Presidential Loss: Can Marine Le Pen Win Parliament?


May 8, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

The final results of the second round of presidential elections in France were announced today. Emmanuel Macron won 66.1% of the vote while Marine Le Pen was voted for by 33.9% of France.

Already on the eve of the second round of elections, it became clear that Marine Le Pen herself did not believe in victory. Hence why immediately after the announcement of the election results, she announced that she will focus her efforts on the upcoming parliamentary elections in June. But the real salt of her statement is in something else, namely, her declaration of the establishment of a new patriotic bloc for the parliamentary elections. 

Despite the numerous predictions that Marine Le Pen could not win a priori insofar as all of the Establishment’s forces were united against her, it was still theoretically possible that she could win, no matter how unlikely. She had essentially two options: (1) enter into a compromise with the Establishment (the path that Donald Trump chose and won); or (2) offer French society something programmatically interesting and mobilize a maximum number of supporters and wavering voters around this program. As for how Marine Le Pen’s election campaign is seen in Russia, her program was rather vague and her activism insufficient, especially if we take into consideration the resources that were thrown into working against her. 

Marine Le Pen is still the most brilliant representative of the Anti-Establishment (another vivid example of which might be Melenchon), but she instead behaved as a representative of the center-right in the elections, i.e., as part of the Establishment. Only on the question of Muslim immigration did she stand out among other candidates. Overall, her electoral program can be evaluated as rather vague. In order to play the role of leader of the entire Anti-Establishment after Melenchon and other anti-system candidates had lost, she needed to appear as a ravishing anti-mainstream leader and radicalize a key number of her proposals, not try to be one of the Establishment. Perhaps this is what her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, had in mind when he criticized his daughter’s program. In his opinion, “We should speak to France about real problems, such as demographic changes and problems of mass immigration.” 

Accordingly, the candidate’s headquarters should have deployed themselves, as we say in Russia, “according to the laws of wartime,” and convey to Frenchmen the notion that the battle is not about the victory of Marine Le Pen as a candidate, but the Hamletian question of “to be or not to be” for France. It is precisely this that she should have done.

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But instead, we saw a rather incremental and boring campaign. Such an approach can beat an ordinary candidate in an ordinary election, but can’t help the representative of the Anti-Establishment beat the united Establishment’s candidate. Therefore, Jean-Marie Le Pen is absolutely right in blaming the loss on the National Front’s Vice-Chairman, Florian Filippo, the head of Marine Le Pen’s electoral headquarters. For our part, let us add that this loss was not shameful in itself. What is shameful is how one loses. And a lazy football game played not for victory but for keeping points from the other team which is much stronger and favored by the judges and the referees – this is what we saw in France.

Of course, even in this case, Marine Le Pen’s chances paled in comparison to the Establishment. While radicalism could have scared off part of the electorate, it could have attracted another portion. And in such a case, there would be no reason to blame Marine Le Pen and her headquarters for losing, and her campaign would in the very least be unforgettable. Such a shining loss would have become a Pyrrhic victory for the Anti-Establishment and a beautiful start for the parliamentary campaign.

There was also another way to win, namely, by entering into a pact with the Establishment and going down the Trump path. Marine Le Pen most likely decided to go down this path in declaring the creation of a bloc. As far as I can tell, she tried to enter into a contract with one of the small Establishment center-right parties and through this reach an agreement with the Establishment on more or less fair rules for the game. As is well known, the National Front has minimal representation in French municipalities and the ruling Establishment believes the party to be an outsider to be shunned. If Marine Le Pen were to manage to reverse this distrust on the part of the elite and gain high results not only in the presidential elections and national and European parliaments, but also in municipal elections, then she could become part of the Establishment and could count on potential victory. But wouldn’t this turn the National Front into just another Establishment party? And how interested would the French voter be in another Establishment party? I posit that this path’s prospects are very shady and carry huge risks for the future of the party and all of France.

It is unlikely that the new patriotic bloc which Marine Le Pen has announced will win rather high results in the upcoming parliamentary elections. There are two reasons for this. First of all, the National Front’s headquarters are inexpressive and not working to win and, as follows, need to be dramatically updated. But it is unlikely that there is time or will for this. Secondly, over the brief period until parliamentary elections, the French will not yet be tired of the new president, i.e., the minuses of his presidency will not yet have made themselves felt. 

Therefore, Marine Le Pen’s real battlefield is not the fight for parliament, but routine and hard work on program and tactics. 

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Jean-Marine Le Pen had already actively begun playing on the communists’ social field, i.e., in working class districts and suburbs. His daughter has tipped too strongly towards the establishment. The question begs itself: could a return to the old paradigm of working with the people and forging a syncretic alloy of right-wing conservative and socialist ideas make Marine Le Pen a real nightmare for the Establishment and the next President of France? 

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