Populism v. Elites in French Election

Exclusive: Popular resistance to neoliberal economic policies gets its next test in Sunday’s election in France with two populists from the Right and Left challenging two mainstream candidates, explains Andrew Spannaus.

By Andrew Spannaus

French voters will head to the polls this Sunday to elect a new president, in the next test for the electoral revolt that has swept across Europe and the United States over the past year. Marine Le Pen of the Front National, the right-wing nationalist party seeking to exploit the wave of popular protest that has buoyed outsider candidates throughout the West, aims to place first or second in order to participate in a run-off in two weeks to determine the next leader of France.

Marine Le Pen, French presidential candidate from the rightist Front National.

European political élites are hoping that the populist revolt will fall short, allowing a more moderate candidate such as the centrist Emmanuel Macron to win. This could change the narrative of the anti-establishment sentiment that has raised questions about the very survival of the supranational institutions of the European Union (E.U.), under attack due to economic policies that have led to declining living standards for much of the population.

After the victory of Brexit in June of 2016, and the success of outsider candidates in the U.S. presidential elections, the European political class began 2017 wondering if the wave of discontent would produce upset victories in the elections scheduled in key countries such as the Netherlands, France and Germany, with Italy also preparing to hold a general election by early 2018 at the latest.

In the Netherlands, the right-wing, anti-immigrant Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders was thought to have the potential to be the top vote-getter overall, despite the expectation that the other major political forces would then refuse to enter into a coalition with Wilders, preventing him from forming a government. Just as he has for his entire political career, Wilders focused his 2017 campaign on a demagogic call to de-Islamize Holland, claiming it was time to take the country back from both immigrants and the E.U. bureaucracy, presented as a threat to the Dutch national identity.

On economics Wilders made at attempt to intersect the discontent of the middle and working classes, calling for the Netherlands to leave the European Union and promising lower healthcare costs, a lower retirement age, and better social assistance for the elderly. This, despite professing to be a follower of the free-market policies of Margaret Thatcher.

In the March 15 election the Freedom Party did poorly, winning only 13 percent of the vote, far behind the Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy of incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte, that came in first with over 21 percent. Wilders was hurt significantly by Rutte’s ability to exploit a diplomatic row with Turkish President Erdogan to show that he, too, was willing to be tough on Islam, thus stealing the protest candidate’s thunder. Voters appeared to discount his attempt to act as an economic populist, preferring to follow the pleas from the establishment to reject the more extreme candidate and favor stability.

The French Test

Next up is France, this weekend, where Marine Le Pen has attempted to soften the image of the Front National, associated with chauvinist positions since her father Jean-Marie founded the party in 1972. Marine has continued the calls to defend France’s national identity, but has also taken her criticism of the European Union to a higher level, with a detailed critique of the economic globalization policies that have hurt the middle class and created hardship and uncertainty for various segments of the population.

French leftist presidential candidate Jean-luc Melenchon

France has a tradition of nationalism and skepticism towards supranational institutions. Indeed when called to vote on a proposed European Constitution in 2005, the French rejected it decisively (as did the Dutch that same year, by an even larger margin). This didn’t stop European élites from moving forward with their plan for integration, but it’s no surprise that the population is quick to criticize E.U. institutions for the negative effects of “deregulated globalization,” as Le Pen calls it.

The Front National claims to be the alternative to the moneyed interests on the Right and the Left that have created a system that has “paralyzed the economy” and caused “mass unemployment”. The F.N. has also been smart enough to present a specific proposal attacking the free-market precepts the E.U. institutions defend. The idea is to leave the Euro, but not to return to a floating exchange rate system with competitive devaluations and speculative attacks on currencies; they propose to go back to a stable exchange-rate regime similar to that of the Bretton Woods system in effect in the decades after World War II.

In Europe this was called the European Monetary System (EMS), with international accounts settled using the European Currency Unit (ECU) starting in 1979. In the late 1990s, the E.U. institutions transformed this into the single currency, which meant turning power over to a single central bank and demanding control over the macroeconomic policy of all of the participating countries.

The F.N. has also called for eliminating the independence of the French Central Bank, returning to national banking, with the goal of guaranteeing investments for the real economy rather than suffering under the policies of austerity. Not surprisingly, many economists claim these measures would never work, as they fear that such a change would open the floodgates to a wholesale revision of the dominant neoliberal policies in effect today.

Le Pen is set to do significantly better than Wilders did in the Netherlands, although her prospects seem to have dimmed a bit in recent weeks. There is no guarantee she will make it to the run-off, and even if she does, most observers are convinced that in that case the French would rally around her opponent to defeat her. Of course, some skepticism regarding such predictions is definitely in order, considering recent precedents. Le Pen has done a better job of tying her message to the economic discontent of the population, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to “normalize” her with the French population.

A Left Alternative

Another option disgruntled French voters are considering is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former Socialist who has founded his own party called “Unsubmissive France,” whose appeal has grown rapidly in these elections. Mélenchon’s role is similar to that of Bernie Sanders in the U.S. primaries, as his populist, anti-globalization message is not that far from the rhetoric of Marine Le Pen, but without the xenophobia. Mélenchon is heavily critical of both NATO and the E.U. – although he does not call for leaving the Euro immediately – and he supports a significant expansion of social spending and state intervention in the economy.

