Le Pen’s RN wins control of Perpignan

Louis Aliot, RN winner in the Mediterranean city of Perpignan

For the first time since 2001, the main French nationalist and anti-immigration party has won control of a city with a population of more than 100,000. (click here for detailed results)

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) won Sunday’s second-round election in Perpignan, a city of 120,000 inhabitants on the Mediterranean coast, very close to the French border with Spain. Under its previous name National Front (FN) – led by Mme Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen – the party controlled the slightly larger city of Toulon from 1997 to 2001.

Today was the second round in local elections across France, long delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic since the first round in March.

French local elections are carried out over two rounds, with voters choosing among party lists: the head of the winning list becomes mayor. The 35,000 local councils involved range from tiny villages to enormous cities, three of which (Paris, Lyon and Marseille) are also broken down into districts known as arrondissements with their own councils.

In Perpignan the RN slate headed by Louis Aliot defeated an alliance of conservative parties in the second round. Various defeated leftist, centrist and green parties had been knocked out in the first round and tried to urge their voters to back the conservatives to block the ‘fascist’ RN.

The half-Jewish M. Aliot was a leading official of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s FN, and is a Vice-President of the RN under Marine Le Pen. He had been a regional councillor in the Pyrénées-Orientales département (whose capital is Perpignan) since 2010.

Ludovic Pajot (above right) 26-year-old newly elected RN mayor of Bruay-la-Buissière

In other early results, the FN retained control of the northern town of Hénin-Beaumont and gained nearby Bruay-la-Buissière. Both are former coal mining towns of about 25,000 inhabitants, and are part of the Pas de Calais region that has become the main power base for Marine Le Pen.H&D will report on the full results tomorrow and analyse the implications for Mme Le Pen’s chances of eventually taking power in France.

A more detailed H&D analysis of the French elections is online here

Meanwhile today also saw the first round of Poland’s presidential election, where the populist-conservative incumbent President Andrzej Duda has qualified for the second round run-off, with exit polls showing he has won 41.8% of the vote against the pro-EU, centre-right candidate Rafał Trzaskowski.

A so-called ‘far right’ presidential candidate Krzysztof Bosak seems to have polled just over 7%. He represented a coalition of right-wing parties, some of which are relatively pro-Moscow.

Mixed results for RN in French elections

For the 2020 local elections the anti-immigration RN headed by Marine Le Pen (above right) formed joint slates with the much smaller eurosceptic party headed by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (above left)

On Sunday 28th June French local government elections held their decisive second round, postponed for more than three months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

These elections were for more than 35,000 communes across France, ranging from tiny villages to giant cities. The three largest cities (Paris, Lyon and Marseilles) also elect councillors and mayors in their various districts known as arrondissements. There are also regional councils known as départements, but these departmental elections (once known as cantonal elections) are held separately from the communes – most recently in 2015, and next due in 2021.

Similarly the mayors and councillors in the communes are elected to six-year terms, so the positions elected on Sunday were last elected in 2014.

In those days Marine Le Pen’s party was called the Front National (National Front – FN); it was renamed Rassemblement National (National Rally – RN) in 2018.

Six years ago the FN won 1,438 councillors spread across 463 communes. After this week’s second round the RN’s councillor total was down to 840, spread across 258 communes.

Despite this patchy performance, one headline result was very positive news for Marine Le Pen. Louis Aliot (who was Mme Le Pen’s domestic partner for a decade until last year) is the new Mayor of Perpignan, after his RN slate won the second round with 53.1% against 46.9% for his conservative opponent.

This is the first time in almost twenty years that the RN or FN has controlled a city with a population of more than 100,000. From 1997 to 2001 the FN controlled Toulon, a slightly larger city further along the Mediterranean coast.

Steeve Briois (above left) was re-elected Mayor of the RN stronghold Hénin-Beaumont after the first round of local elections in March

Aside from Perpignan, the other communes won by the RN this year are relatively small towns. Six of these had already been won on the first round in March, by the RN polling more than 50%.

