The French Republic woke up this morning with quite a hangover, after the surprising result National Front candidate Marine Le Pen achieved in the first round of France’s 2012 Presidential Election.
Marine Le Pen indeed managed to receive nothing less than 17.9% of the votes, an absolute record for the extreme party. One after the other, French leaders Mitterrand, Chirac, Balladur, Jospin and Sarkozy, have helped the protest vote to increase at local and general elections, by not solving France’s real problems that have gradually fractured the country and its people. For over twenty years, Jean-Marie Le Pen was only a joke. A joke that however nearly surprised everyone on April 21, 2002, when he eliminated Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin, the favourite to win the election at the time, and found himself miraculously in the second round of the Presidential election up against Conservative president Jacques Chirac. April 21, 2002 was only just a first warning.
10 YEARS LATER…
10 years later, Jean-Marie Le Pen is no longer the National Front candidate. His daughter is. First, Marine Le Pen (whose real name is actually Marion Anne Perrine Le Pen) won a primary election, last year, against her father’s right hand in the party, Bruno Gollnisch, to replace her father and become the new President of the National Front. She, therefore, also became the party’s “natural candidate” for the 2012 Presidential Election. She then started giving a real facelift to the extreme party. The changes meant less provocation, less appearances of her father too (well known for his “gaffes” about the Holocaust for example) at the party’s rallies, no more skinheads or neo-Nazis connections with the party, etc. In a nutshell, Marine Le Pen has redesigned her party to make it “cleaner” and more respectable, to give the impression it has now become a right wing party like the others. Yet, scratch the surface and it is still deeply racist and xenophobic.
After the Presidential election, the National Front is meant to change its name. This is actually designed to give the legitimacy and respectability the party needs to more likely attract the lost sheep – voters of both left and right, who feel betrayed by President Sarkozy and his long forgotten promises. The chairmanship of “Marine” (also notice that Mrs Le Pen is less and less using her surname, another idea designed to make people forget about the father and only talk about the daughter) is indeed full of surprises!
Both the Left and the Right are guilty of one thing in France: they have made Marine Le Pen and the National Front new generation possible. They have created a monster! And Marine Le Pen’s result on Sunday’s election is the second warning. This is now a 17.9% monster! This is a monster which it will be extremely difficult to get rid of, for the young Marine Le Pen (43) is now here to stay!
On May 6, Sarkozy will lose. The Left will win. But Hollande’s electorate should beware of the difficult awakening, because the new Socialist president will not be able to do even half of what he has promised his voters. Not only because promises always remain during a term what they were during a campaign, that is promises, but also because, contrary to the claims made by the Socialist candidate that he will be in a strong position to bend the market and dictate to the market what he wants, he simply won’t! Every politician knows and every economist would confirm that, these days, governments mostly depend on market decisions, not the opposite. The president of a country is today nothing less than the equivalent of a Captain on board a large ship in the middle of the ocean (hopefully not the Costa Concordia kind of Captain! Sic.). As the ship navigates on that ocean, it might, at some point, meet with huge and dangerous waves, but there’s nothing the captain can say or do to change the waves and their intensity. The only thing he can possibly do is try to avoid the waves, and if not possible, at least avoid the wreck of the ship.
Headlines of Le Monde - April 24, 2012. "Le Pen's shadow over the second round"