Mélenchon isn’t truly an outsider, given that he has been in the French political system for decades, even serving as Education Minister from 2000 to 2002, but the jump in his support reflects the openness to candidates who challenge the system. He has almost doubled his popularity compared to his last run for president in 2012, when he took in 11 percent of the votes. The most recent polls show him at 19 percent, not far from Macron and Le Pen, both at 22-23 percent, and essentially tied with the conservative Francois Fillon.

Thus out of the top four candidates, two are considered extreme, raising the specter of a run-off between anti-establishment figures that would upend the political situation in France, and send shockwaves throughout Europe as a whole. This has led current President Francois Hollande to intervene recently against the risk of populism, blaming the insurgent candidates of promoting “simplifications and falsifications.”

If Le Pen or Mélenchon are in fact eliminated in the first round, or lose in a run-off, the pro-E.U. political class around Europe appears ready to celebrate the defeat of populism and the survival of the plan to move forward with European integration. Notwithstanding the black eye represented by the U.K.’s confirmation of the Brexit, it would appear that the anti-Euro, anti-immigrant attitudes that many feared would dominate this election season, are taking a back seat to more moderate and traditional political views.

Declaring victory over the populists could be a big mistake, however. It’s one thing to rejoice over the failure of anti-foreigner sentiment as a driver of electoral politics; it’s another entirely to believe that just because more extreme political movements are failing in this election season, Europe can also avoid the calls for changes in E.U. economic policy.

An attempt to close ranks, to continue to resist against legitimate popular protests against austerity, declines in living standards and widespread unemployment and job instability, would mean ignoring the deep-seated problems brought to the fore by the revolt of voters across the Western world.

The only way to truly win the battle against undesirable elements of European nationalism and populism, is to address the real issues raised by an economic policy that has weakened the middle class and caused most of the population to lose trust in the political and financial élites. In the absence of an effective response to this problem, the protest is not only certain to return in the future, but may well be stronger and more unpredictable when it does.

Andrew Spannaus is a freelance journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of Transatlantico.info, that provides news, analysis and consulting to Italian institutions and businesses. His book on the U.S. elections Perchè vince Trump (Why Trump is Winning) was published in June 2016.

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56 comments for “Populism v. Elites in French Election

  1. john wilson
    April 21, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    The shooting the other day of police should give Le Pen an advantage. If the guy who did turns out to be an immigrant and a Jihadist sympathiser, then she may have the election in the bag. I hope she wins,but not because I hold any brief for her, but the sheer pleasure of seeing those unelected bureaucrats in Brussels getting a good smack in the face, is something that would give a lot of people a great deal of pleasure.

    • evelync
      April 21, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      It would give me, a Bernie supporter, more pleasure seeing the same thing accomplished with a Melenchon win! Avoiding, hopefully, the risk of a paranoid shift that blames immigrants for the ills brought about around the globe from a banking elite gone wild thanks to corrupt and inept political leadership, like WJC’s destruction of the (60+ year success) Glass Steagall. That along with Reagan’s First Act, pandering to Greedy Wall Street, unleashed the S&L’s in the 1980’s costing taxpayers 1/2 $trillion.
      Mr. Clinton’s Second Act unleashed the destabilizing and ruthless casino style practices that led to the 2007-2009 near collapse and the financial destruction of many in the working class who lost homes and a life.

      The banks for the time being may have killed the goose that laid the golden egg, IMO, at least for now.

      For background info for anyone interested, on the crippling of the regulatory framework for what was a sound banking system, and the impact of the elimination of Glass Steagall I think this web site is very good:
      http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/04/has-former-goldman-sachs-president-gary-cohn-gone-rogue-on-glass-steagall/

      • susan_sunflower
        April 22, 2017 at 12:08 am

        Also hoping for a strong Melechon showing … see also Labor in the UK …

      • April 22, 2017 at 7:01 pm

        Melenchon like Bernie or better yet, Tsipras, would only turn around sell the French people to Brussels within months.
        No Way!!!
        Marine Le Pen will lead France in the right direction.
        The accusations of xenophobia are complete bull. I have listened to many of her interviews and she is not racist, nor a nationalist. She seems to me a Patriot who knows France well. If the French know what is good, they will not need a run-off election and go with Bleu Marine.

    • pete22
      April 21, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      Obvious false flag. They are going viral it seems

      • susan_sunflower
        April 22, 2017 at 12:09 am

        I think it’s more a case of “just another antisocial azzhole with a gun” who wanted to part of “something bigger than himself” …

  2. Skip Scott
    April 21, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Le Pen and Melenchon are very similar to our Rand Paul and Tulsi Gabbard. I would like to see France lead the way towards a return of national sovereignty over Globalization. It’s the only hope the middle class has on both sides of the Atlantic. An end to foreign interventionism could pave the way for peace and prosperity and a resurgence of the middle class. When the elites start talking about “simplifications and falsifications” you know they’re scared.

