I find it very disconcerting that the far-right National Front (FN) has won the first round in France’s regional elections. While the second and third rounds have not yet commenced, the likelihood of the party winning the election appears now to be quite likely unless Francois Hollande’s incumbent Socialists and the Republicans led by former President Nicolas Sarkozy unite and vote tactically in certain regions. If you want to realise how damaging this could all be, look no further than PM Manuel Valls’ remark that an FN victory could lead to a “civil war”. It would be an understatement to call the National Front a polarising party.
If we look at some of the FN’s policies, namely banning dual citizenship for non-Europeans only, you must make the concession that parties of this sort will always have some semblance of racism embedded in them. Considering their attitude towards foreigners, xenophobia is in their DNA. In fact its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen once described the holocaust simply as a “detail of history”. While his daughter and current leader of the party Marine Le Pen, claims to have done much to have stamped racism out of the party, (having gone as far as to kick his father out of the party earlier this year) making minorities feel targeted does little to quell that notion. Trying to ban Halal and Kosher products are only going to alienate people and promote a culture of intolerance. Surely the sign of a strong state is a malleable one which can accept diversity?
So why are French people voting for the FN? The ongoing migrant crisis, coupled with the Paris attacks which took place last month have led many to believe that only the National Front can keep France secure. The party aims to cut immigration into France from 200,000 people a year to 10,000, potentially reinstate the death penalty, and grant the police with greater powers. Marine Le Pen is also renowned for being a charismatic speaker, and so all these factors have convinced voters to reject traditional parties on both the left and the right.
While I disagree with the assertion that Donald Trump is a fascist, Marine Le Pen might actually be one. She supports giving the authorities more powers when it comes to tapping phones and monitoring the internet. Furthermore, Marine Le Pen’s comparison of Muslims praying in the street to Nazi occupation is simply ridiculous. A larger and more ultra-nationalistic nation, are components of fascism which the FN, unfortunately, abide by. This kind of demagoguery from a party that is keen taking to us the past is not a welcome sign for a country which aspires to be progressive and unified. My concern is even though most French people do not have views that are in line the FN, any governance under them would breed even more division and fuel racist sentiments among people. It’s for these reasons that I feel France is on a dangerous and very slippery slope.
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