So far, when people asked me about the French presidential elections, I have always answered that whosoever won the Republican primary on 27 November, was likely to become the next French president. In this sentence, the keyword is “so far”. Donald J. Trump’s victory has created a whole new situation, at least mentally. Marine Le Pen’s presidential chances have considerably increased over a period of a few hours, regardless of what the actual surveys show.
Without any analytical talent, we can say that Donald Trump was not elected president because of his ability to tell the truth or his meticulous program (by the way, Politifact.com offers a very informative summary about Trump’s relationship to the truth).
The 2017 French election may not be decided on programs or facts either. The same feelings and emotions that helped the New York billionaire to the Oval Office will also influence the Élysée decision. What are these feelings and emotions? Anger, despair, the need for novelty, cleanliness and a firm hand: these feelings torture the French white lower middle class just as much as the American lower middle class.
Anyone who can make people believe that they have an answer to these feelings, emotions and fears, will be the shoo-in, regardless of the facts. (And I believe that Trump’s victory may redraw the balance of power within the Republican primary, too, but that is another story.)
Trump’s victory may help the National Front to convince the French that Marine Le Pen’s is a realistic alternative, because her chance to win is realistic: you can vote as your heart wishes you to, no matter what you hear in the media or from politicians, you votes will not be lost votes. Trump’s message to the French distressed is that nothing is unrealistic. The most unlikely candidate can win if enough people want it. And the National Front can only count on this one thing: “enough people”, because the party has no elite support whatsoever.
Do not underestimate this potential mental shift! Do not assume that the “Republican Front” of the two major parties is unbreakable! It is not. I have written and said many times before that if Marine Le Pen is someday French president, it will be because the folk wisdom says that it is impossible. Yes, Marine Le Pen – i.e. the National Front candidate – can be president. And I am convinced that sooner or later she will be.
But today, on 9 November 2016, I’m just saying that “President Marine Le Pen” sounds, at this very moment, more likely than ever before in French history.
The National Front was not accidentally among the first to celebrate Trump’s triumph. Florian Philippot, vice-president of the FN, posted the following message on Twitter, accompanied by Marine Le Pen’s photo: ‘Their world is collapsing. Ours is being built’. The FN understands perfectly what just happened.
(Source of featured image: pixabay.com)