  3. mike k
    April 21, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    For those aware of the onrushing collapse of industrial civilization and all that this will bring in worldwide massive disaster, it is almost surreal the importance people give to the endless petty games of politics and economics that play such a part in distracting us from the real issues we should be facing with radical changes and preparations. To put our hopes and energies in these political games of musical chairs would be comical, if the real future unfolding now were not so grim. Parlor games on the Titanic indeed. Many seem to think if we can just tweek our failed systems some certain way, they will magically do what they have never done before, and get us through the coming changes unscathed.
    Dream on doomed believers in business as usual….

  4. mike k
    April 21, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Footnote to my post above: If you think my dire warnings are somehow wildly overblown, I suggest you do some research of sites and sources that are not singing the corporate songs that tell us everything is fine, trust us and stay tuned to our very own MSM. You might look into the realities of climate change, species extinction, population overshoot, antibiotic failure, genetic poisoning, and many other lethal tipping points we are now facing.

    • John Doe II
      April 21, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      Trump cutting science, medical research, conservation, and humanitarian budgets is a tragedy of ignorance.

      ‘the evil of banality’

  5. susan_sunflower
    April 21, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    and after the French election (in which I suspect LePen will fail to meet fears/expectations), comes the the June 6 election which has “some people” buzzing and breathless about reversing Brexit … now that article 50 has been triggered
    business insider: Imagine, by some miracle, that the Tories lose on June 8: Could a new government reverse Article 50 and undo Brexit?.

    The short answer is yes. But it would take a very, very unlikely series of events, given that the Labour Party is 21% behind the Tories in the most recent opinion polls.

    Article 50 starts a two-year deadline ending in 2019, after which Britain will no longer be part of the EU, regardless of whether the UK has reached a trade deal with the rest of Europe.

    Can a new prime minister take back the request to leave? Or is Article 50 an irrevocable act, ejecting Britain from Europe no matter what?

    The law is unclear, but there have been a few clues from legal authorities as to whether Article 50 reversible.

    Most recently, a leaked European Parliament draft resolution has said that the UK will be able to revoke Article 50 before it expires if the rest of the EU agrees.

    yes, as with the Democrat, they persist in believing this was all a bad dream, Bobby Ewing in the Shower, and we ask “Who Killed JR?”

    I think the French can figure out that yesterday’s shooter is — at least so far — just another glory-seeking loser criminal type, the sort who can’t be effectively “dealt with” without some wholesale jettisoning of anything like a “free” or “open” society

  6. Kalen
    April 21, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    We must not make “populism” a dirty word since it is not.

    It is nothing but expression of interests and aspirations of vast majority of the people prevented from a decisive democratic rule that serves their own interests and not interests of greedy oligarch elites.Of course slogans of populism have often been hijacked but oligarch as is the case with Macron, an investment banker, a minister in the hated government of Holland for Christ sake.

    All that dirtying peoples unalienable right to rule while hiding the reality of what is an alternative to populism namely abhorrent inhumane ELITISM, what exactly we have in the western world, disgusting elitism and vicious class war while they spend a $billion a day for propaganda to suppress this reality seen daily by people who work for living, the reality that is being incessantly denied.

    Now someone tell me what is better about ELITISM. It is worse then populism in thousands of ways it is a political reincarnation of Lippmann racist, classist condescension about people’s ability to recognize their one vital interests and rule accordingly.

    ELITISM that is being pushed down our throats, is nothing but anti-humanism, anti-intellectualism, treating people as animals, sheeple with no human qualities of reasoning or self-restrain. All of that barbarism of western elites is hidden under touchy and feely repugnant immoral propaganda of belonging, a lie about unity of master and slave.

    • Matt Krist Germany
      April 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Great comment Kalen! Can’t say it better.Hope Marine has success,but the elitarian mud in the sink is still very powerful.Let’s pray for a better world to Jesus Christ.That will hurt the mud the most!

    • Bill Bodden
      April 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Well said, Kalen

  7. mcanon
    April 21, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    “All of that barbarism of western elites is hidden under touchy and feely repugnant immoral propaganda of belonging, a lie about unity of master and slave.”

    But, they have given us “mobile devices” to keep us entertained anywhere. No need to think. No need to worry about the end of the world through a senseless confrontation with Russia, China, or North Korea. Don’t worry about the globe heating up to a degree making life unsustainable. I can shoot selfies to post on Match.com so I can meet the person of my dreams or watch the latest episode of Dancing With the Stars or The Voice while I’m driving to and from my job that I really, really hate. Buy hey… I’m being entertained…

  8. mike k
    April 21, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Kalen, mcanon – you get it. And by now I am sure you understand that the vicious elites who rule our world are extremely hard to dislodge, and are not going to be affected one bit by any kind of reforms. Either they are overthrown completely or they will continue to destroy all of us. They will find ways to persist even after nuclear war and runaway climate change has destroyed everything. Their extreme selfishness, greed, and desire to not join the rest of us with our ordinary concerns may qualify them to be the last to survive their destructive legacy – unless somehow we the oppressed find a way to get rid of them.

