The Fight Against the French Radical Right

By Ray Rivers

July 10th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Sunday’s turnout voting for the French National Assembly was the largest in over 40 years.   The polls had predicted that rightwing party leader Marine Le Pen would win the most seats and thereby appoint her choice of prime minister for the republic.  Though France also has a president he, Macron, would have been forced to bend policies to suit Le Pen.

And that would have been only the second time in history that France’s government had been largely run by a right wing Nazi party.  Following France’s surrender, from 1940 to ’44, Adolf Hitler installed a traitorous anti-semitic former French general to govern the one third of France (the Vichy Regime) which Germany chose not to.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen’s father, a Holocaust denier, along with a former German SS officer started what was to become the National Rally (NR) in 1972.  Le Pen, like America’s Trump and Hungary’s Orban, are admirers  of Russian leader Putin.   In Le Pen’s, she had also been bankrolled by a Russian bank.  And her policies, were she to win, would be in sync with those of the Russian dictator:  anti-environment, anti-immigration, anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic, anti-NATO, anti-European Union and anti-Ukraine.

French president Macron called for National Assembly elections after Le Pen’s party made surprising but significant gains in elections to the European Union parliament.  It was a risky proposition but it kind of paid off.  She cleaned up in the first round of voting.  Then, despite the polls and pundits, Le Pen fell to third place in the second round.

It was a mixed blessing for Macron, whose centrist party also dropped to second, leaving the leftists, which had formed a coalition, with the largest number of seats in the Assembly.  Macron will have to compromises with the left wing parties, some very opposed to his policies, in order to govern the country.

Adopting a page from Mr. Trump’s playbook, Le Pen immediately blamed her failures on an unfair election.   Russian disinformation, no doubt, also played a crucial role in Le Pen’s initial success.  Over 4400 Russian disinformation bot posts had been distributed across France and Germany since mid-November, according to ‘antibot4navalny’, a Russian media research collective.

Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron

France was only the second nation in Europe to buck the trend toward the seemingly growing popularity of right wing politics.  Only a week earlier, British voters rebuked the governing Tories, virtually sweeping them into political oblivion for the time being.  Albeit, as happens in their first-past-the-post system, they did this with only about a third of the popular vote.

There was a huge sigh of relief in most European capitals following the results of both of these elections.  One wonders whether Americans will rally against poll-leading former president Trump, a convicted felon and pathological liar.  That too will depend on whether democrats can convince the stubborn-minded Biden to swallow his ego and let someone else lead them into the election.

There are a few take-aways from what happened in France – a society among the most influential in our history of democracy.  First, the polls cannot be trusted to reliably predict a political outcome.  Even on the eve of the elections the pollsters got it wrong.

Second, when push comes to shove liberal democratic values still outweigh the alternatives in our free societies.  Negative politics and disinformation may confuse some of the people some of the time, as it did with the Brexit vote in the UK.  But change for the sake of change is not always the best option.

Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh: Canada already has a de facto coalition government

Third, Le Pen was defeated because the splintered left wing opposition parties combined forces to win the bigger prize.  Canada already has a de facto coalition government with progressive policies in place.  But continuation of those policies is at risk once that Liberal-NDP compact expires in time for the next federal election.   First-past-the-post works best with a two party system.  The Conservatives understood that when they united their left and right wings.

As an interesting side bar, our modern concept of left and right winged politics has its roots in French politics.  Following the French Revolution the social and conservative radicals sat respectively on the left and right in the French National Assembly.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor, writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Russian Disinformation –  

Le Pen –    Ukraine Support

 

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2 comments to The Fight Against the French Radical Right

  • Joe Gaetan

    The NDP gained an inordinate amount of power with their deal, and had and still have their finger on the kill switch. Why would they want to join forces with the Liberals?

  • Ted Gamble

    So you believe Macron should bend to full on communists rather than seeking a broader coalition with conservative elements of the French population? Good luck.

    And how do Le Pen’s Nazi ancestors compare to Freeland’s and the travesty the Liberal government recently brought into our House of Commons.

    Macron in his desperate attempt to cling to power has thrown France into the abyss. This is what my European colleagues suggest to me and that this will be his legacy.

    I see once again you are making your expected parallels to Canada and the US.

    If Trudeau dares again to face the electorate will he succeed with yet another leftist coalition that sends Canada down the abyss or will Macron & Trudeau both be relegated to the trash heap and go down as the historically as the most disliked, distrusted leaders of their respective countries?

    I strongly suspect the latter.

    Stick to domestic issues Ray. Even the broadly respected Marc Garneau is telling Canadians that out current leader has seriously damaged international Canada’s reputation.

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