Pour Marine Le Pen, “le peuple a parlé”. La chef de file du Front national, forte de ses 25% aux élections Européennes, clame dans tous les médias que son parti est le premier parti de France : “les Français ne veulent plus être dirigés du dehors. Ils n’ont pas seulement lourdement sanctionnés les partis du renoncement. Ils ont aussi conféré au FN la responsabilité d’appliquer ses idées”. Pour Le Pen, ce weekend est un tournant dans la vie politique puisqu’il représente, d’après elle, le moment où le peuple français se tourne vers les idées nationalistes en masse et exprime par là son désir démocratique d’un virage vers la droite dure. Le quart des suffrages exprimés en faveur de son parti semblent suffisant pour justifier un changement de cap drastique : “Le président de la République doit maintenant prendre les dispositions qui s’imposent pour que l’Assemblée devienne nationale, représentative du peuple et à même de mener la politique d’indépendance que le peuple a choisie ce soir.” Il n’en faut pas plus pour Jean-Marie Le Pen pour demander la démission du François Hollande. Continue reading Repenser la démocratie pour contrer le FN
As far as Marine Le Pen is concerned: “The people have spoken.” The leader of the Front National, which has taken 25% of the French vote in the European Parliamentary elections claims her party is now “number one” in France.
“Our people demand one type of politics,” she told jubilant supporters. “They want French politics by the French, for the French, with the French. They don’t want to be led any more from outside, to submit to laws … Tonight is a massive rejection of the European Union.”
And a ripple effect appears to have already reached the Elysée Palace. Embattled French president, Francois Hollande, called a crisis meeting of his cabinet after which he gave a televised statement in which he outlined what appears to be a major shift in attitude, saying that the EU had become “remote and incomprehensible” to many people.
Traduction de l’anglais : Amélie Marriq (université de Bath)
Nombreux sont ceux qui estiment que les partis d’extrême-droite seront les grands gagnants des prochaines élections européennes. Certains sondages suggèrent même que le Front National en France, le Parti pour la liberté aux Pays-Bas, le Parti de la liberté d’Autriche, le Parti populaire danois ainsi que le Parti pour l’indépendance du Royaume-Uni (UKIP) pourraient remporter les élections dans leur pays respectif.Ce n’est pas vraiment une surprise, étant donné les circonstances extrêmement favorables dans lesquelles s’est déroulée la montée de ces mouvements populistes et nativistes. Les élections de second ordre comme les Européennes se sont toujours avérées bénéfiques aux partis minoritaires : elles fournissent l’occasion aux eurosceptiques et nationalistes de mener une campagne négative “facile”, qui s’en prend à des institutions que l’électorat ne saisit pas vraiment et auxquelles il ne s’intéresse pas tellement.
La situation économique favorise elle aussi la montée des partis d’extrême-droite, étant donné que les partis au pouvoir, qu’ils soient de gauche ou de droite, ont été obligés d’adopter des mesures d’austérité douloureuses. Malgré des signes de reprise économique, de nombreux pays souffrent encore des conséquences de la crise, et les prévisions à court et à long terme ne laissent rien présager de bon. Fin 2013, contrairement aux signes précoces de reprise économique vantés par les gouvernements, 68 % des personnes ayant répondu au sondage Eurobaromètre ont déclaré que la situation actuelle de leur pays n’était pas bonne, et 50 % des sondés estiment que le pire est à venir. Dans un tel contexte, il n’est pas étonnant de voir une partie de la population inquiète de la situation actuelle avoir tendance à se tourner vers une politique d’exclusion nationaliste alternative. Continue reading La crise de la démocratie n’est pas celle que l’on croit
Distrust of EU institutions, not far right, is real threat to our European future
By Aurelien Mondon, University of Bath
It is widely predicted that far-right parties will be the big winners of the 2014 European elections. Some polls have even suggested that the French Front National, the Dutch Party for Freedom, the Austrian Freedom Party, the Danish People’s Party and the UK Independence Party could be the winning parties in their respective countries.
This is hardly surprising as the rise of these populist, nativist movements has taken place in extremely favourable circumstances. Secondary elections have always proven beneficial for parties beyond the mainstream. The Eurosceptic side, whether opportunistic or ideological, is able to run an “easy” negative campaign, attacking institutions which the public doesn’t properly understand and in which it is not very interested.
Marine Le Pen called the results of last weekend’s French local elections an “earthquake” – co-opting a phrase used about her father’s accession to the second round of the presidential elections in 2002. There is no doubt that the Front National did well in the first round on Sunday, winning in one town in the north and sending up to 229 candidates to the second round next weekend, almost doubling its 1995 record. For Le Pen, Sunday confirmed “the end of the bipolarisation” of French politics: “the French had freed themselves from the obsolete Left/Right choice”.
The reporting of these elections had the FN all over it. For centre-left Libération “the Front National is at the centre of the game”. Right-wing Le Figaro stressed the FN’s breakthrough – Steeve Briois, winner in formerly left-wing Hénin-Beaumont, was a symbol of this “blue Marine” wave. Le Monde ran countless articles analysing this potential “earthquake” while Le Parisien featured a prominent picture of Le Pen’s advisor Florian Philippot. The FN even made the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and many other newspapers across the globe.
