Arthur Goldhammer

Arthur Goldhammer is a writer, translator, and Affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard. He blogs at French Politics. Follow him on Twitter: @artgoldhammer.

Recent Articles

Will Marine Le Pen Become France’s Next President?

Next spring’s French presidential contest is shaping up as a battle between the right and the far right. Will a majority coalesce around the right-wing candidate to keep the far right out of power as in 2002? Will a viable challenger emerge on the left? Don’t bet on it. The world has changed, and so has the Front National.

AP Photo/Christophe Ena
AP Photo/Christophe Ena French far-right leader Marine le Pen makes a statement on the presidential election in the United States on November 9, 2016, in Nanterre, outside Paris. Y esterday, François Fillon won the primary of the French Republican Party (Les Républicains, known as LR). As I predicted last week, Fillon handily eliminated his lone remaining rival, Alain Juppé, by a margin of 2-1. How does this stunning victory affect the handicapping of next spring’s presidential election? The short—and perhaps surprising—answer is that it makes the election of the Front National’s Marine Le Pen more likely. I will explain why in a moment. But first a word about Fillon. He served as France’s prime minister throughout all five years of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency. The two men could hardly be more different in style. Brash, flashy, and in-your-face, Sarkozy wears a watch worth tens of thousands of dollars, a gift from his supermodel wife (the third of a trio). He cusses out hecklers and...

In France, Another Stunning Election Upset

Former Prime Minister François Fillon crushes the opposition in the first round of the primary for the presidential nomination of the center-right Republican primary. The winner of the runoff could well become France’s next president—if he can beat Marine Le Pen.

Bernard BISSON/JDD/SIPA/1505311317 (Sipa via AP Images)
Bernard BISSON/JDD/SIPA/1505311317 (Sipa via AP Images) Former Prime Minister François Fillon. A fter the major earthquake of Brexit, 6.5 on the Richter scale, and the megaquake of Trump, at least 7.5, the results of yesterday’s “primary of the right and center” in France have to count as a minor aftershock. Yet even this small tremor is potentially an ominous sign that the tectonic plates of politics in the major Western democracies are still shifting about unpredictably, with major changes in the landscape still to come. What happened yesterday is this: François Fillon, who served as prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012, defeated his former boss along with five other candidates in the first round of the primary to choose the candidate of the center-right Republican party. The upset was stunning, because for most of the campaign, polls had shown Fillon running fourth in the field behind favorite Alain Juppé, also a former prime minister (under Jacques Chirac),...

The Evil Demons of Our Nature

From Lincoln to Trump: Are we witnessing an irrevocable change in the American soul or a temporary warp in the “arc of the moral universe,” which will someday again “bend toward justice”?

AP Photo/John Bazemore
AP Photo/John Bazemore Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Bentonville, Arkansas. H ow often since Lincoln uttered the phrase in his First Inaugural Address have politicians exhorted us to heed “the better angels of our nature”? Rote repetition has drained the words of their original intent, which was to remind Americans that the national soul, far from being unalloyed, is rather an inextricable compound of good and evil. We have our better angels, but we also have our evil demons, which many who ritually invoke Lincoln’s message would rather forget. Sometimes the demons win out, as they did in 1861, even as Lincoln tried to calm his “dissatisfied fellow-countrymen.” The new president knew that malign spirits were on the verge of carrying the day. The “momentous issue of civil war,” he warned, was not in his hands but in the hands of those who bitterly opposed him. Passion had “strained … the bonds of affection” that bound the country together, but he still hoped a final break might...

It Has Happened Here

Now that the unthinkable has arrived, what is to be done?

(Photo: AP/Ted S. Warren)
(Photo: AP/Ted S. Warren) A man sits on the curb during a protest against Donald Trump early on Wednesday, November 9, in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. F irst of all, I blame myself. Despite my pessimism about the deepening and seemingly insurmountable economic and cultural divide, I could never quite bring myself to believe that America would elect Donald Trump. His flaws seemed to me so obvious, so monstrous, that no one could fail to see them. Like so many others, I dismissed him at first as comic relief, a “Trump-l’oeil,” smugly pleased with the cleverness of my play on words and insensitive to the cri du coeur that his challenge to elitists like me represented. The Huffington Post initially relegated coverage of his campaign to the entertainment section. When my own son warned me in these pages that I was too complacent in thinking that the center would inevitably hold, I brushed the criticism aside. Competence—Hillary Clinton’s competence, the competence of the...

The Triumph of the Will

Willful, petulant, impatient: democracy turns adolescent.

AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, October 22, 2016, in Cleveland. F or years Republican politicians told us that the People resent government. The voters’ fondest desire, they said, was to loosen the state’s grip on private pocketbooks. Right-wing representatives therefore voted to choke off the flow of revenue in order to starve the beast, curtail state power, and strip away burdensome regulations, thus emancipating the creative genius of the individual. Then came the candidacy of Donald Trump, and suddenly the state was rehabilitated. It would build a wall to shut out immigrants. It would outsmart wily enemies and with sheer business acumen claw back foolish concessions from trading partners. Growth would soon come roaring back, reversing a decade of stagnation. Hostile elements abroad would be dispatched forthwith, yet at the same time the country would somehow be delivered from unwanted foreign entanglements...