    • mcanon
      April 21, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      I’m intrigued by Melenchon’s call for a new Constitutional Convention. I think the left should explore the value that same idea might have here in the US. And before people write to tell me of the dangers involved in that and how the Republicans control the majority of state legislators, etc. know I’m not advocating a Constitutional Convention by the terms dictated in the current Constitution, but a convention forced by activism from people in the streets and the workplace. A People’s Constitutional Convention if you will. Just as with the original Constitutional Convention called to rework the Articles of the Confederation, a People’s Convention could determine the form a new government would take and how it would be adopted. As with the 1787 convention it could go anywhere and take on any issue.

      Sure there are dangers in this, but we are now not restricted to the means of participation of the Philadelphia convention. We have the internet. We don’t have to delegate our authority to a small group that represents only their own interests. Proposals could be put forth and debated online or some other way that doesn’t exclude everyone but those with money and power. We can all have a voice in what is decided and how it should be implemented. Our current constitutional and political system is failing the majority and only benefiting the few at the top. You’re right about reforming the system. The level of corruption is simply too entrenched. We have to come up with something the many groups on the left can coalesce around. Single issue and identity politics is not getting us anywhere. Why not try something truly radical?

  9. April 21, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    This should be an interesting weekend, and I’m rooting for Le Pen. I suspect Melenchon would turn out to be as disappointing as Bernie, and having been tied to Hollande is a disaster, as all Hollande’s promises for the people turned out to be empty. I read a couple of interviews with Le Pen, who is a lawyer, and she comes across as intelligent and savvy, no comparison to the extreme rhetoric of Wilders or Trump. The bankers’ old boys and their presstitutes are pulling out all the stops to try to keep her back, but we’ll see. This isn’t the final, of course, but it would be justice to see France get a female president and also to see another thumbs down on globalization and the repressive, elitist EU. And mike k, I agree that hopes seem dim for this overburdened pillaged planet, but a small change might lead to some larger ones. And tomorrow is Earth Day!

    • mike k
      April 21, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Well Jessica, my totem card in the tarot is the fool, as you might have guessed. I am enough of a die hard idealistic fool to keep some inexplicable hope alive in my breast, as crazy as that seems to other departments of my self. We need a miracle!

    • Bill Bodden
      April 21, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      The bankers’ old boys and their presstitutes are pulling out all the stops to try to keep her back, but we’ll see.

      Jessica: I usually agree with most of what you say, but I’m skeptical on this one. Both the bankers and Le Pen are out there on the right end of the political spectrum for all practical purposes despite Le Pen modifying the tone of her speeches for better public consumption. It looks like the French have a worse choice than what we had in November without a Jill Stein to represent the people, if only in spirit.

      • John Doe II
        April 21, 2017 at 6:35 pm

        Reminder-
        ::
        1968:Protests mount in France

        In France, the May 1968 crisis escalates as a general strike spreads to factories and industries across the country, shutting down newspaper distribution, air transport, and two major railroads. By the end of the month, millions of workers were on strike, and France seemed to be on the brink of radical leftist revolution.

        After the Algerian crisis of the l950s, France entered a period of stability in the 1960s. The French empire was abolished, the economy improved, and President Charles de Gaulle was a popular ruler. Discontent lay just beneath the surface, however, especially among young students, who were critical of France’s outdated university system and the scarcity of employment opportunity for university graduates. Sporadic student demonstrations for education reform began in 1968, and on May 3 a protest at the Sorbonne (the most celebrated college of the University of Paris) was broken up by police. Several hundred students were arrested and dozens were injured.

        In the aftermath of the incident, courses at the Sorbonne were suspended, and students took to the streets of the Latin Quarter (the university district of Paris) to continue their protests. On May 6, battles between the police and students in the Latin Quarter led to hundreds of injuries. On the night of May 10, students set up barricades and rioted in the Latin Quarter. Nearly 400 people were hospitalized, more than half of them police. Leftist students began calling for radical economic and political change in France, and union leaders planned strikes in support of the students. In an effort to defuse the crisis by returning the students to school, Prime Minister Georges Pompidou announced that the Sorbonne would be reopened on May 13.

        On that day, students occupied the Sorbonne buildings, converting it into a commune, and striking workers and students protested in the Paris streets. During the next few days, the unrest spread to other French universities, and labor strikes rolled across the country, eventually involving several million workers and paralyzing France. On the evening of May 24, the worst fighting of the May crisis occurred in Paris. Revolutionary students temporarily seized the Bourse (Paris Stock Exchange), raised a communist red flag over the building, and then tried to set it on fire. One policeman was killed in the night’s violence.

        During the next few days, Prime Minister Pompidou negotiated with union leaders, making a number of concessions, but failed to end the strike. Radical students openly called for revolution but lost the support of mainstream communist and trade union leaders, who feared that they, like the Gaullist establishment, would be swept away in a revolution led by anarchists and Trotskyites. On May 30, President de Gaulle went on the radio and announced that he was dissolving the National Assembly and calling national elections. He appealed for law and order and implied that he would use military force to return order to France if necessary. Loyal Gaullists and middle-class citizens rallied around him, and the labor strikes were gradually abandoned. Student protests continued until June 12, when they were banned. Two days later, the students were evicted from the Sorbonne.

