Dédiabolisation?

by Andrew Stuttaford

Well, France’s “far right” (to use the shorthand) National Front won that local election (in Brignoles) with some 54 percent of the vote (Mark Steyn talks about it here).

The Daily Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard puts it this way:

A party committed to withdrawal from the euro, the restoration of French franc, and the complete destruction of monetary union has just defeated the establishment in the Brignoles run-off election.

Evans-Pritchard discusses recent polls (I posted about them on the Corner here) highlighting the rise of the FN and  concludes that it is now “highly likely” that the party will “sweep” the French slice of the European elections in May. It’s too early to say that, I reckon, but, if it does, the FN is unlikely to be the only euroskeptic party to do well.

That’s a prospect that alarms France’s sinister (75percent tax rates, “hates” rich people, etc,) President Hollande. He has warned (the Guardian reports) that Europe risks “regression and paralysis”. What that term really means is putting a stop to ever closer union, but the thought that this might be exactly what the voters, quite rightly, want appears to leave this arrogant apparatchik indifferent.

The whole of Evans-Pritchard’s piece is (as so often) well worth reading, but it is his discussion of the leftist attributes of the “far right” FN that may merit the most attention:

The Front has been scoring highest in core Socialist cantons, clear evidence that it is breaking out of its Right-wing enclaves to become the mass movement of the white working class. Hence the new term in the French press “Left-Le-Penism”. She is outflanking the Socialists with attacks on banks and cross-border capitalism. The party recently recruited Anna Rosso-Roig, a candidate for the Communists in the 2012 elections…. Marine Le Pen is an ardent defender of the French welfare model. Her critique of capitalism gives her a Leftist hue…. She fulminates against Washington and Nato, calling for France to retake its place as “non-aligned” voice in a multipolar world, and lashing out at the Gaulliste UMP for selling its soul to Europe and the Anglo-Saxon order. “There was a de Gaulle of the Left, and a de Gaulle of the Right. There were two de Gaulles. We stand for both,” she said.

Evans-Pritchard concludes:

The worst fears of the EU elites are starting to come true. It is entirely their own fault.

True enough.  But it  remains to be seen whether the FN’s recent success represents ‘peak disaffection’, and if it is, in a sense, a lagging indicator. After all, we can expect the establishment parties to push back hard and that, plus signs of some sort of economic recovery, however pitiful, might be enough to  persuade enough French voters to return to the establishment fold.

Maybe.