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Le Pen Is Mightier Than Before

Imagine a world in which President Obama, Mitt Romney and Pat Buchanan were all running in the presidential election and Buchanan was polling just one or two percentage points behind the other contenders. Is this likely to happen in America? No. But it is happening right now in France. An article in the NYT indicates that in a recent poll, Marine Le Pen, “the expected candidate of the far right, trailed President Nicolas Sarkozy by only the slimmest margins.”

In the midst of the sovereign debt crisis, Le Pen’s message is resonating, especially the parts about gradually leaving the euro and protecting French corporations from foreign competition.  There are a lot of people in France today who think the sleek Gallic establishment of top university grads is intellectually bankrupt and morally rotten.  A vote for Le Pen is a way, as George Wallace used to say, to send “them” a message.

Worrying about a Le Pen surge, however, is easy to overdo.  Both the French and the American journalistic establishments have spent decades wringing their hands over the fearsome potential that the French voters will finally go nuts and vote a Le Pen into the French equivalent of the White House.

Via Meadia‘s advice: sit down, breathe deeply, and drink a glass of water. The French electoral system pretty much makes this impossible; if no candidate gets a majority in the first round, there is a second run-off election between the top two.  Even if Madame Le Pen made it into round two, the very large anti-Le Pen majority would unite to deny her a victory — just as they did when her father made it into round two back in 2002.

Over time, she could grow into a more formidable force than her father ever did, but that time is not yet.

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  • Noah172

    I saw some polls showing that Le Pen’s support in a hypothetical second round would be in the high 20’s against Hollande, the leading Socialist, and in the high 20’s or even high 30’s against Sarkozy. Granted, the polls that I saw are from last summer. Interesting, though, that she appeared stronger against the center-right Sarkozy than the center-left Hollande.

    Her father polled 17 or 18 percent in the second round in 2002. Can the daughter improve on that by fifty to 100 percent. Ah, the wages of Euro multiculti and utopianism.

  • Ulysses S. Rant

    What makes Le Pen’s movement even more interesting is the fact that it’s not at all isolated. Parties similar to hers are sprouting up all over Europe. And as the EU crisis intensifies, those parties will grow stronger, for better or for worse.

  • WigWag

    While Marine Le Pen would probably ultimately lose if she made it to the second round, a loss is far from certain especially in the event she is facing the socialist. It is almost certain that the polls are understating Le Pen’s strength in the first round as well as a hypothetical second round that includes her.

    Some voters inclined to support Le Pen are almost certainly too embarrassed to admit it.

    If the poll numbers in the Netherlands for Geert Wilders party are any indication, Le Pen could do 5-10 percent better than she is polling. If the success of the “True Finns” Party in Finland is any indication, Le Pen could do 10-15 percent better than the polls suggest.

  • Corlyss

    “There are a lot of people in France today who think the sleek Gallic establishment of top university grads is intellectually bankrupt and morally rotten.”

    My! That’s the most faith-promoting, morally uplifting thing I’ve read on Via Media since I started reading it a couple of years ago. You mean there might be signs of intelligent life in France?

  • Cunctator

    There are elements of Le Pen’s message that are very appealing. Her stance on immigration (and integration) for example makes sense — and we see the bankruptcy of the opposing, liberal view every day in Europe. Her position on the Euro is another. That said, when one votes for the FN, you are buying not just her ideas but also a package that includes some rather unsavoury characters and some traditional, unspoken views that are quite frightening.

  • gavin

    please remember that in europe the left is right and the Right is a bit commutard.Benitto and Adolf were both zozialists.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Global trade is responsible for uplifting mankind out of abject poverty, that Le Pen has so much support despite her protectionism, proves that the French are still a very backward people. Protectionism is mostly dead in the US, where the labor gangs couldn’t stop the recent Free Trade Agreements, even after paying Obama hundreds of millions of dollars. I guess Obama isn’t an honest politician, he didn’t stay bought. LOL

  • http://McGrath Tom McGrath

    There’s no chance that Marine Le Pen will get a majority of the second round run-off vote and become president. But the very real problem is that she may get to the second round. In France’s Fifth Republic, there’s only one political office that counts, the presidency, and it counts for everything. France’s left, center, and a large chunk of the right would vote against Le Pen in the second round because she is widely considered beyond the pale, not an acceptable custodian of the very powerful presidency. But it will also mean that French voters will have been deprived of a meaningful vote again.
    If Marine Le Pen gets to the second round in May, it means that between 1996 and 2017, France’s citizens will have had only one opportunity (2007) to vote for a candidate in the hopes that he or she might solve France’s problems, create a better future, and not just vote between an acceptable and unacceptable candidate for president.
    The simple act of voting assures citizens that they have a democratic say in the future, a chance to express them views on what their country’s problems are and how those should be solved. Jean-Maris Le Pen’s presence in the second round in 2002 deprived French voters of that necessary democratic expression. It risks happening again, which would be a very unhealthy thing for France’s democratic instincts.

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