The National Front, the nemesis of French democracy, succeeded in gaining serious support – around one-fourth of the votes cast – and thus reinforced its influence on French political life
The French "elections départementales," or departmental elections, took place two days ago, and despite extremely gloomy forecasts, the conventional right-wing and left-wing parties fared rather well. The National Front, the nemesis of French democracy, succeeded in gaining serious support - around one-fourth of the votes cast - and thus reinforced its influence on French political life. Participation in the elections was slightly higher than previously, but still only reaching 50 percent. Departmental elections are hard to understand, so is the method of voting. These elections have only existed since 2011 replacing the previous cantonal elections, which took place at the lowest level of local governance. France has been decentralizing its administrative structure for more than 50 years with some success. But governance remains rather centralized and the two-round electoral system largely favors the leading political force. In that sense, besides presidential and parliamentary elections, other electoral contests are seen mostly as political messages sent to the ruling parties.
This time, the message was clear: the United Right - a new political machinery established to help former President Nicolas Sarkozy to win a second mandate in 2017 - largely led the first round of votes. The parliamentarian left, encompassing the leftist lists from the Socialist Party to the United Left, scored slightly better than the National Front. The National Front was predicted to be the big victor of these elections in opinion polls, largely appearing as the top political power in France. This did not happen as they scored at least five points lower than opinion polls indicated, but their performance is nevertheless a historic high after the European Parliament elections.
The National Front is an extreme right-wing movement, its discourse impregnated with grimy Islamophobia, assumed homophobia and very primitive, racist humor. The fact that such a movement obtained only 25 percent of the vote instead of the 30 percent forecast is not exactly a major victory for the parliamentarian democracy. The Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls asked that in the second round of the elections, all voters on the left vote for the "republican" candidate against the those contenders behind National Front leader Marine Le Pen. Sarkozy, posing as the leader of the opposition, was much more cautious in the second round of voting, rejecting both Le Pen's candidates and leftists.
The main adversary to Sarkozy within the right-wing conservative party, Alain Jupp, who looks like a more plausible "prsidentiable," potential president, in 2017 than Sarkozy, insisted that the first round of elections was a disavowal for the Socialist Party and no real big wave to Le Pen. Jupp stressed, albeit not clearly, that French voters are confused, and if they are definitely disappointed by President François Hollande's policies, they do not wish to give Sarkozy a blank check for 2017. In the absence of a truly reliable political project, France, which remains the second-biggest economy in the EU and a great democracy, leans steadily toward Le Pen and her merry party.
Just for the sake of information, the National Front sees the EU as a system with "open borders inducing delocalization, unemployment, market dictatorship, destruction of public services, insecurity, poverty and mass immigration." The EU is the "establishment of a super-state, with its constitution, its indefinite boundaries, ultra-liberal ideology and its lust for new powers, where Turkey is invited to become a member." The last sentence is written in bold, on the official web page of the movement. The EU is definitely in danger of not being strong or combative enough against this rampant fascism.