Results of the European elections
The Front National came top with 25% of the votes, as against 21% for the UMP (Sarkozy’s party) and 13% for the Socialists.
The National Front has 24 MEPs, the UMP 20 and the Socialists 13. Marine Le Pen and her father Jean-Marie Le Pen have kept their MEP seats, with an increased number of votes.
The Prime Minister Manuel Valls called this NF victory ‘an earthquake’; François Hollande appeared on television the Monday after the elections. Nevertheless, it is not being discussed much at all. Hollande spoke for five minutes and said very little. An elections expenses scandal (re the 2012 elections) erupted the day after the ‘earthquake’ and the so-called earthquake was forgotten.
The establishment is not worried about the NF victory. The National Front has had successes before: 35 MPs in 1986, thanks to the brief introduction of proportional representation. In 2012 Marine Le Pen scored a higher number of votes, 6.2m, as opposed to 4.7m in this present round of elections.
The leaders of the two main political parties are sure that Marine Le Pen will not win the presidential elections in 2017, because it will be a two round contest between two candidates, and voters will rally round whoever is not her, as they did in 2002. So she and her supporters can be ignored, and her ideas dismissed.
Marine Le Pen and history.
In an interview with the magazine Le Point (3.2.11) Marine Le Pen answered questions about history and France; her answers are summarised in what follows. She deplored the removal of the writer Céline from the 2011 list of celebrated writers because of his anti-Semitism; she said: ‘We don’t commemorate writers because they embody the values of the Republic, but because they embody the genius of France’. Did the Minister for Culture remove Céline under pressure from the Jewish lobby? She wouldn’t go that far, but according to her, there are in France associations that have an undue influence on the choices made by ministers. She personally would not go to the annual dinner given by CRIF [Association of Jewish Organisations] and attended by Presidents and ministers, to be given lessons on foreign policy.
Intellectual elites all think the same, and are disconnected from the population.
History has been used to make the French feel guilty. The French have been taught through the history of the Second World War and the history of colonialism that they are a despicable people, and as a result they have lost their instinct for survival. Did she deplore the loss of spirituality in our society?
‘I deplore it. I deplore also the dechristianisation of France. But you can’t explain it only by the loss of influence of religion. It is the submission to anglo-saxon culture which has accelerated this phenomenon. I think that this consumer society, where everything is for sale, is not something that suits French culture.’ Our values are uplifting, honest, spiritual, generous, courteous.
May 1968 promoted individualism, and upset the basis of our society. The desire of the individual is considered superior to the interest of the group. The consequences are felt today.
The left has given up defending the people and now defends minorities in the name of individualism. The left today is a factor of division: it does nothing but create divisions among the people. The left of Jean Jaurès had a national vision, it felt it belonged to a people, took responsibility for its history and prepared its future.
When people ask her what she wants for women, she always replies ‘I want for women what I want for the French’.
De Gaulle had given the French their pride back. But today the French have had their self-esteem taken away from them, that is the problem. Mitterrand carried within him this notion of the greatness of France, which is the mark of great leaders, and this is why he, unlike Chirac, refused to admit the responsibility of the French state in the deportation of Jews: Vichy was responsible, not France. France must be rehabilitated.
France was not born in 1789 and did not die in 1789: there is a continuity, which is the Christian values.
During the war the French were not collaborators; not everyone could be in a resistance network, but do we know what people felt? ‘I accept everything in the history of France, its greatness and its weakness, its moments of genius and its moments of barbarism.’ It is not the European Union that preserves us from war, but what happened during the war. What happened in the Nazi concentration camps was the height of barbarity.
To the last question ‘Are you hurt when you are talked about as a woman without culture?, she replied ‘Joan of Arc could not read or write.’
Naturally enough Le Point titled its piece with the quotation about the camps. This was the sentiment that had to be expressed in order to become an acceptable party.
Marine Le Pen’s ideas about history are not going to be a subject for debate. There is an inflexible establishment party line, enshrined in law, that the attempted genocide of the Jews is the worst event in history. And the French as a nation share in the guilt of it. That Marine Le Pen refuses to admit this perhaps justifies Nigel Farage calling her party anti-semitic, even though Jews are never mentioned and she said that what happened in the Nazi concentration camps was the height of barbarity.
Marine Le Pen also goes against the establishment party line on foreign policy; on Syria, she spoke against French intervention, saying it would be very dangerous for the Christian populations of that country. On Ukraine the NF also wanted no EU or French intervention.
The NF is hostile to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as another attack on French sovereignty.
The NF wants to withdraw from Europe and from the Euro. Then France will regain control of her borders and be able to stop immigration and keep her industry. The argument is that life was better before, when we had our own currency, our own industry and a small number of immigrants. Let us go back to this situation. This is an appealing dream.
In an election which appears as almost without consequence, voters indulge in dreams and regrets and in anti-establishment revolt. In the municipal elections in March this year, which matter, people only voted in 10 NF mayors out of 3000.
NF and UKIP
UKIP have said they would not form a group with the NF in the European Parliament, because the NF is anti-Semitic (even though it isn’t).
The two parties have in common their position on immigration and their position as an alternative to the establishment and their position on foreign policy; UKIP like the NF inveighs against the mad and counterproductive warmongering of the political class, in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. But the differences are probably too big for them to cooperate. On the EU-US Free trade agreement (TTIP), which Marine Le Pen promises to block by every means possible, Farage has not put forward a policy; according to the Financial Times EU officials do not see him as anti free trade. On foreign policy the FN wants France to leave NATO and make a strong strategic alliance with Russia, proposing to Germany to join this alliance. There would be a pan-European alliance of sovereign states, including Russia. Probably not UKIP policy
It would be interesting to know how much of Marine Le Pen’s ideas in general reach the population, or if her following depends only or mainly on her policy to stop immigration.
Economic conflicts between France and the US.
The Hollande government is now involved in the proposed take over of Alstom by General Electric or Siemens.
The US are going to impose a fine of 10bn dollars on French bank BNP Paribas for dealing with countries which should be under a sanction regime, Iran among them, between 2002 and 2009; the French bank may lose its licence to operate in the US.
Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, told François Hollande to stop the building of Mistral helicopter carriers for Russia; he has refused to do so, saying the order dated from 2011 and would not be called into question for the time being.
Hollande, unlike the US, has not stopped his country’s business leaders attending the St Petersburg international economic forum of 23-24 May.