On s’en Fout ! We’re Voting Marine le Pen…
Indeed so disenchanted is the electorate that key municipal elections in France next March may see striking successes for the far-right Front National party. All it needs is for unemployment to remain doggedly high, ruling Socialist popularity stubbornly low and French exasperation to ignite.
The elections may even give birth to a new political grouping based on the countrywide movement that coalesced around Manif Pour Tous, Civitas and Le Printemps Français. This ad-hoc coalition opposed to mariage pour tous, mobilised hundreds of thousands, young and old, over more than seven months of unprecedented protest climaxing on May 26 — Mother’s Day — against a Socialist measure to legalise homosexual marriage. Conservative Catholics deeply offended by mariage pour tous, have gained fresh momentum which could see anger transformed into a new grass roots party, some analysts suggest.
Gaël Brustier, a researcher in political science warned recently: “the right is mutating. At the demonstrations against mariage pour tous (marriage for all), a broad cultural offensive emerged, a new generation of political cadres has begun to surface, a growing fusion of electorates was confirmed and a potential tipping point is in sight. The vast movement we saw against mariage pour tous is born of ‘moral panic.’ This moral panic has set in motion the re-composition of the right – a Tea Party à la française. A fusion of different constituencies involving right and far-right is underway. The cultural and political affinity being forged is likely to lead to an electoral bloc.”
(See Sidebar below for more details on this issue which seriously split the country).
Writing in the latest issue of Marianne, a left-of-centre magazine, Nicolas Domenach says: “gone is the shame that once surrounded a vote for the xenophobic far-right, the time where people once hid the fact that they had voted for the extreme right. Now the electorate seems happy to shout their support, even jubilantly braying it from the rooftops as they give the finger to the established political parties”.
For along with much of the rest of the European Union, France is in deep social and economic crisis due to an ongoing sovereign debt crisis provoked by criminal bankers and subsequently imposed austerity measures flowing directly from the fact that the political elites have been captured by rogue financiers.
… the hundreds of millions of forgotten victims of the financial war currently being waged by U.K., U.S. and key client-nation banks — banks such as Deutsche Bank, Credit Agricole and Societé Generale — against the global poor and middle classes… (Don Quijones, on Testosteronepit.com)
Despite promises to reverse a vicious spiral of joblessness within a year of election, there has been little economic progress under President Hollande – unemployment rose above an historic high of 3 million in the second quarter and state finances remain out of control. As Charles Gave of Gavekal.com, a French investment advisory service noted in April : “France is engulfed by a political, economic and moral paralysis. The president has record low popularity, unemployment is making new highs and … it is my contention that France is about to enter what was known during the gold standard era as a ‘secondary depression’… having reached the logical limits of its decades long experiment in state-run welfare-capitalism France is far more exposed than even its struggling neighbours”.
Based on his own assessment of voter sentiment Domenach reports the electorate is “sick of insecurity, immigrants, taxes, corrupt and impotent unemployment policies. They are exasperated by Islamists and notice that only the Front National is consistent and firm about denouncing them. As a result the voters are planning to show their anger with a significant swing to the FN in the local elections”. These take place in two stages early March 2014 when representatives of the 36, 000 communes – the power base of French politics, are up for election.
Domenach continues: “For many voters Marine le Pen has gone to their heads … while those committed to fighting this prospective voting shift admit their fears are being confirmed. Pollster and a Socialist Party candidate François Kalfon says: ‘The use of moral arguments against the FN is pointless. I see it everywhere. On the doorsteps people tell me, for me, it’s Marine and they say this very calmly, sometimes brashly, but they are always perfectly open and up front about it, something they never were before. Doors once firmly closed are now wide open and spitting out the truth, the vote for Le Pen is décomplexé, (uninhibited) wherever I canvass. And, he adds, they never or hardly ever talk to me about the UMP!’ “
Meanwhile Atlantico magazine reports “The Front National Youth wing (FNJ ) now says it has 10,000 members aged between 16 and 30 years. Marine Le Pen’s election platform draws a certain type of youth : young people entering the labour market at a time of crisis who are worried about their future and sociologically are very close to the traditional electoral abstainer. Uncomfortable with globalisation, these young people are generally from working classes, have low qualifications and speak no foreign languages. They are suspicious about traditional parties of government, and the alternative and radical positions of the FN are attractive. Marine Le Pen is the opposite of her father. She portrays a certain modernity that speaks to youth. Twice divorced, a lawyer, “gay friendly”, she lives in a blended family and has a reputation as a “party girl”. She is the model of a modern woman, whose open views attract young people.”
