: How the Far Right Already Won in France #WorldNEWS The results from the first round of the French elections make clear the future of France no matter who wins the presidency on April 24. The now customary
How the Far Right Already Won in France #WorldNEWS
The results from the first round of the French elections make clear the future of France no matter who wins the presidency on April 24. The now customary face-off between the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, and the far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, is set to repeat itself in the second, and definitive round.
With just 27. 8% of the vote, to Le Pen’s 21. 1%, it might seem to many outside of France that Macron’s win is in the bag. The latest IFOP poll suggests Macron could win the second round with around 55 % against 45% for Le Pen. But this is no simple rematch of the 2017 presidential election run-off.
If the last few years of populist electoral victories globally has taught us anything, it is not to underestimate anti-status quo votes which can include a much greater swath of the population than those in support of the status quo. From America to Brazil, the power of the wild card to win big is clear.
The dissolution of the traditional political left and right, saw Macron followed closely by far-right and far-left candidates, and trailed by the traditional parties who would previously have won or at least been strong contenders in this fight. Anne Hidalgo, for the socialists, received 1. 8% of the votes, a damning indictment of the center-left party.
The first round offered a series of revelations, indicative of the wider mood in the country. The ideas of the far right have become dominant in France to the point that around 30% of the electorate have embraced its candidates and Macron and his party frequently embrace some of its positions.
Votes for far-right candidates, including Eric Zemmour, when added up, total 30% of votes. The mood of this election has been dominated, not by what polls reveal to be substantive electoral concerns around the rising cost of living, the environmental crisis or even the COVID-19 pandemic, but by increasingly inflammatory TV debates focused on Islam, secularism and immigration.
In the run up to the election, 80% of French people deemed the presidential campaign to be ‘poor’. It’s hardly a revelation that at a time when the French, like many in the post-pandemic era, find themselves economically squeezed, most are concerned by wages, health and standards of living, issues which the margins seized upon. Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came third, made this his bread and butter. On the other side spectrum, but also concerned with the “working” woman’s standard of living, is far right Le Pen. Together the parties, whose growing popularity speaks to the salience of the concerns, have outpaced traditional parties in addressing increasingly basic needs for many French people: how will they get by?
The rise of the far-right is often presented as only a peripheral threat, but in France, it has been dictating the terms of the political debates for the last decade, as 2022’s presidential campaign proves.
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