The election of a new European Parliament takes place this weekend. These elections traditionally are unsatisfactory because of the lack of a true and informed European electorate. This year they may provide an unprecedented shock. In France — the country mainly responsible for the European Union's creation — a poll published May 20 says fewer than 40 percent of France's citizens think the EU "a good thing," 54 percent think the euro's more trouble than it's worth, and less than half even plan to vote. Of those voting, 24 percent say they will vote for the right-wing Front National, more than for any other party.

That predicted result for the FN bears out that Europeans everywhere tend to vote in the European elections chiefly for their local significance.

In France, where I write this, press and public inevitably will search the outcome of the vote for what it tells the national audience about national issues. The result is expected to be another blow to Socialist candidates and representatives of the smaller left-wing parties, and therefore a hostile message to France's Socialist rulers.