Sides of the Story: The French Presidential election

Facts of the matter

Sarkozy has been left in second place by Francois
Hollande; Mechelon, a borderline Stalinist,
who campaigned on a promise of a revolution
to rival the uprisings of not just 1968 but
1789, failed to breach the 10% mark. The main
story of the campaign was the record-breaking
pile of votes scooped up by far right parties. A
grim 1 in 5 votes went to the National Front,
a gang of maghreb-bashing loons who have
spruced themselves up with a metropolitan
sheen under new leader Marine Le Pen. British
coverage of the election has been drawn to the
National Front, if only because they’re the only
political bloc who aren’t miserably depressed
about the entire business. The Guardian interviewed
dozens of French voters about the
election, and managed to coax no more of an
assessment than ‘well, I voted’ from a fair few;
the only motivation for leaving the house to
vote seems to have been the chance to express
total contempt for Sarkozy as a person, a sentiment
that appears to be the only thing holding
the country together.
Tim Stanley, writing in a great column for the
Telegraph, says that Sarkozy’s desperate groping
for right-wing votes has allowed Le Pen
to strut the political stage like a sane, mainstream
candidate, casually ‘lighting her Gauloise
with a burning Koran’ as she goes. The president’s
campaigns against burkhas and gypsies
‘have detoxified talk of French civilisation and
barbarian invasions, allowing people to vote
for the Front National without any sense of
shame’. He warns against liberal overreaction,
however, and dismisses Le Pen as a ‘race-baiting
opportunist’ who will sink back into the bitter
sidelines of French politics within months, like
her father before her.
He makes good points; The National Front will
never become a real fascist movement, too wedded
to media spectacle and one-day protests to
be anything more than a protest vote.
The Mail dove headfirst through the looking
glass this week and endorsed the National
Front, for essentially no reason beyond the fact
that they are anti-EU, and warned that this may
be the last French election before the Eurocracy
dissolves the French state. Also, Le Pen has
made adequate efforts to ‘regulate the political
instincts of her party’ and move on from the
past (apparently).
Sure, Le Pen hasn’t called for immigrants to be
driven with sticks and torches into the Mediterranean,
but only because she knows she
doesn’t have to. Voters know what the National
Front stands for, and can tell what Le Pen is ‘really
thinking’ when they listen to her sanitised
lectures on ‘French civilisation’. Still, even the
Mail has the wit not to try to make everything
EU-centric, noting sagely that ‘Carla Bruni has
had so much Botox she looks like a chipmunk’.

Sarkozy has been left in second place by Francois Hollande; Mechelon, a borderline Stalinist,who campaigned on a promise of a revolution to rival the uprisings of not just 1968 but 1789, failed to breach the 10% mark. The mainstory of the campaign was the record-breaking pile of votes scooped up by far right parties. Agrim 1 in 5 votes went to the National Front, a gang of maghreb-bashing loons who have spruced themselves up with a metropolitan sheen under new leader Marine Le Pen. British coverage of the election has been drawn to the National Front, if only because they’re the only political bloc who aren’t miserably depressed about the entire business. The Guardian interviewed dozens of French voters about the election, and managed to coax no more of an assessment than ‘well, I voted’ from a fair few; the only motivation for leaving the house to vote seems to have been the chance to express total contempt for Sarkozy as a person, a sentiment that appears to be the only thing holding the country together.

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Print it on gold

Tim Stanley, writing in a great column for the Telegraph, says that Sarkozy’s desperate groping for right-wing votes has allowed Le Pento to strut the political stage like a sane, mainstream candidate, casually ‘lighting her Gauloise with a burning Koran’ as she goes. The president’s campaigns against burkhas and gypsies ‘have detoxified talk of French civilisation and barbarian invasions, allowing people to vote for the Front National without any sense of shame’. He warns against liberal overreaction, however, and dismisses Le Pen as a ‘race-baiting opportunist’ who will sink back into the bitter sidelines of French politics within months, like her father before her. He makes good points; The National Front will never become a real fascist movement, too wedded to media spectacle and one-day protests to be anything more than a protest vote.

Wouldn’t wrap chips in it

The Mail dove headfirst through the looking glass this week and endorsed the National Front, for essentially no reason beyond the fact that they are anti-EU, and warned that this may be the last French election before the Eurocracy dissolves the French state. Also, Le Pen has made adequate efforts to ‘regulate the political instincts of her party’ and move on from the past (apparently). Sure, Le Pen hasn’t called for immigrants to be driven with sticks and torches into the Mediterranean, but only because she knows she doesn’t have to. Voters know what the National Front stands for, and can tell what Le Pen is ‘really thinking’ when they listen to her sanitised lectures on ‘French civilisation’. Still, even the Mail has the wit not to try to make everything EU-centric, noting sagely that ‘Carla Bruni has had so much Botox she looks like a chipmunk’.