domingo, 7 de maio de 2017
Marine Le Pen defeated but France's far right is far from finished / National Front will change its name after Le Pen’s defeat
Marine Le Pen defeated but France's far right is far from finished
Despite a heavy defeat in the presidential runoff, the Front National’s chief concerns have become part of the national debate
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
Sunday 7 May 2017 21.18 BST Last modified on Sunday 7 May 2017 23.09 BST
France’s far-right Front National will not disappear from the political landscape just because Marine Le Pen has lost the presidential race.
Le Pen might have been squarely beaten in the presidential runoff by the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron – as voters from the right and left joined forces to block her – but she was still projected to have won up to 11m votes. Le Pen immediately vowed that she would radically overhaul and reinvent her political movement, leaving open the possibility the Front National could be renamed.
This was a staggering, historic high for the anti-European, anti-immigration party that during the campaign was slammed by political opponents as racist, xenophobic, antisemitic and anti-Muslim despite Le Pen’s public relations efforts to detoxify its image in recent years.
The party’s presence at the heart of French politics – where its ideas are regularly appropriated by mainstream parties – is now so taken for granted that Le Pen’s presence in the presidential final round was accepted as inevitable by the political class for years. It was not met by the shock and mass street protests that greeted her father’s reaching the final in 2002.
Political scientists have warned that no one should write off the French far right after Marine Le Pen’s presidential loss. The Front National has slowly been gaining ground for the last 45 years and its steady electoral increases must be seen in the long term. The issues that the party has sought to focus on and capitalise from – the terrorist threat, the refugee crisis, immigration, mass unemployment, deindustrialisation, voters who struggle to make ends meet – are unlikely to instantly disappear.
“The Front National is not finished,” said Jean-Yves Camus, director of the Observatory of Radical Politics at the Jean-Jaurès foundation in Paris. “We have no reason to believe that the job market will change for the better in the next few years. We have no reason to believe that the negative impact of globalisation will stop during the years to come. So there might be a drop in the Front National vote, but if the situation is bad in 2022 [at the time of the next presidential election], they could rise again.”
Since Marine Le Pen took over the Front National leadership from her father six years ago, the party has steadily increased its electoral fortunes, making gains in every local, European and regional election. It has built up a grassroots presence of local officials and increased membership. Its rhetoric and chief concerns – including immigration and Islam’s place in France – have taken up more and more space in French national debate and have been appropriated by the mainstream right and even the left.
Nevertheless, inside the Front National, there will be internal party recriminations over how Le Pen ran her campaign. The controversial central manifesto pledge to leave the euro was seen as having dissuaded much-needed voters from coming over from the right. It was the source of wavering and bickering inside the party. Le Pen’s TV debate performance was seen as aggressive, erratic and completely at odds with her initial aim to appear “presidential” and reassuring in the campaign. That highly criticised TV performance was also seen to have cost her second-round voters from the mainstream right who might otherwise have given theirsupport.
The younger generation of party officials who want to move the Front National from years of opposition to a chance at power will be agitating over policy at the party’s congress to be held by the end of the year. But Le Pen’s personal position for the time being is seen as safe. She runs her party from the top down and has not left space for senior figures to challenge her. Her niece, the member of parliament Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, is more hardline, more Catholic and socially conservative than her aunt and more interested in alliances with rightwing politicians than in attempting to win voters from the left. She is seen as having a strong future in the party but is not in an immediate position for a power grab.
The Front National’s immediate focus now is the French parliamentary election to be held in two rounds on 11 and 18 June. The party only has two MPs in the 577-seat French national assembly and the current voting system – which does not feature proportional representation – makes it hard for the far right to translate millions of presidential votes into constituency seats. The Front National is hoping to win at least 15 MPs, which would be enough to have its own parliamentary grouping, but much depends on how the left, right and Macron’s new centrist En Marche! movement decide to field opposing candidates.
It is also likely to have to address the corruption and financial investigations over party funding that had threatened to overshadow the presidential race. During the campaign, Le Pen refused to attend a summons for police questioning in a French investigation into whether her party misused more than €300,000 (£254,000) in European public funds to illegally pay her French party workers from the European parliament kitty. After the parliamentary elections in June, Le Pen is likely to have to face these allegations and be questioned by police.
The number of votes for Le Pen in the presidential first round showed that she had increased her party’s support in a swath of the deindustrialised north and north east as well as the party’s heartlands in the south, but also in the centre and rural and peripheral areas in and outside small towns. In the first round, the Front National was the biggest party among the working class and had increased support in the public sector, in areas such as the police. It also increased its vote among 35- to 49-year-olds.
Party strategists must now decide whether this can be translated to seats in parliament. Le Pen has not said if she will run for parliament herself.
National Front will change its name after Le Pen’s defeat
Leader announces transformation after heavy loss to Emmanuel Macron in presidential election.
By NICHOLAS VINOCUR 5/7/17, 9:01 PM CET Updated 5/8/17, 5:19 AM CET
PARIS — French far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Sunday that her National Front party would undergo a “profound transformation” and a top aide said its name would change after a decisive defeat in the presidential election.
“The National Front must also renew itself,” Le Pen told supporters near Paris after projections of the election result showed her losing by 34.5 percent to Emmanuel Macron’s 65.5 percent. “I will therefore start the process of a deep transformation of our movement … I call upon all patriots to join us.”
National Front Vice President Florian Philippot said the party’s name was bound to change as part of the transformation — a possibility that was under discussion during the campaign but never acted upon.
“Marine Le Pen said it clearly: the National Front will change,” said Philippot, a key architect of the party’s anti-European Union position. “It’s going to change into a new political force which, necessarily, will not have the same name.”
Le Pen vowed to overhaul her party as part of a strategy to win as many seats as possible in next month’s parliamentary election.