And the next is France

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Marine Le Pen has two weeks left to try her miracle. The polls predict a defeat against Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the French presidential election in May 7th. The different polls are showing a clear victory of her rival, around 62% against 38%. Macron seems bounded to be the next president of France without even being politically defined. He has no political party to speak of and has never held elected office, but he is one of the front-runners for the French presidency. There is something wondrous about Macron. Nothing important of what is known about him seems strictly aligned in the life’ symmetry. Both candidates are outside the traditional French political paradigm for the first time since World War II. They do not belong to the traditional parties which have formed government since then, neither are Republicans nor Social-Democrats. The Social-Democrat withdrawal is another worrying issue to be analysed at another moment and not only in France, but throughout Europe.

Marine Le Pen is a woman with many edges: to get a glimpse about her, I must refer to a statement she made before the elections, 12 days before the first round, about the Velodrome raid, known in all the history books as ‘La Rafle du Vél d’Hiv’, and which have been very poorly matched by French public opinion but above all, outside France: she denied the responsibility of France, its rulers, its police, its diplomacy and security services in the most famous of the raids of Jews to be deported in the Second World War, one of the most unearthing sinister national ghosts. To understand these statements, it is necessary to place them in a very French context, the difficulty with which France has managed the idealization of the French Resistance, the omission of the collaborationism and, ultimately, all the events derived from the Nazi occupation, from Vichy and De Gaulle’s appeal of June 18th, when France split into two halves which disputed the official legitimacy. The fact was that most of the population were indifferent, or collaborating with the Vichy regime. These are old stories, truly. In fact, Le Pen’s reflection, although dishonest, is typically Gaullist, characteristic of the foundational Gaullism, when the General, forced by the task of building a new republic over the rubble, resentments and defeats of the previous one, exaggerated the narrative about the good resistant French people and attributed them the moral purity necessary to enhance the pride of belonging. Le Pen’s reflection is an anachronism without historical foundation or justification in which a hypothetical France is invented and did not exist, but she would recreate if she finally wins the Presidency.

On the other hand, it is her recent visit to the Kremlin: when the Russian President Vladimir Putin sat at the table with the French right-wing candidate, and he broke the Slav antifascist icon’ suit. What the Cold War divided, is being united by the jihadist attacks, as well as the yearning of Putin and Le Pen to see a divided Europe. Le Pen has officially become the favourite candidate for the Kremlin. Her party FN received a $9 million loan from the Moscow-based First Czech-Russian Bank, while all the European entities turned their backs on her. The National Front (FN) always opposed those sanctions against Russia for its interference in Ukraine. Moscow regrets the ills that affect the EU, but the side effects of the NF are the best ones for Russia. Le Pen is sceptical about NATO and has promised a referendum on France’s presence inside the EU. The same as all populist proposal, nothing new. A ‘Frexit’ would disrupt the political power of the EU. Perhaps that is why the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, defined Le Pen as “realistic, or anti-globalist” a compliment extended to Donald Trump, and to all the club members as well. Anti-EU, anti-Euro, anti-NATO, against the elites, against the finances world, pro- nationalizations, against the international trade liberalization agreements… Looking to paragraphs of the populist formations programs, many voters would not be able to differentiate them or which country are these referring to.

Marine Le Pen has fifteen days left to capture all those pissed off French. She already has the slogan for the second round: “I am the candidate of the people“. Nothing original and typically populist. She also knows that she must go all out and intensify her attacks against Macron: ‘the people’s candidate’ against the favourite of finance, banks, CAC 40, the press, the ‘establishment’ … The head of the FN cannot surrender yet without trying another ‘Trump effect’. The FN has won more than seven million votes in the first round. It is the party that has the strongest voters base. Volatility is not a disease which might affect to Le Pen.

For Marine, as she likes to be called, the confrontation with Macron will oppose with well-differentiated arguments: nation against European Union; Protection against liberalism; Patriotism against internationalism; Identity versus diversity; ‘The people’ against the elites. Like Donald Trump, the leader of the National Front (FN) has found the perfect channel to reach the public, to transmit her messages and political slogans and, at the same time, to avoid the criticisms and attacks from many newspapers and TV channels. Her secret weapon are the social networks. The traditional media, also in the very civic and cultured France, face a growing discredit.

The traditional right and left old and mangy, of Fillon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, this time have remained outside. They have been sharing the representation of a melancholic citizenship who denies the risk, the doubt and the frictions of an open society. Le Pen thinks she’s something else, something fresh and new. Those disenchanted, pouting voters, is what FN can aspire to. But Marine Le Pen may have exhausted the adhesion voting in the first round. Neither the ‘Trump effect’ nor Putin’s moral help, seems sufficient to defeat Emmanuel Macron. The destruction of the old political paradigm has just begun and, of course, renewal will not be easy.

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