        In the two rounds of voting on June 23 and 30, the Gaullists won a commanding majority in the National Assembly. In the aftermath of the May events, de Gaulle’s government made a series of concessions to the protesting groups, including higher wages and improved working conditions for workers, and passed a major education reform bill intended to modernize higher education. After 11 years of rule, Charles de Gaulle resigned the presidency in 1969 and was succeeded by Pompidou. He died the next year just before his 80th birthday.

        ::

        Is LePen like de Gaulle who oversaw the Algerian War?
        Is LePen a champion of the 99% or only French Nationals?
        I don’t see her as a US-1968 era champion/supporter of the
        Berkeley Student Movement, Albert Camus or Frantz Fanon
        She more embodies the nationalism of a George Wallace…

        • Karel Rehor
          April 22, 2017 at 6:54 am

          De Gaulle did not “oversee” the Algerian war. He oversaw it’s conclusion. De Gaulle went into retirement around 1946 when the unstable Fourth Republic was established. A new cabinet or administration was formed on average every six months. When the CIVIL WAR in the Algerian departments started the Interior Minister was one F. Mitterand, who expanded the military’s role in putting down what first seemed an unpopular the uprising. Many of the first volunteers to step forward to fight the FLN where themselves Algerian Muslims or Harki – c.f. Zinedine Zidane’s family. Due to the unstable nature of the Fourth Republic, assemblymen from the Algerian departments were often crucially needed to keep the government afloat. Under the Fourth Republic the role of president was very weak and during the early phases of the Algerian conflict the post was held by Rene Coty. Space prohibits a listing of all the different prime ministers who governed during this period.

          As the crisis deepened especially with the Battle of Algiers, putting the entire Fourth Republic on the verge of a wider civil war, De Gaulle came out of retirement on the condition that he could rewrite the constitution, thus creating the Fifth Republic. The Pieds Noirs or Europeans who had lived in Algeria, many for more than a century (a quarter of the population), thought De Gaulle would be their savior. Only after establishing the Fifth Republic and solidifying his position as a very powerful president, did he announce that he was working for the independence of Algeria and an end to the conflict. The Pieds Noirs and many ranking military officers felt betrayed and founded the OAS – Organization Armee Secrete – and began a counter campaign of terrorism and attempts to assassinate De Gaulle. They were aided by the CIA, which is one reason why De Gaulle closed all US army and airforce bases in France and withdrew his country militarily from NATO.

          Le Pen is like De Gaulle in that she puts the sovereignty of the French Nation above all else, though she seems less critical of the European Union of which she is a member of Parliament. De Gaulle was critical of the European Community project, because it meant a sacrifice of sovereignty for very little gain, but he did not put a stop to it. One of his primary political opponents was Jean Monnet an architect of the European Project, who in his younger days helped smuggle cognac into the US during prohibition and who during WWII was an advisor to Roosevelt and US intelligence which attempted to sideline De Gaulle and treat France as an occupied colaborationist nation much like Italy. De Gaulle was able to use the resistance networks in France to put a stop to this.

          Marine Le Pen took over the reins of the Front National from her Father Jean-Marie who is a crypto fascist nationalist and anti-immigrant racist. He came in second in the first round of voting in 2002 which lead to the creation of the UMP to oppose him. The UMP recently rebranded itself as the Republicans. Over the last fifteen years she has tried to clean up the party and make it more appealing to a wider spectrum of voters. This has lead to a split within the party. New members, who used to vote socialist or left from regions deeply affected by deindustrialization and offshoring form one branch of support. And then there are the older members still tied to the ugly racist past. This wing is one reason why the FN remains untouchable for many French voters, no matter who may end up in the second round.

          The France of 50 years ago is not the France of today. Most French see their nation as a multicultural one, based on an oath for newly naturalized citizens, of protecting the ideals of freedom, equality and liberty and which in the 20th Century accepted per capita more immigrants than even the US. This is in part due to the slaughter of 1914-18. In 1961 it was possible for hundreds of North Africains to be rounded up by the Parisian gendermerie to be murdered and have their bodies thrown into the Seine. Such indiscriminate violence committed by official state organs against residents and nationals would be unimaginable today, despite levels of terrorist attacks which rival and surpass those of the period of the Algerian crisis. It is clear though that many members of the Front National, though probably not Marine herself, would not be opposed to returning to such a time.

          • April 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm

            Excellent summary and analyses. Add to that the original philosophy:

            “In 1972, Le Pen founded the Front National (FN) party, along with former OAS member Jacques Bompard, former Collaborationist Roland Gaucher and others nostalgics of Vichy France, neo-Nazi pagans, Traditionalist Catholics, and others.[7]” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Marie_Le_Pen)

            The French would do well to focus on the catastrophe they created in Libya and elsewhere in Africa (Chad, etc.) with their military fascist regime. Instead, like Americans, they turn themselves inside out about some absurd notion of violation of national sovereignty. “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite”: sound familiar? Respect Les Droits de L’homme”, while we bomb away. Hypocrite nation. C’est un mirage, Messieurs Mesdames; un Dassault Mirage!

