Today’s French presidential election is one of the most significant elections in recent memory. It contains two candidates who represent two diametrically opposed views for the future of France: Emmanuel Macron of the centrist En Marche! and Marine Le Pen of the right-wing Le Front National. Le Pen is the clear underdog, and she is behind in the polls by over ten points. In sum, the outcome looks like a foregone conclusion, but due to the polls being so horribly wrong in predicting both Brexit and Trump, we cannot rule her victory out.
Marine Le Pen is an extremely contentious and divisive figure in global politics; especially as the Le Pen family has connotations with Nazism as her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen denied the extent of the genocide in the Holocaust. Many of Le Pen’s policies are indefensible, but there is one that appeals: her opposition to the European Union. The European Union has been in existence for six decades and is in need of significant reform to solve its undemocratic characteristics. France has been on the receiving end of its undemocratic ways; it was forced to accept a redrafted version of the Constitutional Treaty in the form of the Lisbon Treaty when the country in 2005 rejected the Constitutional Treaty. The European Union imposes its policies by diktat, which is an insult to democracy.
One of the reasons the EU was established was to provide solutions to international problems that no one country alone could solve. It hasn’t even managed to do that. The recent mismanagement of the Refugee Crisis where there was no clear leadership illustrates that the EU is not fit for purpose. Merkel advocated an open border policy which was a calamitous decision that has led to a deterioration in social tensions in Germany; whereas Hungary held an illegitimate referendum which rejected the EU’s migration quotas, thus stalling the policy making process. For the EU to work it needs an overarching objective, a goal, not 27 different ones. When there is no common goal, nothing can be achieved.
If France remained in the EU, it would continue to be dominated by Germany. Germany will continue to remain in control and be the leading voice on all EU affairs. Germany would continue to dictate economic policy and a Macron-led France would allow continuous German domination. Ultimately, for the EU to collapse – which it ought to – France must leave, and only Le Pen can make that happen.
France is an undoubtedly a proud nation, and that pride has reduced due to the increase in terrorism, where France has been wrongly targeted. France is experiencing social dislocation, where the French community and non-French community are not integrating. This has been profoundly accentuated by the relentless onslaught of terrorism over the past 18 months; as a result, there has been a massive increase in Islamophobia within France. Unfortunately, like in 1968, France is once again a divided nation. Liberté, égalité, fraternité will only be restored under a Le Pen France, as opposed to a Macron presidency where there would be (unwanted) continuity.
Gloabalsation – although bringing a multitude of benefits to the country – has begun to remove significant parts of French culture. What was once known as La France Profonde – a deep sense of nation towards the mother country which was felt in the provincial towns – has begun to be lost. This is partially due to the rapid changes that Globalisation has brought upon the country, and they have happened so quickly that the country has not had time to prepare or react. Therefore, to stop France losing its sense of Frenchness, its sense of patriotism, Le Pen must be elected to put a stop on the globalised forces which are causing integral parts of French culture to be lost forever.
Le Pen would be the best opportunity for France to regain its economic vitality by protecting the French economy through tariffs. Le Pen would also adopt a tough stance on corporations which has been exemplified by her reportedly threatening a 35% on Whirlpool imports; proposed after it was announced that a Whirlpool factory would be moved from France to Poland. Also, she wants to take France out of the euro which will increase the competitiveness of French industry, as exports will be cheaper. Overall, this would help solve France’s chronic unemployment issue.
Although it is unlikely that Marine Le Pen will this time, If she manages to gain around 40% of the popular vote, which is the proportion expected, it would be far from a disaster. Unless Macron pacifies the anti-establishment and Eurosceptic sentiments that have taken over french politics, then the anti-politics sentiment will rise again. Le Pen will have a better chance of victory in 2022, when Mcron fails to address the pressing concerns already apprent in France.
These are the views of the author, and in no way reflect the views of The Sphinx.