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There Is No Guarantee the Rassemblement National Will Rule

by John Jefferson
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In view of the wild statements by some American journalists about the first round of the French elections last week, it behooves me to offer a few corrections about those contests and what they produced. 

The single most misleading interpretation of the outcome that I’ve encountered (there may be worse ones I haven’t seen) came in a far-from-objective story in the New York Post. A staff reporter, Steve Janoski, summed up the elections this way: “A right-wing party could seize power in France for the first time since the Nazis occupied the country in World War Two—with Marine LePen’s national Rally making huge gains in the first round of a high-stakes snap election.”

Except for the facts that the Rassemblement National took 29.5 percent of the votes cast last Sunday and that if we include friendly members of Éric Ciotti’s Les Républicains, Marine Le Pen and her coalition are up to 33.5 percent, there is nothing in Janoski’s account that need be taken seriously. There is absolutely no ideological or historical connection between the RN or Éric Zemmour’s further right La Reconquête and the Vichy regime, which took power after Nazi Germany’s victory over France in June 1940 with the support of the victors. The collaborationist Vichy government passed antisemitic laws (although it did refuse to surrender indigenous French Jews to the Nazis). Not at all incidentally, the head of Reconquête is a Moroccan Jew, and many mostly Sephardic Jews vote for his party and that of Le Pen.

By far the issue for the French right is Muslim immigration into France. Undisguised opposition to the liberal immigration policies of the French left and the globalists in Macron’s party is what drives the present French right. Moreover, in their call for immigration restriction, the French right can find ample support in the views of emphatically nonfascist national leaders of the past. Historical figures like De Gaulle and Georges Marchais, head of the French Communist Party in the 1980s, warned against the immigration policies that were even then becoming popular with French corporations and the multicultural left.

The parties of the French right are not about to deport all Muslims, as their critics insist. Rather they call for assimilation into a once established French civic culture for those Muslims who are already in their country. Unfortunately, the culture and patriotism that the RN invokes may be in diminishing supply in a country that has been strongly influenced by late modern fashions and values. This right, however, which is thoroughly Gaullist, should not be confused with an older French right, which called for a return to monarchical institutions. The RN clearly does not take that position.

Marine Le Pen’s party has done well in France’s northeast and southeast and along the Mediterranean coast, all of which areas have been affected by Muslim immigration and the attendant crime problem or have suffered under the European Union’s pricing and production arrangements. Farmers and factory workers have been reacting to this complex of grievances for decades. Further, like American populists, their French counterparts come largely from those without college educations. What is rarely asked by those who mock these voters is whether their lack of academic exposure indicates mental crudeness or the absence of leftist indoctrination. 

Contrary to reports that the French right had crushed Macron’s party, I see no evidence of this development. Although Macron’s Renaissance Party picked up only 20.04 percent of the vote in the first round of the elections, it can definitely make an alliance with the motley leftist coalition in Nouveau Front Populaire, which gained 27.99 percent of the vote. The two sides may not agree entirely on economic policy (Macron speaks for the globalist capitalist class, while the Popular Front includes old-line communists and socialists), but they are indistinguishable on woke cultural issues and equally open to further Muslim immigration.

Typically, a lot of horse trading (tripotage) occurs during the second round of French elections, in which those candidates who are unlikely to exceed the 50 percent threshold, withdraw in favor of potential allies. These withdrawals (désistements) are usually carried out among ideologically similar parties, which in the current European political culture means cutting the “far right” out of interparty deliberations. 

Those parties that coalesce and cooperate with each other in Western Europe are committed to the same feminist, LGBT agendas and generally permissive immigration policies. They almost always support the liberal interventionist foreign policy pushed by American neoconservatives and neoliberals, unlike the “extreme right,” which is more flexible in this regard. Unless I’m mistaken, the neoconservative New York Post may be bothered by Le Pen’s statements suggesting her willingness to negotiate with Putin and her reluctance to follow the dominant American party line in foreign affairs. 

Finally, there is no way that the French right, as opposed to the faux conservatives in Macron’s party, can take power given the likely outcome of the second round of elections this month. Macron’s voters who are concerned with their social reputations may wish to keep their distance from a right that’s beaten up in the international press. Most of these voters, which includes the vast civil service, would be determined to keep the French right out of a ruling coalition. They would be far less concerned about the wokesters and revolutionaries or the disproportionately large Muslim voting base of the NFP than having contact with the Untouchables on the right. Given this situation, there is no certainty that the RN will come to power.

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