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Far-Right Revival
Le Pen Soars in Polls as EU Erodes

The far-right French politician Marine Le Pen has just scored her biggest PR victory yet. Previous polls have shown that if the 2017 French elections were held today Le Pen would defeat current president François Hollande in the first round—a remarkable feat, but one Le Pen’s father also pulled off in 2002. French presidential elections feature a second round runoff as well, which was where Le Pen senior faltered. The latest poll, however, shows that Marine Le Pen would defeat Hollande in that round, taking 54 percent of the vote to his 46 percent. Haaretz:

Candidates who Le Pen would beat in the first round of an election, according to the poll, include former prime ministers Alain Juppé and François Fillon and former president Nicolas Sarkozy, taking 28 percent to his 25 percent.

But the only candidate she would win against in a second round run-off is Hollande, according to the poll.

Le Pen’s surge in the polls may seem unexpected, but it reflects a wider trend toward strengthening nationalist movements as well as far-right revivals in various places across the European Union. Support for Scottish independence is rising—and now in Northern Ireland too. Not only Le Pen’s National Front party, but also the far-right UKIP party in England is flourishing. The factors allowing these groups to rise are complex—everything from economic malaise to the leadership vacuum created by incompetent leaders enmeshed in private scandals and dalliances—including Hollande. All these factors pose threats to the cohesion and success of the European project. The European Union is one of the noblest political experiments in human history, but its future looks increasingly precarious.

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  • phineasfahrquar

    “The European Union is one of the noblest political experiments in human history,..”

    Maybe back in Jean Monnet’s day, but now, and since at least the Lisbon treaty, it’s become an antidemocratic dictatorship of the bureaucracy. Sauron was once fair and noble, too, and look what he became.

  • Andrew Allison

    This is a recording: UKIP is not by any stretch of the imagination “far-right”. TAI should be more nuanced in its descriptions of the parties opposing the EU.

    • Penkville

      Quite. It’s taking ever more significant numbers of working class voters from the left wing British Labour party, as those voters become ever more disillusioned with the self regarding elite who have long since shown that they despise this major part of their constituency. Populist certainly, conservative maybe but definitely not far right.

  • lehnne

    the EU was an political economic anomaly made possible by not by the Europeans but the American victory in WWII. They had the Marshall plan, ready export markets and formidable military security and the catastrophic failure of their previous governing models

    • Pete


  • Rick Johnson

    Why do you insist on maligning parties like the National Front and UKIP as ‘far right’? As someone with pretensions of being a serious political analyst, why use such vacuous and hackneyed terms?

    They are democratic parties, espousing their views in stable democracies. Calling them ‘far right’ is just a lazy way to attempt to discredit them, without engaging with the underlying issues that have lead to their rise.

    • Duperray

      “…insist on maligning parties like the National Front and UKIP as ‘far right’?”. This is the effect of leftist “politically correct” hypochrisis, otherwise said “mentally totalitarism”, which usually precludes military backed totalitarism…

  • jeburke

    I’m with the other commenters who question TAI’s categorization of these anti-EU parties as “far right.” If neo-fascists” of one sort or another are far right, it’s hard to see these as in the same category.

  • gabrielsyme

    Dare I say, with 16% of the French electorate approving of ISIS, the consensus governance of France has massively failed. Le Pen may no longer be the worst of options for France.

    • Andrew Allison

      Not to belabor the point, but close to 16% of the population of France are Muslims. You are right, of course that France is a (politically and economically) failed State, and LePen may indeed by the best option.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I disagree that the reasons for the rise of nationalist parties is diverse. I think it all comes down to the Great Depression 2.0, depressions always bring about political turmoil and terrible wars. And I’ve been saying for some time that the Euro, and EU are going to disintegrate just like the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, and for very similar reasons. Nations, Cartels, and Business partnerships find unity easy to maintain when economic conditions are good, but during economic hardship the stresses almost always cause a falling out. The welfare state (Socialist) models of the Euro and EU countries, are inefficient and with a deflationary depression added on top of the existing decay, economic conditions are in swift decline. A similar situation occurred in the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, where the even more inefficient Communist system found itself unable to provide basic necessities to its citizens.
    It is the “Feedback of Competition” that forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price, in free markets. Whenever the burden of the Government Monopoly grows beyond those necessary tasks only a Government can perform (Defense, Justice, Foreign Relations), the economy suffers a penalty of slower growth, growth that is lost forever and will not be compounded into the future. At the time of the Reagan tax cuts, the per-capita income of the Europeans and Americans was equal, in the 30 years since then, America’s over 1% faster growth rate (this has since ended because of the increased burden of the American Government) has resulted in the Europeans earning 65% of what Americans do. And while the economic pressures aren’t yet large enough to force US disintegration, some of the states like Colorado and California have movements that want to divide them up.

  • Anthony

    “The factors allowing these groups to rise are complex—everything from
    economic malaise to the leadership vacuum created by incompetent leaders
    enmeshed in private scandals and dalliances.”

    This post does not mention the real reason Le Pen is popular. Her party is the only one in France that is committed to stopping immigration into the country. Under EU rules, people from eastern europe have complete freedom to move to France whenever they choose to do so. Futhermore, large scale muslim immigration has continued under both of the mainstream parties. The public wants this to change, and they see Le Pen as the only one who is committed to making that happen.

  • Maynerd

    This is an embarrassingly out of touch post. The common thread among populist European political parties is middle and lower class anger at the elites. The elites thrive will the middle class slowly dies do to globalization and unbridled immigration.

  • djf

    The word “immigration” never appears once in this piece purporting to analyze the rise of rightwing and nationalist political groups in Europe. Still, the author finds space to allude to Francois Hollande’s love life. The author implies that the Scottish independence movement is rightwing and a threat to the EU, when that movement is in fact leftist in nature and would not even have arisen in the absence of the EU, of which the separatists intend an independent Scotland to remain a member. A pretty sorry excuse for “analysis.”

  • qet

    “The European Union is one of the noblest political experiments in human history,..”

    Dear Via Meadia: people are increasingly tired of being experimented on. We deserve better than to have to live out our one lifetime in someone’s laboratory, whether of democracy or otherwise.

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