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Le Pen Daughter’s Win: “We’ll Decide …”

  • January 17th, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

lepen-2.jpgCOMMENTARY: Marine Le Pen (picture) has comfortably won a ballot for President of France’s right-wing National Front, announced at its conference in Tours (16.1.11).

DECISION ON A NEW LEADER

migration-eu-boatpeople.JPG

She was seen as the obvious choice of the founder of the movement, her father, the ex-commando Jean-Marie Le Pen, 82, who established a solid following for it by mobilising sentiment against immigration.

He achieved 15% at elections in 1988 against President Francois Mitterrand, making the migration issue a key to that contest, Mitterrand going to a run-off against the conservative Jacques Chirac, but the National Front keeping the same bloc of support ever since.

In 2002 Le Pen got to the second round, displacing the then-unpopular and disunited Socialist party, to enjoy a prestigious though very unsuccessful contest against Mr Chirac (by then President, from 1995 to 2007).

DECIDING IN AUSTRALIA

Coincidentally in Australia at that time the centre-right Liberals had been under pressure to steal the clothes from a similar anti-migration formation got up under the leadership of a rightist independent MP, Pauline Hanson.

In December 2001 John Howard, Prime Minister of the day, sealed off boat-people entry in the lead-up to elections at the end of 2001, pending an arrangement to process applicants for asylum at camps on remote islands – in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

In the end virtually all of the contentious applications succeeded, but the manoeuvre, and rhetoric drew votes back to the government, which won the elections, and before long destroyed the Hanson movement.

“We’ll decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”, Howard had declared.

DECIDING THE VOTE IN 2012

Marine Le Pen, 42, now has the option in France of drawing off votes from the centre-right UMP party of the President Nicolas Sarkozy, current opinion polls indicating 17% support if she contests the presidency next year, and a rupture of support for the President.

The UMP has the option of taking the bait and, nothing very new, getting into more radical garb.

Tension over immigration and related campaigns against “Islamisation” have given an issue to the extreme right wing in a list of European countries, with the election of several members to national parliaments, most recently in Denmark, The Netherlands and Sweden.

Ms Le Pen herself is a symbol of the “legitimising” of the radical right once dismissed as a fascist fringe; a lawyer, a double-divorcee not wedded to rigid “family” values championed by her father, and an elected Member of the European Parliament.

“We will decide for ourselves what is good for France”, she said on Sunday, declaring also, France “will not be a caliphate”.

As with the American Republicans’ “tea party” lobby, and the erstwhile Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, messages have been modernised to remove various crude old simplicities of political thought.

Marine Le Pen’s election pushed aside pretenders to the leadership from her father’s generation.

The overall idea yet holds on to the view of Europe of 2000 years ago, as a stable and prosperous land of fertile soils, with half the known outside world trying to get it.

She is still accused of racialist incitement at the core of the war against immigration (with a possible court indictment for that offence), and relies on conservative stand-bys like rejection of participation in the European Union.

At the same time she has updated class-based rhetoric to calls for reigning in the “super rich”, and objects to demands from “anti-libertarian” minorities.

Reference

The Irish Independent, Dublin, “Right-wing daughter of Le Pen poses threat to Sarkozy”, 15.1.11.
http://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/rightwing-daughter-of-le-pen-poses-threat-to-sarkozy-2497156.html, (17.1.11).

Roland Lloyd Parry, “Le Pen daughter inherits French far-right leadership”, AFP, Paris, 17.1.11.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jx-dd-QG_Bo1zVvdoyQRhwdziD9g?docId=CNG.28b4bf54f914164b2de534fba28c2a3e.621, (17.1.11).

Picture wikipedia

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