All of these were communes that the FN/RN had already controlled since 2014:

  • the Mediterranean port of Fréjus; first round RN vote 50.6%, population 52,672
  • the Avignon suburb of Le Pontet; first round RN vote 57.2%, population 17,530
  • Beaucaire, a small town in the Rhône Valley ten miles south-west of Avignon; first round RN vote 59.5%, population 15,963
  • Villers-Cotterêts, a small town fifty miles north of Paris; first round RN vote 53.5%, population 10,872
  • Hayange, an ancient iron manufacturing town in the Lorraine region close to the Franco-German border; first round RN vote 63.1%, population 15,811
  • Hénin-Beaumont, a former coal mining town in the Pas de Calais region of northern France, and now the strongest nationalist area of France – very much the heartland of Marine Le Pen’s brand of populist nationalism; first round RN vote 74.2%, population 26,022

The three communes gained by the RN after Sunday’s second round were:

  • Perpignan, a city on the Mediterranean coast, very close to the Franco-Spanish border; RN second round vote 53.1%, population 120,158
  • Moissac, a small town in the Occitania region of southern France; RN second round vote 62.5%, population 13,039
  • Bruay-la-Buissière, a former coal mining town in the Pas de Calais, close to the existing RN stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont; RN second round vote 52.0%, population 21,831.

The bigger picture of last Sunday’s elections was a historically unprecedented win for the French green party EELV who gained control of several important cities including Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Besançon.

Stéphane Ravier, previously Mayor of a Marseilles arrondissement, was one of the RN’s high-profile defeats in Sunday’s second round, beaten by a conservative slate by a very tight 51-49 margin.

A joint slate of Greens, Communists and Socialists became the largest party grouping in Marseille, winning 38.3% in the second round ahead of a conservative coalition on 30.8%, the RN on 20.3%, and assorted dissident leftist and dissident conservative slates making up the remaining 10.2%.

After negotiations later this week a Green mayor is likely to take power in Marseille. The bad news for Marine Le Pen’s RN is that by a very tight margin their candidate Stéphane Ravier lost the mayoralty of the 13th-14th arrondissement of Marseilles. Under the old FN label he had won the mayoralty of the old 7th arrondissement in 2014 and had controlled the new 13th-14th after boundary changes in 2017.

On the bright side, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party suffered numerous defeats across the country. Opinion polls still suggest that the most likely second round in the next presidential election in 2022 will be between Macron and Marine Le Pen – and that Macron would again win such a contest, though by a closer margin than in 2017.

However Macron’s authority is steadily dribbling away. The challenge for Marine Le Pen’s party will now be to make a success of running Perpignan, make further gains in next year’s regional elections; and achieve the difficult balance between reassuring ‘mainstream’ voters that the nationalist right can be trusted, without disillusioning traditional nationalists whose support is still required to provide an activist base.

The danger is that purging ‘hardliners’ leads to an exodus of local government candidates and other activists, without inspiring an influx of new blood. Floating voters are all very well, but any party also needs a solid base of committed supporters.

Not much to celebrate: Macron in London for De Gaulle anniversary as French local elections approach

While many Britons still in the grip of the Covid-19 crisis tend to think France has by comparison done quite well, the French themselves increasingly despair of President Emmanuel Macron.

This neo-Blairite ‘centrist’ poseur was once a media favourite, but as with his Canadian equivalent Justin Trudeau, even the docile press have started to perceive his essential shallowness. Fine words about national unity sound increasingly fatuous when, as in the last few days, a city such as Dijon is gripped by race war between Chechen and Algerian gangs.

Gen. Charles de Gaulle (far right) in 1941 with (left to right) Polish exile Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski; Canadian Corps commander Gen. Andrew McNaughton; and Winston Churchill – who was later alleged to have ordered Sikorski’s assassionation (see articles in the two most recent editions of H&D).

This weekend Macron is in London for celebrations to mark the 80th anniversary of Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s declaration in 1940 that rallied a minority of Frenchmen in an anti-German alliance with Winston Churchill’s British Empire.

(Presumably statues of these ‘racist colonialists’ will be protected for long enough to avoid embarrassment!)

Meanwhile France is preparing for the long-delayed second round of municipal elections being held in most of the country in nine days time (28th June). The first round was held way back on 15th March, but the second had to be postponed for three months due to the Covid-19 crisis.

