Global Independent Analytics

Front National wins opening round in France's regional elections

Right-wing leader promises to fall on Islam, wins the regional elections

The Guardian’s Angelique Chrisafis summarizes the results of recent France’s regional elections. She reports: right wing Marine Le Pen’s party scored the highest 27-30% of national vote.

The latest extremist attacks in Paris have effectively triggered people’s intentions to vote and it provided unprecedented boost for far-right Front National. The party’s anti-European and anti-immigration stances have helped it reach top positions in half of France’s regions and if it continues the same way, it could very well remodel political landscape of France.

Front National is the only political party which managed to benefit from the deadly attacks in Paris three weeks ago by pushing its radical positions on Islam, security and national identity. Chrisafis synopsizes: “with 95% of ballots counted, the far-right party topped the poll nationwide with 28.6% of the vote, compared to only 11% in the last regional elections in 2010. The FN also came top in six out of 13 mainland French regions – a historic moment for the far right which has never before held the leadership of a French region.”

The leader of the party, Marine Le Pen, earned highest score of 40% from voters in the poorest region in France with population of six million, Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie. The party also topped the poll in regions from Alsace to Burgundy, as well as several centre and south regions. She proudly announced that the votes would be taken with humility, responsibility and gratitude.

Le Pen has been focusing on the northern area which had suffered from the closure of heavy industry that resulted in high unemployment and poverty rates. Her key votes came from Calais area where the controversy over migrants’ crisis has been stirred. Her niece, who also is a parliament member and won above 40% in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, promised the end of the existing system if the situation continues unraveling this way.

Maréchal-Le Pen announced that in her opinion Muslims could not assimilate enough to become French unless they relinquish fully the French way of life and thoughts, adopted from Christianity. In her opinion, “To merit French nationality, you have to speak French, eat French and live French.”  She owns a strong socially conservative stance and pledged to close family planning centers in order to prevent abortions from becoming normal.

Other right-wing parties did not manage to score similar numbers: Sarkozy’s Les Républicains came second and Hollande’s Socialist party came third even though his popularity has been rising since the Paris attacks.

The final vote will be performed on December 13 and the outcome will highly depend on how other parties are determined to stop the far-right thinkers. Socialist party’s archivist called the Front National “racist and anti-Semitic” and predicted a national “drama” would happen in case the party gains any more votes. As it was disclosed, the Socialists plan to stop Le Pens from winning by pushing the two key regions in the south and the north and by backing Sarkozy’s party. However, Sarkozy announced that he would not form any alliance to overturn the elections.

The record vote for the Front National clearly demonstrates political mood in France: the nation is likely to acquire far-right conception implemented by Marine Le Pen, whose aim is to reach top power positions nationwide. In 2017 she hopes to get presidential nomination and to knock out a mainstream candidate with the help of her radical attitude.

Although with Marine’s assistance the party disposed of bias and stereotypical views on racism and anti-Semitism, its stances on Islam and immigration remain unchanged and it helped the party take advantage of Paris attacks. The party leaders push the immigration agenda, basing on the fact that at least two of the Paris attackers have entered Europe posing as asylum seekers.

The latest elections have been held under emergency state first time in French history. After decades of Socialist domination the progressive right-wing politics might finally be implemented with very high chances of remodeling the political landscape.

 

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

Le Pen’s Front National is a genuine expression of many French people who seek to protect their identity and economy. The US is a melting-pot where people had to change their names to adapt fully in the past, so what is that unusual about France today asking the same? Furthermore, Le Pen opposes the war on Syria and seeks a rational relationship with Russia. This makes her far more progressive or at the very least genuinely anti-imperialist than Hollande’s so-called Socialist Party. Le Pen calls for nationalization of banks, a point left unaddressed by the “Socialists.” In fact, in today’s world, the mainstream left is not a left at all and the mainstream right is not truly patriotic. Therefore one should encourage voices of courage and reason from the non-traditional parties to challenge the status-quo. There is no great monster in the room than the NATO/EU/USA Behemoth. One would hope that the French people will not be threatened or intimidated by the demonization campaign carried out against Front National by the corporate liberal media but will only increase their support in the second round.
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