Participation is commonly viewed as the cornerstone of liberal democracy. In Europe, however, the decades since the 1980s have been marked by falling participation and increased disillusionment with institutional politics. These trends are most striking among young people – those within the rough boundaries of 15 to 25 years old – an electoral demographic increasingly alienated by mainstream politics.
Meanwhile, this distrust and disillusionment in older voters has precipitated the resurgence of populist anti-immigration parties across Europe. By positioning themselves beyond the left/right divide, against the establishment, some of these parties have mobilised a growing part of the discontented. In this context, the young vote appears as a natural target for the protest parties on the right, but is it likely to follow their call?
Mondon, Aurelien. 2014. “The Front National in the Twenty-First Century: From Pariah to Republican Democratic Contender?” Modern & Contemporary France:1-20. doi: 10.1080/09639489.2013.872093.
The impressive result obtained by Marine Le Pen in the 2012 presidential elections has raised many questions regarding her ability to break the glass ceiling which many had thought unreachable for the Front National (FN). For some, this progression in the polls was a consequence of the softening of the discourse of the party and Le Pen moving away from her father’s more radical stance. However, the fact that this rise came after five years of Sarkozist presidency should not be underestimated, and the context following Sarkozy’s 2007 election can be seen as partly responsible for the FN reaching new heights. What this article will argue is that the new status acquired by the FN in 2012 was dramatically facilitated by the campaign by the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), which continued the legitimisation of the Le Pens’ party rhetoric and allowed it to enter the selective category of respectable, ‘democratic’ and ‘republican’ parties. To highlight this development, this article will focus on three themes: the exaggerated state of crisis, the use of populism and the vilification of Islam through the use of neo-racist rhetoric by both the UMP and the FN.
Les résultats impressionnants obtenus par Marine Le Pen lors de l’élection présidentielle de 2012 ont démontré que le Front National (FN) avait dépassé un nouveau seuil. Pour certains, cette progression était le résultat du processus de modération et du délaissement des techniques plus radicales de Jean-Marie Le Pen. Bien que la stratégie de Marine Le Pen fût un succès, les cinq années de présidence sarkoziste ont également joué un rôle prépondérant dans la poussée électorale du FN. Cet article va montrer que la nouvelle stature du FN a en fait été facilitée par la campagne de l’Union pour une Mouvement Populaire (UMP), qui a poursuivi sa légitimation du parti des Le Pen, et lui a permis de rentrer dans la cour des partis ‘démocratiques’ et ‘républicains’. Pour étudier ce développement, cet article va se concentrer sur trois thèmes de campagne déterminants: un sentiment de crise exagéré, une utilisation abusive du populisme, et la stigmatisation de l’Islam grâce à une rhétorique néo-raciste.
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Front National in France, recently threatened to sue anyone who labelled her party as “extreme right”. This is interesting in many respects, most notably because it demonstrates the new-found confidence of a party increasingly portrayed as a normal, “democratic”, “republican” contender in the French political landscape.
Today, the Le Pens’ legitimisation strategy is commonly promoted beyond the party. It is implicitly accepted within mainstream politics and the media, but also increasingly within sections of academia – despite a large body of evidence suggesting the need for caution.
Long before a new poll put France’s National Front ahead of the mainstream UMP, conservatives have increasingly courted the far-right’s voters. François Picard’s panel sees the trend playing out elsewhere across the continent.
‘Common sense’ is usually believed to be just that: common sense. I have it, you have it, everyone has it. Or more precisely, only those we disagree with, and therefore many of our politicians, seem to lack it. It’s just the way things should be, or how they used to be ‘back in the good old days’. Defining common sense, however, is not that simple. Most of us will claim unconvincingly that everyone knows what it is; that it is something so obvious that it does not need to be defined. If pushed, many would probably say that it is merely the natural or logical state of things, the answer we all know deep down is true. But do we really? Is one’s common sense the same as one’s neighbours’, countrymen’s and women’s or political opponents’? Is one’s common sense born out of nature, logic, or any other objective force; does it reflect our own prejudices and deep-seated beliefs; or is it created, theorised and imposed by various groups over others? In academic circles, the concept of common sense is often linked to that of hegemony, or as Peter Thomas defined it, ‘a strategy aiming at the production of consent, as opposed to coercion’. For Thomas, drawing on the works of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, ‘hegemony involves a leading social group securing the (active or passive) consent of other social strata rather than unilaterally imposing its decrees upon unwilling “subjects”’. It is akin to what Rancière and others have called the politics of consensus: common sense is created when a group in society imposes its vision as one that cannot be challenged.