These elections are in 35,000 communes across France, ranging from tiny villages to big cities. The three biggest cities – Paris, Lyon and Marseille – also have elections for arrondissements, roughly the equivalent of London boroughs, as well as city-wide councils.

Those communes with more than 1,000 electors vote on a two-round party list system, with the head of the winning list becoming mayor. To qualify for the second round a party list must poll above 10% in the first, but parties polling above 5% can negotiate to merge their lists with larger parties in advance of the second round, allowing many opportunities for horse-trading.

Serge Federbusch, the half-Hungarian, half-Algerian Jewish mayoral candidate in Paris for Marine Le Pen’s ‘far right’ National Rally (RN)

So in Paris for example, the incumbent Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo looks certain to win after striking a deal with the Greens to form a joint second round slate. The conservative slate in the French capital is headed by Rachida Dati, a half Moroccan, half-Algerian woman who once served as a spokesman and minister for ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy. This conservative slate is headed for second place, while Macron’s ‘centrist’ slate, headed by yet another woman, is in third.

Greens polled very well across the country during the first round contests in March, which were also notable for very low turnouts due to both Covid-19 and general political disillusionment. For whatever reason these low turnouts seem to have contributed to quite poor results for the main French nationalist party, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN – formerly the National Front) as well as for the far left.

Le Pen’s RN – which traditionally struggles in these local elections because the two round system doesn’t suit ‘extremist’ parties – has been reduced to a small number of strongholds such as Hénin-Beaumont in the far north Pas de Calais region.

Despite forming a joint slate with the eurosceptic party Debout la France, the RN managed only 8,114 first round votes (1.5%) across the whole of Paris, where its mayoral candidate was ex-socialist Serge Federbusch, son of Hungarian and Algerian-Jewish communists. This was down from 42,560 votes (6.3%) in 2014.

However the good news for Le Pen (and perhaps also for the struggling President Macron) is that the conservative right is also failing. For example, the incumbent conservatives were beaten into second place by a green-socialist slate in Marseille.

Le Pen’s RN slate finished third in Marseille with 19.4% (having been runner-up with 23.2% at the previous elections in 2014), but whereas the greens, socialists, communists and all but one of the ultra-leftist factions have united for the second round, the conservatives still regard Le Pen’s movement as ‘beyond the pale’, so they will continue to oppose each other.

So long as there is no ‘mainstream’ conservative revival, Marine Le Pen is likely to qualify for the run-off in the next presidential election, either against Macron or some sort of socialist.

Marion Maréchal – niece of Marine Le Pen and granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen – might be the future of French nationalism.

One remaining question is whether Macron will run his full presidential term until 2022, or choose to call a ‘snap’ election this year and seek a fresh mandate post-Covid. Despite his unpopularity, this might prove his best bet due to a divided opposition, but the question then would be whether this election (in 2020 or 2022) is Marine Le Pen’s last shot.

The RN leader has made a lot of enemies with her efforts to purge the RN of traditional nationalist themes. An example of this could be seen this week, as Marine Le Pen sought in vain to be included in the ranks of mainstream politicians paying tribute to De Gaulle.

The next presidential campaign will be her third. Will she be allowed a fourth? Or will French nationalism once again head for realignment under a new leader, perhaps Marine Le Pen’s niece Marion Maréchal?

Slovak national-socialists gain seats

Slovak national socialist leader Marian Kotleba, whose party L’SNS gained seats in yesterday’s general election

The Slovak national socialist party People’s Party – Our Slovakia (L’SNS) led by Marian Kotleba gained three extra MPs in yesterday’s general election and is now the joint-third largest party in the Slovak Parliament with 17 seats.

Meanwhile the more ‘moderate’ Slovak National Party, which at the previous election in 2016 was slightly larger than L’SNS, was wiped out yesterday, falling from 8.6% to 3.2% and losing all of its 15 seats.

L’SNS polled exactly the same vote as four years ago, 8.0%, but it seems likely that a large slice of the former Slovak National Party vote went to a populist conservative party called ‘Ordinary People’, who were the big winners yesterday on an anti-corruption platform.

‘Ordinary People’ seems to be somewhere between the populist nationalism of Victor Orban and the more amorphous protest vote party typified by Italy’s Five Star Movement. Its leader has already said he will be prepared to enter coalition talks with any party except for the defeated government party – the corrupt socialists – and the beyond-the-pale ‘nazis’ of L’SNS.