      • Matt Krist Germany
        April 22, 2017 at 5:35 am

        Bill,I think left and right political spectrum is a description of the last century.Today it is only important to be Freemason, Pharisee or somthing like that.It doesn’t matter to be left or right.In my Country all “important politicians” belong to those doubtful communities.They get their orders direktly from America and then they do slavish their evil Job.This frightens Europe (And the Rest of the world) German soldiers stand 100 miles away from St.Petersburg.Like 1940.People do not want that!We have absolutely no Problems with the Russians.(Until now)Our time reminds me to 1939.People are frightened.Depressed.Quiet.
        European People are afraid of the american Actions (False flag and games like that) to come.Nobody is in fear of Russia ,China or the moon.

        • April 24, 2017 at 4:48 am

          Vote Alternative for Germany in every election, at every level where party politics is permitted.
          Like Le Pen, Petry is attacked by the elitists, accused of bigotry, and of being “right-wing.”
          What these women have in common is a love for their nation, culture, and way of life, and they want to preserve it for future generations.

  10. mike k
    April 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Let’s hear it for the butterfly effect! Something’s got to get us out of this fix…..

  11. April 21, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Macron is more like Sarkozy, centrist elitist. Sarkozy is heavily responsible for getting Clinton and NATO to ruin Libya. I tend to think Melenchon picked up on Le Pen’s populist message; I could be wrong, but it seems he hasn’t been campaigning that long, and she’s been out for about a year.

  12. April 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Mike, I guess it’s my biology degree, but my view is that nature is the ultimate leveler, and since human predatory capitalists seem very hard to stop by us other humans, sooner or later they will be stopped by earth. I always think of the dinosaurs, largest animal ever on earth, lived about 180 million years, and they’re gone now. Sure, their descendants are birds, but dinosaurs are gone.

    I see that people are getting very steamed up by the Russian fighter bombers near Alaska. I figure it’s in response to the ships heading toward Korea, sort of like the Cuban Missile Crisis in JFK days. Russia must be pretty darn sick of the US and figured the Democrats wouldn’t shut up so they might as well give them something to talk about. I thought it was classy of Le Pen to meet with Putin.

  13. April 21, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Well, Bill, I don’t know what’s right and left anymore. Things are so mixed up by the dreadful warring west and the dreadful predatory capitalists that I don’t think there is any real solution with government. We surely had awful choices here. Quite frankly, I believe human society is nearly in death throes from what we’ve done to earth. Religion had also made it much worse, and the neocon wars have caused this direct clash of civilizations by religion. I think Le Pen is a true Frenchwoman, proud of French culture, and wants to protect it. And France does have an amazing culture, well worth protecting. I took French in H.S. and college, was in Peace Corps Chad, a Francophone colonialist country, spent a little time in France, and feel an affinity with Le Pen’s defense of her culture.

    The problem with Wilders in the Netherlands is that he threw out racist rhetoric like Trump. Unless I’ve missed something, Le Pen states her case as more protective of being French and that immigration is destroying the culture and globalization destroying the economy. I do think western globalists want to paint a bad picture of her, and I don’t think she’s like her father, who is definitely from a very older generation.

  14. Bill Bodden
    April 21, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    CounterPunch has two excellent articles related to the French election:

    “The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty” by Diana Johnstone is very informative from historical and socio-political points of view. This article makes clear that the European Union bureaucracy is a major problem as demonstrated in the upheaval in Greece and now in France.

    “Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!” by Evan Jones focuses on Emmanuel Macron. Readers who recall Peter Sellers in the movie “Being There” will find this article to be entertaining as well as informative.

    • John Doe II
      April 21, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      The French Revolution of 1968 was not founded in nationalism/populism but in egalitarianism –
      Too much democracy or what Samuel P. Huntington saw as ‘the crisis of democracy’
      Huntington’s political view hurdled the US into the arms of Ronald Reagan/Reaganism.

      Look at the world today… .

      • John Doe II
        April 21, 2017 at 6:58 pm

        nationalism is just another word for segregation – or am I wrong…?

        • Skip Scott
          April 21, 2017 at 7:49 pm

          I think that nationalism is a way of bringing power back to the citizenry. Globalization concentrates power to the global elites, and destroys sovereignty. I think we have to realize that there are different cultures and that they deserve to have their space and be respected. I believe that if someone emigrates that they should respect the culture of the country they are emigrating to. If they don’t agree with that culture’s ideology, why did they move there? That’s not saying that a culture can’t evolve from within. As humanity evolves, universal human rights will expand of it’s own accord. It won’t evolve from the barrel of a gun, it will evolve from enlightened example.

          • April 22, 2017 at 3:37 pm

            The catalyst for modern day exodus is precisely being bombed to smithereens with no choice but to attempt to get somewhere where the bombs are not falling; more often than not to the countries that are doing the bombing. Traditional notions of emigration and acculturation do not fit the new paradigm.

