The French elections are set for April 23, 2017. This, like so many elections of this last election cycle throughout the world, is a fulcrum point in history. For Western countries in particular the most recent round of elections will determine the survival of Western civilization. This was true of Britain with its Brexit vote. It was true of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency.
So too will it be true of the French election.
In 2017, the real battle in France’s election will be fought between the “Alt-Right” candidate, Marine Le Pen and her National Front party versus the more traditional conservative candidate, François Fillon.
Since at least the 1970s, the Western world has seen a horrific contraction of its population. Fertility rates throughout the West–specifically in Western Europe–have plummeted. Automation, globalization, and other internationalist policies have helped to exacerbate this trend.
In and of themselves, these trends are not necessarily bad. But, taken together, along with the stifling Statist policies of most European governments (as Mark Steyn detailed in his phenomenal 2007 book, “America Alone”) these trends have combined to form a toxic brew of self-destruction. Throw in the open borders policy of the European Union and you’ve got yourself a ticking time bomb set to detonate any day now.
Until recently, European decline was an accepted fact. In the United States, most policymakers lamented the lack of commitment from many NATO countries to continue adequately funding the endeavor. In Europe, meanwhile, at the same time the declining (and aging) native population accepted greater sums of social welfare policies, the home governments increasingly turned to North Africa, the Middle East, and even South Asia to revitalize their ailing native populations.
Yet, as Walter Laqueur illustrated in his book, “The Last Days of Europe,” this policy was morally bankrupt: at the same time European states (like France) encouraged immigration from quite dissimilar cultures, they did very little to assimilate these subgroups into the larger European culture (also see this book and this book). Indeed, the progressive policies of most European states discouraged most attempts at integration.
The influx of younger, generally poor, mostly Muslim immigrants into places like France did little to the economy. In fact, native pushback against the immigrants was visceral. In many cases, native-born people feared that their jobs were about to be replaced by low-wage, foreign-born workers (they also feared the cultural implications of such policies). Meanwhile, the immigrants gladly joined the already overburdened entitlement programs, placing significant strain on the system.
All of this has compounded into a balkanization of European states like France. Today, there are large parts of Paris, once one of the bastions of Western Civilization, where neither police nor French women dare to tread. These purported “No-Go Zones” have become the source of much of the Jihadist violence that currently plagues France. It is from these distinct enclaves that attackers swearing fealty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham have found refuge.
This is why, also, Paris has been under martial law for the last year. Think about that: the capital of France–the poster child of progressive European social democracy–is an essentially occupied territory. Its military and police forces must protect a majority of the city’s denizens from a small, dispersed group of immigrants who refuse to integrate. Such foreign radicals aim to overthrow the French system and replace it with an Islamist government.
For years, the Le Pen family has represented an alternative voice for the generally cosmopolitan French Right. For most of that time, the Le Pens and their National Front Party were nothing more than a fringe element in French politics. The French Conservatives were the dominant voice.
These mainstream French conservatives, not unlike the “Never Trump” Republicans in the United States, or the “Bremain” Tories (such as former British Prime Minister David Cameron), shared much in common with the Left-wing parties in their respective countries. These conservatives generally favored globalist policies, such as Free Trade. They unquestioningly supported the European Union and the free flow of people throughout Europe. Such cosmopolitan conservatives neglected to identify the cultural rot that was consuming France and the rest of Europe, courtesy of the Left-wing and its globalist policies.
Meanwhile, the French people, whether under Jacques Chirac, Nikolas Sarkozy, or François Hollande, continued to suffer.
Since the First World War, France has limped through history. Having watched its best and brightest massacred on the killing fields of Word War I, the French strove to assert its dominance abroad in the Interwar years even as its citizens wanted little to do with foreign intervention (better build a giant wall, the Maginot Line, and block the rest of the world out, yes?).
After the Second World War, the colonial empire that France had spent centuries assiduously building throughout much of what is today the Developing World were systematically broken apart.
In an attempt to remain relevant in the bipolar Cold War dynamic, Charles de Gaulle, leader of France, along with the Germans, created the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). In so doing, the French desired to do through multilateralism what they could no longer unilaterally achieve: increasing France’s international power and prestige. France even secretly acquired their own nuclear arsenal. Soon, France would find itself constantly undermining the United States diplomatically as a means of elevating their own standing on the international stage (this was most evident during the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War).
Despite this, however, the French economy was the continual sore spot for French leaders. Unable to abandon the social component of their social democracy, the French have maintained a high degree of onerous taxes and burdensome regulations. These regulations and taxes stunt economic development and employment opportunities in their country. It should be no surprise that, even before the 2008 Great Recession, overall unemployment levels for the European Union hovered at around 10% (most economists say an unemployment rate of 5% or less equates to a good economy). France led the pack with an average of 10% unemployment rate for years.
Now, in the pending 2017 elections, all of these trends are working in Marine Le Pen’s favor. Whereas she and her party were once a fringe element, they have now been mainstreamed. This has been in larger part due to the failures of the EU and, more importantly, the crisis of Jihadist violence within France.
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Paris cafe attacks, the people of France are weary of their future. Many French voters have become skeptical of the Leftist social experimentation of the so-called “Eurocrats” (who generally make policy in France and the larger European Union). Like Brexit and the rise of the Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) in Germany, the French people are making an abrupt Right turn in their politics.
Le Pen’s only serious rival is a man of the more mainstream Right-wing: François Fillon. Fillon is an otherwise decent and smart man who has served his party and country well. He was formerly Prime Minster of France under President Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr. Fillon did excellent service to France in that role. But, his cosmopolitanism will be his undoing.
Personally, I find his Free Market ideals to be a refreshing change for the economic policies that most French politicians support–either of the Left or the Right. Unfortunately for Fillon, his commitment to Free Trade and, more importantly, the European Union’s open borders policy will be his undoing. For, Le Pen has pledged to defend France’s generous welfare system which has given her a decisive advantage over her conservative rival. Also, Fillon’s perceived atheism is a problem (although in recent days, he has apparently sought to trumpet his Catholic upbringing).
Think about it this way: the French people have never really supported Free Market Capitalism in the way that either the United States or United Kingdom have. Traditionally, they’ve opposed decentralization and encouraged an extreme amount (by U.S. standards) of government regulations.
With the rise of the Jihadist threat within France due to the open borders policy, many French citizens are turning to Le Pen’s skepticism of immigration whilst seeking to distance France from the EU’s commitment to the free flow of people. As this occurs, many French are looking to Le Pen’s cultural politics. Le Pen’s devout Catholicism is endearing to many French voters. Such a turn is shocking to many observers due to the fact that, for decades, France had apparently lost touch with its Catholic roots.
Yet, with the advent of Jihadism within France, many French voters are turning to the Good Book again. Le Pen’s lifelong support of Catholicism in France has given her a natural edge over Fillon’s purported atheism. This, coupled with Le Pen’s outspoken French nationalist policies has given her the vital edge in the impending elections.
That is why I believe that her chances of winning are far greater than Fillon’s. Fillon will have to pull all of the proverbial stops out if he wants to try and win this election. But, as both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton proved in the U.S. election: all of the money and elite support in the world will not stop a massive populist movement on election day.
If the 2016-17 election cycle is the year of the populist, then I suspect that Marine Le Pen will be just the next (of many) beneficiaries of this windfall.
Get ready, France: Marine Le Pen is likely your next leader!