In France only ended with the incredible intrigue of the presidential campaign, started the preparations for the parliamentary elections, which will be held in two rounds 11 and 18 June. The result of these elections will determine whether President Emmanuel macron parliamentary majority and carte Blanche to reform, or be elected hostile to the President, the Parliament and start a sharp political confrontation that could weaken the country’s position on the world stage. The greatest surprises in these elections may present national front led by marine Le Pen, the presidential elections showed the best result in history.
With questions about the reasons for the phenomenal growth of the rating of the National front in recent years, its relations with Russia and the prospects of the Pro-presidential party Forward the Republic! LIGA.net turned to Nonna Mayer, research Director CNRS at the Centre for European studies Sciences Po – one of the most prestigious universities in France, graduates of which are including the current President Emmanuel macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
Nonna Mayer is the author of many books and hundreds of articles on French politics and the most knowledgeable expert on the history of family party of Le Pen. In 2005-2016 years Nonna Mayer held the position of President of the French Association of political science. Despite the scheduled minute by minute work schedule and numerous interviews for leading Western media including the BBC, she was able to devote time for an interview with LIGA.net
– How would you describe the result of marine Le Pen in the presidential elections? It was a defeat or a victory?
Is polyporaceae. First of all, she’s got undeniable a very good result. She gathered an extraordinary number of votes – 10, 6 million Is an absolute record for the National front. She got almost 34% of the vote, nearly doubled the score of her father Jean-Marie Le pen in 2002, when he fought with Jacques Chirac. And in fact, it is always important to consider failing to appear. If we relate the result to the number of registered voters, there will be another absolute record for the National front is 22.5% of the vote. Thus, marine Le Pen has further increased electoral dynamics of the party, which she has given a new impetus in 2011 when he inherited his father. It’s a level that had never before been achieved.
But this polyporaceae because at the same time, representatives of the National front, expect a lot more polls predicted 40% or more. Of course, Le Pen received 21% in the first round, this is a good result and at the same time, she was defeated in the second round. And most importance now have parliamentary elections that will be held on 11 and 18 June, because at the moment, the National front just two members, and they hope to get 15 seats, which will allow to form a group in the National Assembly. Some predictions give them 30 mandates, some right up to 100. There is uncertainty in the French political arena, the separation of the right and left, the uncertainty of results of the candidates of the movement of Emmanuel Macron. In any case, we can talk about whether the result in the presidential election a defeat or a victory of marine Le Pen after the elections to the Parliament.
In the second round of the elections of marine Le Pen won in the two departments of Northern France – Aisne and Pas-De-Calais, where high levels of de-industrialization and unemployment, closed production. And polls indicate that it is the most popular candidate among French workers. Why the National front managed to win the traditional electorate of the left?
This phenomenon exists since the 1980-ies, it is not new. The level of support just increased. Jean-Marie Le Pen was the most popular candidate among the workers even in the elections of 1995. The electoral map of the National Front was stable since 1984 is the region Provence-Alpes-Cote d bere, which is close to Africa and the influx of migrants, partly – the valley of the Garonne, where settled refugees (former French colonists from Algeria – ed.) – pied noirs – the moment when Algeria became independent, the Rhone valley, the East and North-Pas-de-Calais.
Simply, it is clearly emphasized since, as marine Le Pen at the head, it is gaining a lot of votes among the workers. But this is not something new. World workers had a privileged relationship with left-wing parties , the Communists and then socialists. Relations with the left began to crumble from late 1970-ies and to the point, when the left gained the best result among workers in 1978 and in 1981, when françois Mitterrand was elected President, and four Communists joined the government. At this time the workers voted in the majority, over 70% left.
And then there was de-industrialization, the crisis of growth, was questioned the status of workers: qualifications, labor solidarity, workers settlement, workers ‘unions, workers’ parties, all that began to crumble in the 1980s. And there’s a part of workers who have turned to the National front in 1988 and 1995. But not the old workers who remained committed to the Communist or a socialist, or stopped going to the polls. This new generation of workers who had the vote, when the left came to power, and who were disappointed. This new generation – the generation of postbaby boom, which has spread the vote for the national Front, because there is a belief that the right wing has never represented workers, but the left is no longer present. And it’s quite clear at the moment.
And along with this you need to understand that not all of the workers were left had a working right-wing, conservatives, General de Gaulle for some elections has picked up 40% of the votes of the workers. And those workers who defected to the National Front is in the first place, the workers are conservative and those who did not support neither left nor right, the so-called “ninety” and not working leftist. Today, when you see that in some elections more than 40-50% of the workers vote for the national front, those who in large numbers carry myself to the right, or neither to the left nor to the right.
And there was another transformation of the working world. Today half of the workers working in rural areas, half work in factories with number of employees 50 people. When we talk about workers, we represent industrial workers. But they don’t represent more than 17% of workers. This is important. And then there are the employees who work in the service sector, warehouses and transport. They are isolated. Everything that made the team, all that United the working class, began to disappear in the 1980-ies.
– Can we say now that the national front has become the main political force of angry and frustrated people in France?
– No. Jean-Luc Mélenchon (leader of the leftist Rebellious France – ed.) got very good result in these elections. For him there was not a lot of voters-workers, but voted for him voters from the middle class, the precariat – the people who work on temporary contracts, hired workers, which mainly have education. Mélenchon attracts educated people.
And if you take young people under the age of 35, she voted for Mélenchon more than marine Le Pen. If you ask students who is (at Sciences Po, – ed.) learn, think will find enough supporters of Mélenchon. But young people without good education, which has little chance in the labour market, among her many supporters of Le Pen.
Whether the national front threat to democracy in France?
– Many French consider her party a danger to democracy, consider that it carries the project, which is an illiberal democracy where there are people and “enemies of the people”, where freedom and law is exclusively for the people, which is determined through the French nationality. This creates fear.
Against marine Le Pen really played her behavior at the debate with Emmanuel Macron, because she did not respect the rules of democratic debate. Democratic debate, is to give the opportunity says to the opponent, the exchange of rational arguments in a polite manner. And these were insults, lies, threats. And in her own environment there is a big rage against marine Le Pen, from people who believe that she tarnished the image of the National front. It’s a complicated situation. I can say that at the moment, marine Le Pen and her party are not perceived as other parties.
– The conflict between marine Le Pen and her father have negatively affected the outcome of the election, the integrity of the ranks of the National front?
– On the contrary. It ended with the exception of her father, and it was in favor of marine Le Pen, who has shown that he wants to break with the past. You need to consider that her father was the party that was created in 1972 out of all the components of the French far right. There were people who fought side by side with the Nazis in the ranks of the Waffen SS, there were collaborators – people who collaborated with the Vichy regime, poujadist (the far-right movement led by Pierre Pujada, from which Jean-Marie Le Pen was first elected to Parliament in 1956 – ed.), the people who fought against the independence of Algeria in the ranks of the Secret armed organization (OAS, the organization that carried out several terrorist attacks and attempted assassinations of Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s, – ed.), a staunch nationalist opponents of de Gaulle, etc. It was to some extent controversial elements in the beginning.
In 2015, marine Le Pen has obtained the exclusion of the father from the party (photo – EPA)
Jean-Marie Le Pen supported the controversial way in 1987, saying his famous phrase about the gas chambers, that is only a detail of the Second world war in the country, which was the Vichy regime, collaboration, expulsion and deportation of the 75 thousand Jews who were sent to concentration camps. We don’t play with this story.
Thus, the front national was the pariah due to the actions of Jean-Marie Le pen. As for marine Le Pen it was important to show that she has nothing to do with the past that she has no nostalgia for the Second world war, no sympathy towards the Nazi regime. Her father said that the Nazi occupation was not so inhuman, and that there is a clear gap that should benefit marine Le Pen. On the other hand, a few days before the vote, she questioned the decision of Jacques Chirac (President of France 1995-2007, – ed.), who said that it is the French state was responsible for the deportation of Jews. She put that into question, saying that it was not the French state. And it has resumed a negative image of the party.
– In Ukraine many people are interested in the position of marine Le Pen in the Crimea. She has repeatedly said the recognition of pseudorandom 2014. Is this an ideological position or the main motivation was the Russian money?
– I think for a long time already there is a link between the Front National and Russia, the admiration of Russia. For a long time it was associated with the rejection of America, it was the idea of importance for Russia. Without a doubt, money played value in the overall picture.
On March 24, Putin met with Le Pen and de facto supported it in the elections (photo – EPA)
But I think that the part of marine Le Pen and some party activists, the importance had some admiration for Putin over his policies, and the temptation, the temptation to change the orientation of the Atlantic the foreign policy of France, and to be in closer relations with Russia. Now, when the power of Donald trump, it may slightly change the situation. But in General, a Pro-Russian bias in the National front there long enough.
– What marine Le Pen have this fascination with trump?
– Donald trump has a policy that marine Le Pen admires – he is a protectionist, he wants to build a wall to close the border to fight against migration and Islam. All this close to the program of marine Le Pen. It uses trump, saying that the people of this great country as the United States has put at the head of state of the person with whom I agree with this, this and this. And moreover, he was in a relationship more positive than its predecessor with Putin’s Russia, in any case initially. And all this could not like marine Le Pen.
– How do you assess the electoral prospects of the main rival of the National front party Republic Forward! created by Emmanuel Macron, in the upcoming elections in June?
It is very difficult to predict what will happen in the parliamentary elections. This is an unknown phenomenon. Emmanuel macron has surprised the whole world, he won his bet. He created his own party only in April 2016. He has shown great strength in creating chaos among the left socialists and right-wing Republicans. This victory six months ago, nobody could foresee. But it is too early to say whether he will be able to obtain a parliamentary one. All calls for him consist in the mobilization of the majority, which will enable him to realize his vision. It’s not easy because the right and left did not disappear. Everything will depend on the methods by which it will attempt to mobilize politicians from the center, left center and right center, which is going to manage.
As for marine Le Pen, she is now faced with the Fronde (a group of opponents – ed.) as part of her party that she will never forgive her performances at the debates ( with a Macron – ed), who believes that her strategy was bad, was looking for votes among the electorate Jean-Luc Mélenchon (left-wing radical candidate – ed.) and not françois Fillon (of a conservative candidate-ed.) , the other can not forgive her of the things that strikes fear in people – the idea of leaving the Euro zone and the EU. There are people who are mainly her niece Marion maréchal Le Pen (announced his retirement from politics on 10 may to have more time to devote to the child, but many experts consider this a temporary step – ed.). It is more liberal in terms of Economics, to a lesser extent in favour of state intervention, but more conservative in terms of values that oppose same-sex marriage, but less anti-European and did not believe that these questions should first raise. Why the national front are waiting for a real debate about mistakes made, who is responsible for them. The party can fly over their heads. Provided in the near future the Congress of the National Front and a possible change of party’s name.
Thus, we are now seeing great turbulence among the socialists and among Republicans and in the National Front and the time of development of the party of Emmanuel Macron. And maybe the national front will come to power, but certainly not with such a program.