          • Skip Scott
            April 23, 2017 at 7:23 am

            Mijkmijid-

            Your rebuttal is very true. However, I would not define them as immigrants, but rather as refugees. Their emigration was not by choice. That is the real horror of allowing the global elites (the MIC and its European lackeys) to run the show. We must learn to wage peace in a multi-polar world.

        • April 24, 2017 at 5:05 am

          Nationalism is the idea that one’s nation is superior to all others. Nationalism is blind, for the nationalist, there exists no flaws in her/his nation.
          It differs from Patriotism, where the patriot although committed to her/his nation, understands that there always exists room for improvement.
          Examples of nationalists include, Adolf Hitler, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Barack Obama.
          For patriots we have Abraham Lincoln, MGen Smedley Butler, and Hugo Chavez

  15. April 21, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    I did read that article on Counterpunch, Bill, entertaining, remember how funny “Being There” was, have to see it again.

    McAnon, your idea for a constitutional convention I like, except how to get it in action with the neofascist state we live under? Well, we could start with a bunch of Occupy people going to Philly for a new constitutional convention and holding it somewhere, recognized or not. Get some guerrilla-gorilla theater going. Like the days of the Yippies, Abbie Hoffman style.

  16. jfl
    April 21, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Le Pen AND Mélenchon => Mélenchon!

    All in play as France prepares to tear up political playbook

    Mélenchon’s current, unstoppable rise reflects the average citizen’s disgust with the whole “system.” He is betting on a sort of third way beyond neoliberal globalization and protectionist nationalism. That implies strong – owned and provided – public services; a mostly green economy; and no financialization.

    May Marianne hook his arm and show us all in the us of a – and Germany – what real politics and real democracy look like!

    Mélenchon!
    Mélenchon!
    Mélenchon!

  17. April 21, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    John Doe II, just saw your last post, these somehow aren’t in consecutive order until one goes back to reread them, which I like to do since there are so many thought-provoking comments as much as the essay itself.

    I honestly think that now we are in uncharted historical territory because of the mess created by the ME wars, the biological phenomenon of steadily increasing populations which continue to put a burden on earth, the technological tampering that has been done with earth’s biosphere, and climate change which is natural intersecting with technocratic tampering. So the politicians have no clue what to do, other than try to manage their unmanageable people and economies. Most politicians are lawyers and woefully equipped to manage anything. The economists are purely elitists.

    I still would like to see Marine Le Pen do well to throw a monkey wrench in the works, send the EU scrambling. Besides, she’s female, and “our” losing female candidate was complete establishment and pro-war.

  18. April 21, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    After reading an article in the Telegraph, I’m impressed with the fact that Melencthon promises to ditch nuclear power!

  19. Loup-Bouc
    April 21, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Je ne suis pas Française.

    Mais je suis francophile.

    J’ai travaillé plusieurs fois en France.

    La France est le paradis.

    Mais, les musulmans tournent des parties de la France vers l’enfer.

    L’Union Européenne diminue les valeurs, la culture, et l’identité de la France.

    J’espère que Marine Le Pen gagne la présidence française.

  20. John Doe II
    April 21, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    As a consequence of the 132 years of French colonization of Algeria, the two nations remain intimately entwined, if not always happily. The continuing ebb and flow, legally or not, of people like Mr. Ouis has created a population of Franco-Algerians and Algerian-French who often live uncomfortably in either place, and whom neither country has fully embraced.

    Since the first wave of Algerian emigration before and during World War I, the migratory flow has never stopped. It was bolstered by France’s need to ensure its reconstruction after the two world wars, and fed by Algerian workers searching for jobs.

    The independence of Algeria in 1962 barely slowed the tide. The number of Algerian emigrants kept climbing through family reunifications, and by the mid-1980s, about one million people of Algerian descent were living in France. During Algeria’s civil turmoil in the 1990s, tens of thousands more people fled the violence between the army and Islamists.

    ::
    Subjugated peoples can’t ever be “free” people. Cultural dominance and National Pride/privilege, will always see “others’ as lesser/unequal. This isn’t uncharted historical territory, it is a continuation of a position of overseer of lesser humans controlled by Western governments.

    When colonized peoples began to agitate for liberty and self-government in the 50’s and 60’s they were met with brutal suppression. Internecine wars drew many to The Continent. The people had divided loyalties.
    The documentary, “The Battle of Algiers” is very informative and an historical classic, vis-a-vis the Republic of France and it’s Muslim population. Follow that key into today’s France – into today’s Europe where so many colonized peoples live as citizens.

    • Loup-Bouc
      April 21, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      I commend your diction, grammar, syntax, and style, except this: “…more people fled the violence between the army and Islamists” — which suffers a dangling prepositional phrase (an adverb) that tries (impossibly) to modify the noun “violence”).

      I commend also your digest of tangentially quasi-pertinent history. Exquisite.

      Still, you err by failing to account the harms Muslims (especially Sunni) have wrought upon France. (France’s harming Algerians is irrelevant.)

