2, the instinct to go along - or, at least, to confine civil conflict within bounds - has been a powerful one.

A paradox, for instance, exists in the post-war history of France: a large Communist party mobilising labour, ministers in government, pre-war Popular Front dreams coming belatedly true for the Reds, it seemed for a while. Then the double disaster of Indo-China and Algeria, the 1958 military coup, rampant inflation - foreign correspondents looked like Christmas tigers with continuous head-shaking as disaster succeeded disaster.

All the while, the foundations for the successful post-war economy were being built and society was generally hanging together. Even when, in May 1968, the Renault workers from the plant at Boulogne-Billancourt joined the revolting students in Paris, the country was scarcely in a pre-revolutionary state [1]: most people had far too much to lose [2].

Over this period was consolidated the infamous political class to which a curious sort of deference was generally paid. These chaps, legitimised by the freemasonry of the ENA and the success of the colbertiste brand of capitalism which énarque methods brought, adopted an Olympian attitude to their electorate. A large element of corruption was factored into the price, a price that most seemed prepared, if not happy, to pay.

There can have been few French monarchs with the visceral appreciation of a divine right to rule that was apparent in François Mitterrand; yet the guy was re-elected by the lower-beings to serve a second seven year term. His reign over the EU in tandem with Helmut Kohl involved scarcely more humility on Mitterrand's part.

One marker of the extent to which their methods and attitudes persist is not only the relative ease but also the utter lack of shame with which both France and Germany have flouted the budget deficit limits imposed on Euroland members. (I seem to recall that Portugal was hammered for committing the same offence.)

Some sign that Turkey is the bridge too far. I mentioned yesterday the opposition that Jacques Chirac is facing amongst his people to his Turcomania.

Now, it seems that the Germans are balking at Turkish EU entry too [3]:
An opinion poll this morning for Die Welt newspaper shows that...[s]ome 62% of Germans are against Turkish membership, with only 33% in favour.

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is, of course, on board in principle: but is talking about negotiations lasting ten to fifteen years. And Helmut Kohl has declared himself opposed to Turkish membership.

And even Chirac is contemplating a fallback position: the partenariat privilégié, what looks like a gold-plated version of the free-trade zone they have already. Naturally, the Turks reject this out of hand.

Chirac is making a TV address tonight...

  1. De Gaulle's famous trip to see General Massu in Germany seems in retrospect a sign of panic - Massu got the release of the generals behind the April 1961 attempted putsch in return for his declaration of support, so somebody got something out of it...

  2. Even during the depression of the 1930s, the tinder wasn't dry enough: for a flavour, one could do worse than read the only treatment in English (by Max Beloff) that I have to hand of the riots in Paris on February 6 1934 in a book of essays on French history, The Decline of the Third Republic available at Million Book Project. The essential journalistic history of the period in English is to be found in the books of Alexander Werth - a sort of John Gunther on France and Russia.

  3. This has a completely different summary of the Die Welt poll:
    Some 60 percent of Germans want Turkey's ties to the European Union (EU) to be limited to a "privileged partnership" - a second class membership - which has been rejected by the Turkish government, said the TNS Emnid agency survey for the conservative newspaper Die Welt.

    A further 22 percent reject creating even this form of a link between Turkey and the EU and want no formal ties at all.

    The poll shows 15 percent of those surveyed want to offer Ankara full EU membership.

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