In the first round of voting, Hollande and Sarkozy are expected to finish first and second, and enter the runoff May 5.
One debate is scheduled. Sarkozy wants two. Hollande is seen a a bore. However unpopular Sarkozy is, he is not.
Looking at the speeches of the leading contenders and the issues they are emphasizing, what does this tell us about France -- and Europe?
First, Europe's economic crisis has engendered a deep resentment against the rich that, if reflected in the tax policy of Hollande, could cause an exodus. France's most productive and successful citizens would likely flee to countries where the tax rates do not confiscate the rewards of their labors.
Second, anti-immigrant sentiment is surging, especially against Muslim and Third World peoples. Yet, as no EU country has a birthrate that will enable it to replace its present population, immigration is certain to continue, as will the ethnonational recoil against it.
In the name of EU solidarity, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had agreed to campaign for Sarkozy. He no longer seems to want her.
Third, as nationalism is on the boil in France and across Europe, globalism and transnationalism -- the vision of an EU evolving into a federal union, a United States of Europe, leading to the dream of One World -- no longer seem to be the future. They no longer inspire, if ever they did.
Among France's young, it is Marine Le Pen who runs strongest at 26 percent.
Neither Le Pen nor Melenchon, who together will amass more votes than Hollande or Sarkozy, supports further surrenders of French sovereignty. To augment its power and deepen its presence on the continent, the EU will have to overcome rising popular resistance.
Economic nationalism appears a growth stock on the right and left, as it was in the United States in the NAFTA debate, when Socialist Bernie Sanders marched with Ross Perot.
Great crises often bring people together.
Our Revolutionary War was indispensable to creating America.
But as Gideon Rachman writes in the Financial Times, Europe's crisis is "encouraging the citizens of the European Union to fall back on older, more deeply rooted national identities."
The people of France and the peoples of Europe seem to be returning to their roots, to whom they were, and to whom they wish to be again.
Europe is coming apart -- and so, it appears, are we.
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