The recall victory of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is sending shockwaves through Europe as right-wing and left-wing newspapers marvel at the Republican's ability to survive an election months after stripping the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions. In European countries, where a much larger percentage of the labor force is unionized, politicians typically face insurmountable opposition from labor groups during wage and work-hour disputes. Today, some of the continent's biggest papers are doing a double-take at headlines from over here.
"Wisconsin is not France," reads the headline of Pierre-Yves Dugua's article in Le Figaro, France's conservative broadsheet. (All translations are slight modifications of what Google Translate produced.) "Scott Walker's admirers speak of courage worthy of Margaret Thatcher. His critics talk about unprecedented reactionary duplicity. What is certain is that [neither] Nicolas Sarkozy, Jacques Chirac, or even Le Pen would have dared do what Scott Walker has succeeded."
Meanwhile, French socialist newspaper L'Humanité lamented the symbolism of the Walker victory as a validation of "Republican Party and Tea Parties in their strategy of 'radicalization' and 'rightward' or even 'extreme rightward'" policies. The liberal newspaper Le Monde said the recall couldn't be dismissed as a local issue. "For France, the election may appear as an epiphenomenon: it concerns a single State and involves local politicians. It is not the case," said the paper, noting the election is a direct read on the "political temperature" in the country.