Domeanch’s piece goes on to warn of a political earthquake ahead. In medium-sized cities according to Jean-Daniel Lévy, of Harris Interactive polling firm: “all the polling, public or private, confirms the continued growth of this choice to the point that completely unknown candidates are achieving better scores than Hollande when he was a candidate in the last election. This trend should enable these candidates (FN) to sustain their current weighting in the polls. The municipal elections in 2014 could thus be a winner for the FN, even where the party presently has no strong local presence. The current situation is an opportunity for the FN to build a pool of municipal councillors. It will be putting forward young, bright and ambitious candidates, often the sons and daughters of rightwing notables and it is thus assured of a role’.
“According to electoral expert Xavier Chinaud, ‘not only is the FN well placed to win some medium-sized cities especially in the Vaucluse department, but it will make gains across almost all of France. They will be in a position in the election to play their card of causing major upsets both against the left where they are in power, and against the right. Worse. For the UMP, which hopes to make significant gains in Socialist-run cities such as Toulouse or Strasbourg, the FN vote will likely rob them of victory.
“As noted by both Socialist Party national secretary François Kalfon and Thierry Mandon, spokesman for the Socialist parliamentary group, ‘the Socialist’s electoral base is exploding, voters and militants feel abandoned, workers are being mercilessly clubbed by taxes, pensioners feel under threat. Abstention is likely to hit an historical high. A widespread defeat in March would likely be followed by another defeat in the European elections that follow”.
So are establishment parties of the left and right to resign themselves to electoral slaughter? That must be the question on many politicians’ lips as they head back to work.
Story: Ken Pottinger
SIDEBAR: Mariage pour tous – Marriage for all
President Hollande’s election manifesto included a pledge to legalise homosexual marriage, placing them on the same footing as heterosexuals. He got the legislation through in May but it sparked some of the biggest demonstrations and loudest protests the country has seen in years.
Here is a brief commentary taken from a TV interview:
Tugdual Derville one of the spokesmen for the Manif Pour Tous movement is a father of six. Derville says he is an activist for family values and against abortion and euthanasia. He also opposes same-sex marriage on the grounds that a child must be have the opportunity to have both a mother and a father. He told the French TV station France Info: “This demonstration is the last of this cycle; there will be other demonstrations in the years to come to defend the child, to protect the family. (…) The demonstration was historic in terms of its size. Why were there so many people? Because in my view while the law was passed democratically it deeply offends democracy because it does not respect the child who is the most fragile member of society. (…) From the outset of this plan, our views were been trampled on, silenced, scorned. Our anger is expressed through non-violence. The government has made a grave political error by refusing to listen to us. We have now entered a form of inner resistance. (…) We have always said any elected officials from the right or the left are welcome in our movement, but we reject any political exploitation. No political party is capable of bringing such huge crowds out. Our movement is unprecedented. (…) The tens of thousands of young people who mobilized are going to build a new altruistic society; it is the soul of France that is waking up (…) We were not understood because we are not fighting for our own interests, but for an altruism that must build a society that respects the weakest and the most fragile.” Watch the video below:
“Aucun parti politique n’est capable de… par FranceInfo
The demonstration, as he notes in the interview, took place after the law had been passed but which despite that still attracted a million people “who want the future generation to have the right for each child to be born from the womb of a woman and not from a man.”
Here is a speeded up time lapse video of some of those who participated in the May 26th demonstration:
It shows the group that gathered at the Gare d’Austerlitz and proceeded along the Esplanade des Invalides to the final destination. The video was filmed between 2:15 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. approximately, and is speeded up 30x.
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