Thursday, December 08, 2016

Because It's France, That's Why: Populist Marine Le Pen Not Likely to Benefit from Brexit and the Trump Election

In France, the protest vote is less attractive now that the Americans and Brits have already pulled the trigger
write Jacques Lafitte and Denis MacShane in Politico (merci à HC).
The British and American press are full of alarm and excitement. After the triumph of the nationalist populism that swept Donald Trump into the White House and Britain out of Europe, the next big win in this new political era will be National Front leader Marine Le Pen’s election as France’s next president.

Two years ago we were accused of excessive pessimism and scaremongering because we said and wrote that Brexit would happen. Now we will no doubt be called naïve, wishful thinkers for saying the French won’t elect Le Pen.

The French love to do things differently. And more than anything, they hate to be told they will copy someone else, especially if that someone happens to be “Anglo-Saxon.”

In the early 1980s, when the United States and the U.K. embraced radical liberalism, the French embraced radical socialism. Today, France exports Thomas Piketty but remains immune to political input from across the Channel or Atlantic. Le Pen likes to claim she is the real brains behind Brexit and Trump. The suggestion that ideas may flow the other way would be preposterous.

The French Left turned the Third Way — a hollow slogan from the Blair-Clinton era — into an obscenity, in large part because it was coined outside France. Even François Mitterand’s open-minded prime minister Michel Rocard never referred to it.

Le Pen basked in the media spotlight after the Brits voted to leave the EU on June 23, but polls show she has not benefited from Brexit, not even in the short term. She is still stuck at 25-30 percent support, a remarkably similar level to the French Communist Party in the 1950s and 1960s.

At the time, French communists wanted to shut the borders to foreign workers, attacked European integration as an American capitalist front, and called for the French state to take charge of the French economy. Sound familiar? Le Pen’s National Front agenda is eerily similar. 
Related: Is the Le Pen Party Extreme Rightist or
Is It Actually a Reincarnation of the Communist Party?