France’s far-right party leader Marine Le Pen promised a crackdown on foreigners and the forces of globalisation if she won the presidency as she kicked off her campaign for a highly unpredictable election.
Launching her bid in front of a 3,000-strong crowd in Lyon on Sunday, she laid out a plan to pull the country out the euro, tax foreign workers, impose trade barriers and stop “uncontrolled immigration”.
Interrupted by chants of “France! France!” and “On est chez nous!” (“This is our country”), she told a raucous crowd that the country was threatened by the “two totalitarianisms” of economic globalisation and Islamic fundamentalism.
A report by UBS Wealth Management last week gave Ms Le Pen a 40 per cent chance of becoming president.Since Ms Le Pen succeeded her father as party head in 2011, the FN has softened its xenophobic rhetoric and developed a statist platform designed to attract blue-collar workers disappointed by the left.
This strategy has helped her party thrive in areas of France that have felt the brunt of deindustrialisation, tapping into growing disillusion among traditional leftwing voters who feel abandoned by the mainstream political class.
Le Pen Platform
- Special tax on job contracts for foreigners
- Slashing migration by 80 per cent to 10,000 people a year
- Make it much harder to become a French citizen
- Jobs should go to French workers first
- Reshape the EU into a loose confederation of nations.
- If talks failed to reshape EU in 6 months, hold a referendum on leaving the EU.
- Exit the euro, reestablish the French franc as the national currency.
Le Pen depicted the election as a choice between those who were pro-globalisation and those who were not. “There is no right wing and no left wing any more. There is only those who support globalisation and patriots,” said le Pen
Le Pen has been widely viewed as a candidate who would be crushed in the second round. That’s a position I scoffed at for a long time.
UBS Wealth Management now gives Le Pen a 40% chance. I find that a reasonable assessment, but le Pen’s chances may be much higher.
Points 1-4 above will ring a bell for a majority of French voters. And given Brexit, the idea of reshaping the EU can hardly be a shock.
In March of 2016, before Brexit, Newsweek reported “Research from Edinburgh University shows that 53 percent of French would like to hold their own vote on EU membership, and in Spain, Germany and Sweden more people are in favor of doing so than are opposed.”
Thus, it’s reasonable to believe that much, if not most, of France would agree with six of seven platform points I mentioned above.
“I think what happened in the UK at the referendum could have happened [in] almost every other country in the European Union – except in the other countries no Prime Minister would have been as irresponsible as to ask for a referendum,” Cordery, who is half English, said, as quoted by The Independent.
“We’ve suffered from 10 years of tough austerity policies at the European level and people don’t see the EU as progress in terms of jobs, in terms of the economy, in terms of social progress.”
In The Netherlands: Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch right-wing, populist PVV party, currently topping opinion polls, openly expressed hopes a ‘Nexit’ could follow a ‘Brexit.’ In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in February that “if Britain leaves the EU, we can expect debates about leaving the EU in a few years too.”
At the end of June, a survey showed that 40 percent of Austrians want their own referendum on EU membership. In March, a poll in France showed that 53 percent of the country’s citizens wanted to hold a vote. In May, a poll conducted in Germany indicated that 29 percent of Germans were in favor of leaving the bloc.
Le Pen Strategy vs. Trump Strategy
Trump won the US election because he struck a chord with people who blamed globalization for their woes and also because he was an outsider who cared little for the establishment.
Le Pen has nearly the identical strategy, minus Trump’s derogatory mud-slinging.
Once perceived front-runner, Francois Fillon, has stumbled badly, following allegations that he paid his wife 500,000 euros over 10 years with parliament money, for doing virtually nothing.
It’s a serious mistake rule out Le Pen. Incumbent politicians are also in trouble in Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock