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The Front Nationale is expected to get at least 18% of the vote in the ongoing European Parliament elections and with eleven new cities in France resulting from a "breakthrough" (the BBC's words, not mine) in the recent local elections. The best forecast of Le Pen's triumph is the change of the mainstream European media's tone when writing about Marine and her party.
A few years ago she was called "The Devil's Daughter" by The Atlantic and "France's (Kinder, Gentler) Extremist" by the NYT. Now, the same author who referred to her as the "Devil's Daughter" penned an article in the Nation asking "Has Marine Le Pen Already Won the Battle for the Soul of France?" and the BBC devoted three feature articles to the FN's rise, all surprisingly moderate in tone.
One of the BBC features talks about the FN's victory in the northern city of Henin-Beaumont, a socialist stronghold for the past 70 years. Fed up with the Socialists' corruption, economic slowdown, and a rise in crime (read: immigrant crime), the voters elected a telegenic FN mayor, Steeve Briois. The biggest issue was of course, uncontrolled immigration and the crime that goes hand in hand with it. A young voter complained about the crime in housing estates and an older man had this to say about the joys of open borders and mass immigration:
I don't think I am being racist when I say that there may be rather too many immigrants. I live in an area where Roma people live in camps and we suffer thefts and poaching as a result. Enough is enough.
Interestingly enough, the local Algerian residents do not seem to mind their new FN mayor. After all, they are the ones that suffer the most from their compatriots' rampant criminality and sociopathy. Mohammed Ayad-Zeddan, an Algerian from Henin-Beaumont who gave his full name and agreed to have his picture posted with the article, complained about the rise in crime and supports the law-and-order stance of the FN. Another Arab resident praised the new mayor's idea to put up more security cameras. In another feature, the BBC spoke to non-European supporters of the FN, many of whom gave their full names and wholeheartedly supported Le Pen's policies. As an Aramean Christian FN member pointed out, "People of foreign origin suffer all the ills highlighted by Marine Le Pen - insecurity, mass migration and poverty". And a Black supporter praised the FN for its "defense of modest, forgotten people".
The only vocal opponent of the FN in Henin-Beaumont was a French woman who yelped about the politically-incorrect comments she heard in her sandwich shop. Just like in America, where working-class urban Blacks and Hispanics are more conservative and law-and-order than the White liberals who howl about "discrimination" and "police brutality" while living in lily-white suburbs and refusing to set foot into the subway. An NYPD officer once told me how the older church-going hardworking Black ladies in his Harlem patrol sector demanded that he "throw those gangster kids out of my building's entrance and lock them up", only to sheepishly point out that he could do nothing thanks to the recent judicial rulings.
Not to say that the mainstream media suddenly turned pro-FN. In every one of those articles, there are still barbs, clothed in code words like "extremism", "intolerance", "isolation", and other examples of leftist newspeak. But the fact that the mainstream is adopting a more reasonable, even respectable tone towards a hard right party means that there is a shift in European public opinion, which even the media masters cannot ignore. Let us hope that the FN's triumph in the European elections will pave the road to a long overdue Le Pen presidency in 2017.
From the BBC's (and your) lips to God's ears.
On the ground, Ayméric Chauprade's FN list for the European elections is polling 22 to 24%, and in most polls in recent months has been ahead of both the UMP and the PS. The FN is even polling above 20% in Île-de-France, a region which is usually an electoral catastrophe for the party - and in recent years, for the right in general, outside the chic districts of Paris and the old-aristocratic or aristocratic-pretender stronghold of the Yvelines département. Speaking of the Yvelines, the deputy from Versailles, Henri Guiano, has declined to endorse his own party list (UMP) and is being tight-lipped about his own vote, mindful of the frustration of the many Roman Catholics in his district at the UMP's failure to provide a solid answer in the form of a viable leader about the Ayrault-Valls government's deliberate targeting of them and theirs during the gay marriage debacle and on other points. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan's attempts to capitalize on this with a party platform strikingly similar to that of Philippe de Villiers's now-marginal MPF does not seem to be getting anywhere.
It is not time to dismiss the traditional right-wing Gaullist faction in France just yet, however. There is quite a bit of good, competent energy left in it, but it is not being properly channeled. The FN is still largely a testimonial party, which explains why it will do better at the European elections than it would be likely to do at Parliamentary elections today. There is a danger that François Hollande may dissolve the National Assembly after the European elections. The right would certainly come to power and the FN would add a few more seats but no more than a dozen at best unless Hollande calls for proportional representation to cause chaos on the right the way Mitterrand did for the first cohabitation. It is not clear whether the FN is ready for power at the present moment and the UMP definitely is not. But either scenario would likely precipitate a juicy 2017 victory for the PS.
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