In Australia, as elsewhere, ‘common sense’ has become an essential political prize in the liberal democratic struggle. Our politicians are often accused, or accuse each other, of acting ‘non-sensically’, of misunderstanding the people’s general will, of being ‘out of touch’. Alternatively, politicians often claim to represent the ‘practical’ or ‘sensible’ viewpoints of the majority and give weight to such claims through the use of colloquialisms. Tony Abbott, for example, used the term ‘fair dinkum’ eight times in a memorable debate against Julia Gillard in 2010, and more recently declared, against evidence, that ‘the vast majority of asylum seekers who arrive by boat are not fair dinkum refugees’. Another favourite among politicians is a ‘fair go’. Yet what is a ‘fair go’? Can we assume that the most left-wing Labor supporter will agree with an ardent Liberal’s conception? That a Queenslander’s definition will be the same as that of a Victorian? That a farmer’s will resemble that of a pundit? That an asylum seeker will be on the same wavelength as a One Nation supporter?
Mondon, A. (2013) ‘Fair dinkum politics or the death of politics’, in Tavan, G. (ed.) State of the Nation: Essays for Robert Manne. Melbourne: Black Inc.
According to a report published by Konrad Adenauer foundation in Germany, Europe’s right-wing and national populist parties are on the upswing, even despite some recent electoral setbacks. “ They have entered parliaments across Europe and some parties are even participating in national governments. For all actors involved in EU politics, these developments should be taken seriously”.
How great are the risks, linked to populist parties’ rise, and what needs to be done to reduce them?
We are discussing these and other issues with our guest speakers Dr. Aurélien Mondon of the University of Bath and Lila Caballero, head of projects at Counterpoint research center.
On a recent research trip to Australia, I was not surprised to gauge a rather depressed mood as the election was announced and campaigning began. Of course, I would not claim that the people I talked to are either representative of the Australian electorate as a whole, or numerous enough to provide a convincing account of the situation (can any poll claim to represent the population?), but it brought a few interesting points to my mind.
On the whole, my friends and colleagues (most of whom would be described by the Australian Murdoch press as ‘latte sipping bleeding hearts’) are feeling disheartened by the choice they will have to make on the 7th of September. Yet they cannot just forget about the election, for Australia is one of the few countries where voting is compulsory and where a vocal affirmation of your refusal to vote could land you a fine at best, and at worst possibly in jail, if you tried to convince others to reflect on the system. Coming from a place where voting is not compulsory, this law has always made me uneasy. Many Australians argue that it helps democracy inasmuch as it forces people to take part in today’s most potent democratic ritual. If they were not threatened by fines, wouldn’t many Australians prefer to stay at home or to do something else, victims of what Senator Payne described ‘apathy and indolence’ when compulsory voting was passed in 1924? Some would even add that in the current global climate, where voting is plummeting in many western countries because of the widespread feelings of disillusionment and powerlessness within the electorate, compulsory voting forces the people to engage with politics.
Continue reading Voting in a dystopian age – when democracy bites its tail
What democracy really means is the capacity to do things. While the governing elite has increasingly borrowed populist rhetoric from the extreme right to win elections, it has also used the growth of populism to discredit the concept of ‘the people’ and redefine the meaning of democracy.
A rally for Marine Le Pen in Montpellier, France. Demotix/Xavier Malafosse.
As exemplified in the recent debate between Philippe Marlière and Catherine Fieschi, populism is a highly contentious concept, and yet one which cannot be avoided when discussing contemporary politics in Europe.
More interesting is that this debate brings to light a prominent mindset in contemporary academia and policy making, in which ‘politics’ tends to be limited to its consensual liberal ‘moderate’ form. There is little doubt that, at least before Marlière’s response, Fieschi’s argument won over many of the readers of a platform like openDemocracy. However, while reassuring, such an argument can easily lead down a slippery slope towards a patronising view of the ‘people’ and their very real problems, insecurities and hopes for change, however misguided.
Continue reading Populism or the fear of democracy
First collaboration with Nicholas Startin on the Conversation
For followers of British politics the narrative is familiar: populist right-wing party champions withdrawal from the European Union and a harder line on immigration and suddenly start pulling out remarkable by-election results. It has worked here for Nigel Farage and UKIP, while in France, a similar message is paying dividends for Marine Le Pen and her Front National.
The result of the Villeneuve-sur-Lot by-election in south west France a week ago sent shock-waves through the French political system as FN polled 46.24% in the second round run-off.
The by-election in the disgraced former French Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac’s seat only served to underline the onward march of the FN and to confirm its leader Marine Le Pen as a significant challenger in the 2017 Presidential elections on the back of her 18% score in last year’s contest.
Continue reading Far-right earthquake could be bigger than 2002 for France – with Nicholas Startin
Yekaterina Kudashkina and Ian Sumter
Today we are looking into the issue of Nazism. 68 years ago the Nazi armies of Europe were defeated and the Nazi Government of Germany was overthrown. A long occupation and de-Nazification of the country was accompanied by an international resolve to pass new laws and create new institutions to ensure that such a phenomenon would never return. However, in recent years openly far-right and Nazi-oriented groups have arisen across Europe.
How serious a threat do they represent? Why have they come back to life now? And are there the lessons from history being forgotten?
We are discussing these and other issues with our guest speakers Ammon Cheskin of the University of Glasgow, Dr Aurélien Mondon, lecturer in French Studies at the University of Bath, Fabian Virchow – NYU Global Scholars Program Visitor Professor.
Read more: http://english.ruvr.ru/radio_broadcast/25298789/215216456/