I got a laugh out of this headline from Agence-France Presse:
Mainstream Baffled As French Turn To Far Right
France’s mainstream political parties were Monday scratching their heads over what to do about a surge by the Front National (FN) after a breakthrough by-election win for the far-right party.
The ruling Socialist party and the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, face humiliating reverses in municipal and European elections next year if the FN can sustain its current standing in the eyes of an electorate thoroughly fed-up with record unemployment, rising taxes and a perceived increase in crime and insecurity.
Marine Le Pen’s Front National won the by election with 53.9 per cent of the vote, which is to say they were significantly more populaire than M. Sarkozy’s supposed Mouvement Populaire. In the latest polls for the European Parliament, for the first time ever, they’re the most popular political party in France, pipping the Tweedlegauche and Tweedledroit of the “mainstream” parties. The “far right” may be nearer than you think.
To reprise and Frenchify what I wrote a few years back: Mme Le Pen’s winning candidate is the “extreme” “far right” “fringe” of French politics, but the parties that got fewer votes from actual French people are somehow ”mainstream” — and always will be, no matter how non-populaire they get. This kind of metropolitan myopia and democratic disdain have helped bring France to this moment.