      Consider also this: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/21/the-main-issue-in-the-french-presidential-election-national-sovereignty/

      • John Doe II
        April 23, 2017 at 3:54 pm

        National Sovereignty = separatism/racial-ethnic lines of demarkation

        Realities of history disappear rapidly
        Acts of Aggression against Rogue States;

        Noam Chomsky and Edward Said
        (sevenstories.com)

        Some humans recognize truth,
        believe in it, practice it, in living.

        • Loup-Bouc
          April 24, 2017 at 9:21 pm

          I ought to have observed also that in “…more people fled the violence between the army and Islamists,” the dangling propositional phrase is doubly illogical.

          The dangling prepositional phrase (an adverb) does not only try, illogically, to modify a noun. Also it asserts (by necessary implication) that the “violence” is NOT of the army and the Islamists (one or each attacking the other), but, rather, some other (or third) source’s violence occurring in some space that is between the place(s) of the army and the place(s) of the Islamists (violence that, perhaps, a vitriolically aggressive armadillo-band is perpetrating).

  21. Abdul Katzman
    April 22, 2017 at 6:00 am

    It seems to be crystal clear who will become the next French President in either in few hours or in final run-off.

    It became obvious 5-6 months back during beginning of the global Russiasteria. Those who followed French politics at the time saw Fallon’s ratings skyrocketed, well, sort of. Then he was called “too close to (yeah, you guessed it) Putin, then his wife’s “scandal”, then his kids, then etc., etc. All the EU and US spooks were hard at work in fabricating and leaking dirt on Fillon and Le Pen (you know, another Russian agent and Vladimir’s confidante).

    Then almost out of the blue Macron started popping up on every single European news channel. Operation “Macron” has begun.

    For those of you, ladies and gentlemen, who missed Wikileaks’ release of document butch dedicated to CIA interference in 2012 French election (the one that was published before the first part of the Vault 7), it is highly recommended reading illustrating who had already decided outcome of 2017 election and Macron’s victory.

  22. Call A Spade
    April 22, 2017 at 6:27 am

    Trump lasted five minutes before he turned to the dark side good luck.

  23. Herman
    April 22, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Hard to ignore the impact that our policies of destabilization in the Middle East have had on Europe, acting as a trigger for nationalistic and populist sentiments. Added to our destructive Middle East policies is our provocative behavior toward Russia, which has spilled over into Europe. A probable outcome of our policies is the realization of folk in Europe that the alliance of the elites of America and Europe are hurting them, indeed putting them in danger.

  24. Bill Goldman
    April 22, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Is there a candidate who sincerely favors detente with Russia. Trump promised it, then reversed. Are the French liars, too?

    • susan_sunflower
      April 22, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      I’ve been wondering what the French public think about Syria — their chattering and governing classes seem to be even more blood thirsty that the Americans wrt Assad, however, I was startled to learn that the French (and other european countries) were initially quite happy for their Muslem youth to travel to Syria to fight Assad … how that “laissiez-faire attitude has backfired, in terms of allowing French wannabe warriors to return as trained, experienced and hostile domestic terrorists. The riots of 2005 were never “truth and reconciled”, remedies and social engineering to relieve the dead-end poverty were left unfunded and under staff.

      I have no idea how the French press is handling this Champs d’Ellysee shooting, but native born people like him are not about “migrants” or ‘immigration’, but about France not successfully addressing long-standing issues with its minority populations, Keppel/Roy notwithstanding.

    • Exiled off mainstreet
      April 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      Le Pen actually visited Russia during the campaign and has opposed the yankee pro-el qaeda framework on Syria. Melanchon has also taken an anti-imperialist anti-NATO stance. Even Fillon shows a sceptical position. Only Macron, the establishment’s Manchurian candidate, takes the nihilist pro-US position.

  25. Mark Thomason
    April 23, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I entirely agree. Whoever wins this contest, the elites are only holding off the inevitable, reaping the last of their excess profits. The time is coming, if not this time then soon, when major economic changes will win.

  26. Exiled off mainstreet
    April 23, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Melanchon is the true leftist in the race, but LePen is the next most “leftist” in the traditional sense, since she opposes the neoliberal globalist yankee imperial framework and is thus more pacifist. The immigration issue has become a divide and conquer issue used by the sold-out Hollande “left” whose candidate, Macron, is basically an enemy of the French people. Immigration is a different sort of issue in Europe, where ethnic groups always lived, than in former settler states such as Canada, the US and Australia, but even there, the tendency is to ensure that ethnicity does not get “rebalanced” by incoming waves of immigration although there are wild cards, such as in parts of the US where newer waves of immigration restore earlier balances that newer waves of immigration upset in historic times. The bottom line is that the anti-immigration stance of European politicians can’t be criticised in the same way as those in former settler colonies, since the basis of the country has often existed for 1000 years or more.

  27. John Doe II
    April 23, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Realities of history disappear rapidly
    Acts of Aggression against Rogue States;

    Noam Chomsky and Edward Said
    (sevenstories.com)

    Some humans recognize truth,
    believe in it, practice it, in living.

  28. April 23, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    i think very interesting subject and like the web site zingco.net

  29. angryspittle
    April 26, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    What utter bullshit, populism vs. elitism…………it is fascism vs. fucking sanity.

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