Bon débarras, Le Pen!


The French far-right party Front National, led by the Archie Bunker of Brittany, Jean-Marie Le Pen, suffered a humiliating electoral defeat during the Sunday's of legislative elections. From the (UK) Telegraph :

The days of Jean-Marie Le Pen as a force in French politics appeared to be over yesterday after his far-Right party received its worst drubbing in 25 years in the first round of legislative elections on Sunday.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been a major political figure in France, has seen his support eroded by Nicolas Sarkozy. The National Front won just 4.3 per cent of the vote, down from 10.44 per cent in 2002.

In France, political parties are (naturally) funded by the state, provided they maintain a measure of popular support. So Sunday's elections were especially bad news for extremists on both ends of the political spectrum:

The party is also facing financial ruin, as its poor parliamentary score means the annual £3.1 million state funding it has received over the past five years will be cut by two thirds. The Communist Party is also facing financial difficulties, and is expected to drop from 21 parliamentary seats to between six and 12.

But as is often the case in Europe, these extremes are not, in fact, too far apart. As the Telegraph mentions, an internal struggle is taking place for the soul of the party, with Le Pen's daughter Marine attempting to reestablish Front National as a promoter of "'Left-wing' national popularism." This is an increasingly common position amongst Europe's radical-right parties. The "post-fascist" (read: neo-Nazi) NPD in Germany routinely rails against globalization, American imperialism and supports a robust welfare state (with racist exceptions, naturally). It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the party has attracted former Baader-Meinhof adherents Klaus Rainer Röhl (ex-husband of terrorist Ulrike Meinhof) and Horst Mahler. Germany's far-right newspaper Junge Freiheit hawks books by Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein and t-shirts bearing the slogan "revolutionary, socialist, activist."

The same is true for Sweden's extremist parties, who agressively support the "Swedish model." The current top story on the website of the far-right Sweden Democrats website demands, bizarrely, "less multiculturalism, more care for the elderly and less crime!" And so on.

In 2005, Michael Young discussed Le Pen's persistent legal troubles and "France's misguided effort to legislate values."