For a Million Votes: France Split Between Far Right and Radical Left

For a Million Votes: France Split Between Far Right and Radical Left

One million votes. This is the key figure in the legislative elections in France, the one that separates the far right from the radical left. The percentages that emerged from the first round are more stretched and say 33.15% (just over 9 million votes) for the Rassemblement National and a more modest 27.99% for the Nouvelle Front Populaire, the left-wing and green coalition. The candidates of Ensemble!, headed by President Emmanuel Macron, are stuck just above the 20% average. All political families are pushing to fill the ballot boxes again on July 7, to prevent the heat and tiredness from causing a segment of the population to desert the vote. Marine Le Pen fears not obtaining that “absolute majority” that would hand the keys to the Hotel Matignon to Jordan Bardella, the prime minister designated by her party.

The center and the left hope instead that the rest of the country will rush to put an X to avoid a scenario considered by many to be anti-historical with respect to the principles of the Fifth Republic. The director of The WorldJerôme Fenoglio, in an editorial believes that France would thus fall into an illiberal and antidemocratic system, like Viktor Orban’s Hungary. Leaving aside editorials and television broadcasts, what counts are the roads, industrial parks, schools, rural areas. The newspaper The Time he detected a feeling of humiliation among the French, which would derive from an enormous distance between the postcard paradise, which depicts Paris, the castles of the Loire, the rugged coasts of Brittany and the vineyards of Bordeaux, and the reality of the other France, that of the banlieues, of the excluded and of crime, as well as the rural provinces, impoverished and disappointed by Macron’s reforms and allergic to the rules of the European Union.

Working class trust in Marine Le Pen

Although the candidates of the Rassemblement National appear in many cases to be mere figures of façade, between neo-Nazi nostalgia, ignorance and administrative confusion, as shown by the services of France Blue And France 3the far-right party has grown in the population’s esteem. The data shows that the greatest trust has been gathered by the working class. In 2022, almost 50% of workers considered the party of the Le Pen clan capable of governing, as well as the one closest to their concerns. What was the hard core of the left, even the communist one, has become the decisive band of voters to go from just 8 deputies to 89 in June 2022. This time, the Rn is aiming for a record number of votes to win the 289 seats needed to win an absolute majority. From extremist and outcast, this political fringe has conquered a leading place in politics across the Alps.

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The Ingredients of the Far Right in France

While there is often talk of a “cleanup” and a distancing from the extremes of the past, Le Pen’s party has won over voters with exactly the same principles as its predecessor, founded in the 1970s by her father: the Front National. The exclusion of certain groups based on their ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation dominates the program. From Jews, they have moved on to Muslims. As the debate on anti-Semitism has exploded in the country, according to the Pharos platform, created in 2009 by the French government to report illegal online content and behavior, between 2017 and 2020 there has been an increase in reports of online content deemed “xenophobic and racist.” The first to be targeted are Muslims. Intelligence services have noted instead that since 2010 a significant number of anti-Muslim acts have been recorded, with a peak in 2015, when France was hit by the atrocious terrorist attacks at the Bataclan and the French capital was plunged into bloodshed and anguish.

Divided France: The Left Advances in the Cities, the Right Sprawls in the Suburbs

Other ingredients include the aspiration to an authoritarian leader, which corresponded to the creation at the drawing board of the figure of the confident and determined young man embodied by Jordan Bardella, despite his poor academic results and his lack of experience in the administrative field. Then there is the principle of “national preference”, a doctrine based on discrimination, which as recalled by the journalist of The WorldAnne Chemin, wants to exclude foreigners from the welfare system to which they contribute financially with their work, presenting it as a rule of common sense. A facade of popular wisdom that serves to hide the underlying racist motivations, which are headed by the creator of this principle, François Duprat, who spent his entire life rehabilitating the nationalism and fascism that shook Europe in the last century.

The robbery on income redistribution

Along with these typical ingredients, the French far right has also been able to propose another issue, stealing it from the left: the question of wealth inequality. While in 2013 only 52% of Rn voters believed it was necessary to “take from the rich to give to the poor”, the rate rose to 67% in 2020. This desire for economic redistribution is associated with a vision that sees economic globalization as a threat. Although Le Pen’s recipes are far from oriented towards increased taxation of multinationals and large economic groups in the country, her party has nevertheless managed to embody in its own way the anti-global wave that was blowing in the country. With all due respect to Manu Chau. Among the most controversial measures is the one proposed by Bardella to eliminate income tax (regardless of how much it amounts to) for young people under 30 to encourage them to start a family in France. Realistic or not, Rn’s proposals have attracted the attention of that part of the population that has discovered itself nostalgic, poorer and ignored by its rulers.

The variegated Republican Front

The face of the “new France” is embodied by the supporters of the republican rainbow, ranging from the New Popular Front to the centrists of Ensemble!. Distant yet united. The strategy of the “great retreat” was not univocal, but it had a significant number of adherents, with over 200 candidates considered less strong who withdrew from the competition to concentrate the votes and beat the exponents of the far right. In the bright half of the moon, more than the politicians, what counts are the faces of the militants, of the public employees, of the university students, of the workers of foreign origin whose rights Rn intends to reduce, of the local administrators, of the agro-ecological movements, of the multi-ethnic families, of the pensioners who do not want to see their country in the hands of the far right.

The leader of France Insoumise is viewed with suspicion by Macronists and neoliberal economists, who describe him as an extremist, almost on par with Le Pen and with economic recipes that are too expensive for the state coffers. His figure is cumbersome within his own political family, so much so that he left the responsibility of televised debates to the younger Manuel Bompard. While the Rassemblement National has positioned Bardella, but remains firmly in the hands of the Le Pen clan, the left has freer hands in terms of leaders. “We do not depend on a single person. And that is what scares the far right the most,” Mélenchon himself reiterated during a meeting with voters.

The Rainbow with Fragile Edges

The rainbow has vivid colors, but fragile outlines. The underlying fear is that the union to reject Le Pen, even if successful, could dissolve in arguments and misunderstandings at the first difficulty. For this reason, Mélenchon is aiming at those 16 million voters who deserted the polls in the first round, to guarantee the New Popular Front a majority that is at least independent of the Macronist center. Conquering even just a small portion of that cake, just over the million that separates it from the Rassemblement National, would give the radical left the taste of an unexpected victory.