In practice this means some sort of deal with the anti-immigration party ‘We are Family’, who have 17 seats, and with a libertarian, eurosceptic party ‘Freedom and Solidarity’ with 13 seats. The pro-EU liberal alliance ‘For the People’ backed by Slovakia’s president Zuzana Čaputová (who won a resounding victory hailed by the world’s liberal media as recently as 2019) was in sixth place with 12 seats, so would not be able to reach a working majority in alliance with ‘Ordinary People’.

UKIP fast disappearing, while populist independent wins by-election

A populist independent – boxing coach Ken Dobson – won a Manchester City Council by-election this week in Clayton & Openshaw, just west of the city centre. Mr Dobson becomes one of only four non-Labour members among 96 city councillors.

Independent Dobson won a majority of 108 over Labour’s African candidate. The Lib Dems also put up an African, and the Tory was Asian – so Mr Dobson and the Green were the only White candidates.

This Manchester upset contrasted with miserable results for two other ‘protest vote’ candidates yesterday.

UKIP’s Geoff Courtenay (above right) welcomes then party leader Richard Braine to a Hillingdon branch meeting

UKIP’s Geoff Courtenay polled only 16 (sixteen) votes (0.8%) in Hillingdon East ward, Hillingdon. He is an experienced UKIP candidate, and in fact stood here at the General Election against Prime Minister Boris Johnson last December. And this is a ward where UKIP polled 19.3% in 2014.

One really must wonder how long UKIP will carry on. Perhaps it will linger in the manner of the Social Democratic Party that was dissolved in 1988, but which kept going under the same name but a different structure under former Foreign Secretary Dr David Owen. Even this SDP was closed down in 1990, but a tiny band of supporters keep up the name to this day. Similarly, occasional eccentrics might still stand as UKIP candidates in future, though even that will require someone to keep filling in the forms and sending in accounts to the Electoral Commission, so total extinction within the next year or two might be more likely.

Former councillor Brian Silvester

Meanwhile an ex-UKIP councillor and frequent purveyor of social media outrage, Brian Silvester, was bottom of the poll with 34 votes (2.2%) as an independent candidate for Crewe South ward, Cheshire East. UKIP polled 14.8% in this ward in 2015. Since leaving UKIP, ex-Cllr Silvester spent a couple of years as a prominent ally of Anne Marie Waters in her For Britain Movement, then left to support the Brexit Party last summer.

Taken together, this week’s local government by-elections demonstrate both the continuing demand for a radical populist alternative to the established parties, and the continuing absence of a mass party answering that demand.

Sinn Féin wins Irish election and seeks far-left coalition

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald (above centre), the big winner of last week’s Irish general election, with IRA godfathers Gerry Adams and the late Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin – political wing of the terrorist IRA – has emerged as largest single-party from the Irish general election, and is now trying to forge a coalition with two leftwing partners – the Greens and the ultra-left party People Before Profit (whose origins in the Socialist Workers Party). It’s not yet clear whether PBP will bring along the other far left parties with whom it formed a joint slate in last week’s elections.

Between them Sinn Féin, the Greens and the far left have 54 members in the new Irish Parliament. While 80 seats are needed for an overall majority, Sinn Féin hope that the remaining parties and independents would be so divided among themselves that this block of 54 could be the core of a new governing coalition. Yet a stable government would surely depend on an agreement with Fianna Fáil, the party that grew out of the anti-treaty IRA in the 1922-23 Irish Civil War, but which has usually distanced itself from the Provisional IRA and its political front in recent years.

Fianna Fáil’s 37 MPs (excluding the Speaker) would give a Sinn Féin domnated coalition with the Greens and far left a total of 91 seats – a comfortable working majority – but reaching agreement ought to be tricky, given that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had pledged during the election campaign not to work with Sinn Féin.

The two old establishment parties – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – have 72 seats between them, but an ‘old gang’ coalition of this sort might seem like a kick in the teeth for voters who clearly opted for change.

Many non-Irish readers might be mystified by the failure of Fine Gael leader and outgoing prime minister Leo Varadkar, whose apparent triumph in last year’s Brexit negotiations with Boris Johnson seemed to bring the destruction of the Union, and Dublin’s dream of a ‘United Ireland’ closer than ever.

