The French have had two months to sort out the lessons of last fall's riots in predominately Muslim neighborhoods. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says the rioting was caused by racial bias, lack of business opportunity and insufficient education for immigrant children. He vows tax breaks for business, better education for immigrant children and tougher enforcement of anti-bias laws. For this conclusion, the French media, which is more left wing than the American press, praised him.Most of the rest of the article is a Thomas interview with Jean-Marie Le Pen of the "far right" National Front (FN) party. Le Pen has long been quite vocal about the need for France to establish restrictions on immigration of non-Europeans. He has been demonized in the French media, but may now be leading the second largest party in the country. Unfortunately, Le Pen is no friend of free market capitalism, so there's not much hope he would lead the country down the road of economic revitalization.
It's difficult to find voices for sensible economics on the French political scene, which is the best hope for solving the problems of the "suburbs" where the rioting was occuring. We suppose it's a good thing that the Socialist Party is discredited and in disarray. The "right" coalition UMP, led by Jacques Chirac is socialist enough in its outlook. Good news: Nicholas Sarkozy has a sizeable lead over Dominique De Villepin among the UMP and the Right as their choice for the next UMP presidential candidate.
The French news magazine Marianne had a blurb in December about a poll commisionned by Lyon Mag about the riots. This poll covered the attitudes of young people in the areas around Lyon where the riots occurred. The results are interesting:
84% disapprove of the car burningsSince only a total of 35% feel close to the political parties mentioned, and presumably few feel close to the FN, apparently the rest don't feel close to any political group.
30% dream of owning a business someday
2% feel close to the extreme left (presumably the Communists and Greens)
2% feel close to the UMP
31% feel close to socialists
73% feel confident about their future
by 50% to 46% say the French are not racist