Monday, April 30, 2012

France’s Far Right Radical Party, National Front and Leader Marine Le Pen to Sit Out Second Round of the Election

Possibly Dooming President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Re-Election

Whatever else on things about the French, it seems their system for electing a President is eminently sensible.  First of all the elections are held on a Sunday, maximizing the turnout.  This year in the first round of the Presidential election the turnout was a disappointing 80+%.  Disappointing in France of course, amazing if it were the U. S.

Also, the French have a two round election.  The first round let’s just about any party into the race, so minor parties do have a chance to participate and make their case.  The second round is a run-off between the two top vote getters in the first round.  This insures that the President is elected by an absolute majority instead of plurality, and provides credibility and legitimacy to the winner.

France has just completed its first round, with incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy finishing just behind Socialist Francois Hollande.  The two will meet in the second round, and key to Mr. Sarkozy’s chance is support from the far right National Front party.  That party is lead by Marine Le Pen, who in a way no one understands inherited the party leadership from her father Jean Marie Le Pen.  (When did party leadership become something one inherited?). 

LEPENUnfortunately for Mr. Sarkozy, Ms. Le Pen is indicating she wants her supporters to abstain the second round showing a ‘pox on both your houses’ attitude

“I think that Marine will probably advise voters to cast blank ballots,” Gilbert Collard, chairman of Ms. Le Pen’s support committee said Tuesday on local French radio station France Bleu Gard.

Here’s Ms. Le Pen own take: “I don’t want the victory or the defeat of anyone. I no longer have any confidence in the true enemy represented by Hollande and the false friend that Sarkozy represents,” she said in an interview with daily paper Nice Matin.

Ms. Le Pen may well be wanting to toss the election to the center/left candidate Mr. Hollande.  Her thinking, like some Republicans in this country may be that one can be far more successful running against the incumbent than having to support the incumbent.  If Mr. Hollande wins then Ms. Le Pen can campaign against him and his Socialist party in the June legislative elections.  If Mr. Sarkozy wins, she can do the same thing.  It is a very smart political strategy; it is very dangerous politics for a divided nation that needs a coherent policy to combat major economic problems.

The growth of far right parties in Europe should sound alarms in everyone.  While calling them Neo-Nazi is going too far, they are much closer to that designation than they are to main stream Conservative parties.  These anti-government, pro nationalist parties gain strength when economic conditions deteriorate, as history has taught everyone far too well.  And that is what is happening in Europe.

In several euro-zone countries, such as Austria, Finland and the Netherlands, far-right parties have been capturing popular discontent by promoting nationalist and sometimes xenophobic platforms.

The rise of far-right parties across Europe could disrupt efforts to resolve the debt crisis through greater economic and fiscal integration, not only because extreme movements are gaining momentum but also because mainstream parties may be forced to radicalize their platforms.

Ms. Le Pen is a particular problem, because she has taken steps to hide the more odious positions of her party and in doing so has become a more appealing leader.

She kept true to the party's nationalist theme, but, in an attempt to widen her electoral base, vowed to tone down the xenophobic legacy of her father.

"Our adversaries stamp us as extremists to try and discredit us," Ms. Le Pen said in an interview last year. "We have nothing of the extreme right, nothing: We are in favor of democracy, of a multiparty system, and we support the rule of law."

But no one should be fooled again by a vicious far right European political organization that tries to make itself legitimate by appearing rational and reasonable.  If they take control, or even develop substantial influence these parties will awaken the ugly nationalism that has made Europe a war zone since, well since humans entered the continent and settled there eons ago.

Been there, done that, and it was horrific.

1 comment:

  1. Austerity...starve the beast and really enrage it. The politics of the 21st,20th,19th,well, any century. Horrific.