European politics has always been a messy business.

Mess is endemic to politics, and Europe is just a subset, but apart from that Europe is the continent that has the largest collection of constitutional democracies—by far.

The concept dates back to the city-states of Ancient Greece, with Athens at the forefront.

Democracies aren’t really the stuff of empires—the exception is perhaps England, which managed to sustain an empire throughout the reign of Queen Victoria—but the building of it was in more totalitarian times, and in any case women only got the vote after the First World War, and even then they had to be over thirty-five and own property.

A little like the pub sign that grants credit to the over eighty if accompanied by mom and dad.

So democracy—δῆμος and κράτος, or people power—went to sleep for two thousand years until the French revolution of 1789. The Athenian model only enfranchised about thirty percent of the population (women and slaves excluded) and in the early European democracies the same applied—In France women were only allowed to vote after 1944. So, overall, democracy, ma no troppo.

The first time any classical music pre-dating Bill Haley makes it onto these pages, but well deserved.

As pointed out by Churchill, democracy is an imperfect system—the worst but for all others—and yet it is wonderful how quickly it spread in Europe, despite entrenched opposition by the ruling classes.

European nations consolidated as a result of this, and the modern model of democracy is perhaps Europe’s greatest gift to the world—and it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The example set by countries that are governed through the will of the people is the envy of many nations across the world—during Salazar’s dictatorship it was said that Portugal was controlled (or perhaps distracted) by the 3 F’s: Fado, Football, and Fatima, but the world in general is anxious for another three F’s: Food, Freedom, and Fun.

A little atonement for all that Allegro stuff…

Democracies rarely start wars—it’s possible and it has happened, but mainly the engines of war are the fuckheads who believe they’re the chosen ones—the list is long, and right now Putin is at the head of it as the fuckhead du jour.

France prepares for the second-round presidential vote tomorrow and much of what is happening there is of great importance for the future of Europe, yet it looks as if a significant part of the population will either not vote or spoil their ballot.

The tragic tale of abstention—France reflects the pattern in most democracies, particularly well-established ones.

The French election has been described as a contest between the woman who killed her father and the man who married his mother, and has been further colored by the tale that the Le Pens fell out because father Le Pen’s dog killed Marine’s cat.

But this election is really an attempt to rally the French electorate into giving up on the European ideal, going back to the franc, imposing border controls, and generally following Britain out the door. Le Pen (fille) secured a Russian bank loan to fund her party back in 2014 and subsequently met Putin in Moscow—the Russian dictator was very engaged in any actions that can split Europe—having seen the solid EU response to the Ukraine invasion, it is easy to see why.

If there’s ever been a reason for the French to vote, the Ukrainian invasion is it—France must unequivocally demonstrate that it favors a united Europe, one which preserves national ideals yet leverages the whole, one that speaks with one voice against this disgraceful war.

Given that the highest abstention rate will be in the two youngest age groups, which are of course those that have the most to lose if democracy fails, all I can say is…

Allons enfants!

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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