In a few short weeks the next great battle of globalism vs nationalism will begin. On the 23rd April, France goes to the polls to vote for the next President of one of the most powerful Republics on the planet. If no candidate wins a majority, there will be a further run off vote on the 7th May. Looking at current polling, we will almost certainly see a battle including infamous nationalist; Marine Le Pen. Marine’s Party; Front National, has long been described as Far Right. A closer examination of its policies though, marks it as fiscally centrist or even centre-left. This raises the question is she an enemy of the liberal left at all? Or only progressives and globalists? Should the Alt-left support her?
(Marine Le Pen: leader of Front National – BBC News, 2015)
For a so called Far-right party, Front National is surprisingly protectionist. In an attempt to win over left wing voters, Marine has swung her party firmly to the economic centre. FN has spoken out strongly against global capitalism undermining the jobs of French industry and the French working class. Marine has also spoken in favour of extra taxes on corporations and immigrant workers in order to bolster the French welfare state. In order to keep the support of FN’s traditional right wing vote though, small and mid-sized French companies will be exempt from many of these taxes.
The National Front has famously had a mixed past accepting progressive and liberal values. This mainly comes from the heritage of previous leader; Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s estranged father. Jean-Marie is a controversial figure for good reason, associating with monarchists and fascists, even making light of the holocaust on one occasion. Marine has since thrown her own father out of the party for his views but the shadow remains. FN were slow to accept gay rights such as Equal marriage and adoption. They have also supported further powers being given to the police and security agencies and a dramatic increase in French traditional and National values. On the other hand, many have noted a flood of LGBT support of Marine’s campaign possibly due to her standing up for their rights against the religious conservatism of the Islamic Community. In fact, Le Pen has spoken out in favour of secularism across the board, supporting a ban on all religious symbols in the work place and wanting to limit the power of faith schools, both Christian and Muslim.
Islam and Immigration
One of the most widely shown moments of this election campaign was when Le Pen refused to go through with a planned visit to a mosque after being told that she would have to wear a hijab on entry. This sums up FN’s policy on Islam perfectly: hard line. Le Pen has long pointed at France’s Islamic community, its conservative values and slow integration as one of the major problems effecting French society. The slew of large scale Islamist terror attacks; often from home grown terrorists, has helped back up this argument to a large section of the French public. Le Pen also supports the control of immigration into France stating in a BBC interview “We cannot take in all the poverty of the world…our first obligation is to protect the French people.” Of course the French government can control immigration from outside Europe directly into France, but for its land borders this is a bit difficult, leading to the next point…
(Le Pen in the European Parliament – BBC News, 2014)
The European Union
Front National has long been a loud opponent of the EU. Marine is strongly for following the United Kingdom into holding a referendum on EU membership, citing that France must remain sovereign and its people in control of their own destiny. FN would also have France leave the Euro currency and the free movement Schengen Area. It is in this area lies the largest of all of FN’s issues. Unlike the UK, France was a founding member and is to this day an integral pillar of the EU. Many believe that France’s exit from the union will cause it to collapse. Whether this is a good thing or not rests heavily on whether you see the EU as a force for good or bad in Europe.
So what other candidates are there for Alt-leftists to support? Macron is looking to be the main opponent for Le Pen, at least in the polls. As the leading centrist candidate, Macron has seen the establishment from both the centre left and centre right start to abandon their parties and flock to him. As someone who started off as an anti-establishment candidate, this has done a lot to dampen that image. Many on the left would instead turn to Mélenchon, an independent leftist who has recently overtaken the Socialist candidate: Hamon, in the polls. He is a soft Eurosceptic but much softer on the topic of Islam. Hamon himself has been called ‘The French Bernie Sanders’, agreeing with Mélenchon on a great many things but fundamentally disagreeing with him on the EU, very much supporting it.
(Emmanuel Macron: Le Pen’s biggest competition – BBC News, 2017)
The Alt Left is a movement as fluid as it is diverse. And for me to offer advice to anyone who identifies as it, on who to support would be both stupid and irrelevant. I will offer this though: Marine is economically centrist or centre left, she’s against the political elite and political correctness, she’s against Islam in its current form. All of which are points that chime with the Alt-Left. FN however has had history, some of it recent, with illiberal and authoritarian values. Her election may also bring about the end of the European Project. Any of these could be sticking points that turn you off Le Pen, or they may not. All I ask is you choose your horse carefully, for on the 8th May, the sun may rise on a changed Europe.