Outgoing Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (above right) seemed to have triumphed in Brexit negotiations with Boris Johnson, but has been decisively rejected by Irish voters.

Yet back home Varadkar was facing some of the same troubles that beset the former UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Ireland is no longer seen by the Irish as having benefited from an ‘economic miracle’. As in London, there is a housing crisis for young people, but again as in London most young voters have in response opted for the far left, choosing to ignore the parallel crises caused by mass immigration that has made Dublin unrecognisable in recent years.

Sinn Féin, which once played an ambiguous role, posing to European leftists as a socialist revolutionary movement, while presenting itself to the Irish diaspora in the USA as a traditional nationalist party sharing their social conservatism, has now reinvented itself inambiguously as a socially liberal party, ticking all the correct trendy boxes, though still unapologetic – indeed proud – of the IRA’s bloody record of murder and mayhem.

As with many such populist insurgencies, government might prove a trickier business than rhetorical opposition, and we have yet to see precisely how the new coalition will stack up a governing majority.

Meanwhile the rival populists of the conservative/eurosceptic right almost all failed: click here for details.

Eurosceptics and ‘far right’ fail in Irish election

Last week’s general election in the Republic of Ireland produced a historic victory for Sinn Féin, political wing of the terrorist IRA, and H&D readers would have to examine the small print of the election results closely to discover the fate of Eurosceptic, socially conservative, let alone ‘far right’ candidates and parties. (The Irish elections are under the STV system, where voters rank candidates in order of preference in multi-member constituencies.)

Hermann Kelly, a well-known journalist and close ally of Nigel Farage, once employed by Farage’s European parliamentary group, set up the Irish Freedom Party in the autumn of 2018. Its main policy is ‘Irexit’, but it sees this as part of a broader strategy towards securing a united Ireland – a Republican agenda that would alienate most H&D readers.

Kelly’s IFP messed up its official registration last year, so its European parliamentary candidates had to be listed as independents. This year its registration was in order, but the eleven IFP candidates obtained negligible votes. Their best first-preference vote was 2.1% in Cork NW, local schoolteacher Tara Nic Domhnaill finishing 8th of 9 candidates.

Ben Gilroy, Irish yellow vest leader and IFP candidate

High profile IFP candidate for Dublin Bay North, Ben Gilroy – an anti-eviction activist who had tried to establish himself as leader of an Irish ‘yellow vest’ movement – polled only 1.1%. In Tipperary the party’s chairperson Prof. Dolores Cahill polled only 0.6%; while in Dublin Bay South IFP’s half-Jamaican candidate Ben Scallan also managed just 0.6%.

These results suggest that ‘Irexit’ has for the moment very limited appeal to Irish voters – which is understandable given that the Brexit process, for as long as the Irish Republic remains in the EU, offers the best hope of undermining the Union and moving closer to Dublin’s dream of a ‘United Ireland’. What the IRA failed to achieve by force of arms, might begin to be conceded as part of Whitehall’s Brexit negotiations.

But what of the insidious threats to Irish identity itself – in particular mass immigration and social liberalism? While the IFP certainly addressed these issues, so did several other parties sometimes described as ‘far right’.

Renua has declined sharply since 2016, when it was led by former MP Lucinda Creighton

Renua was founded by former Fine Gael MP Lucinda Creighton in 2015 after she quit Ireland’s ruling party in opposition to liberalising abortion laws. Mrs Creighton resigned the leadership in 2016 and Renua has since become more radical on race/immigration issues. However this year’s snap election came at a bad time for the party, whose leadership is vacant, and its nationwide vote slipped from 2.2% in 2016 to 0.3% this year, fielding 11 candidates. This collapse has serious implications, since parties that score above a 2% threshold qualify for state funding of about €250,000, rising in proportion to the party’s first preference vote share. In common with the other ‘far-right’ parties, Renua will now miss out on these funds. Only the highest of Renua’s constituency votes passed this threshold – 2.0% in Kildare North.

Justin Barrett of the National Party and independent canddiate for Dublin Fingal, Gemma O’Doherty, are two prominent anti-immigration activists

Perhaps the most ‘notorious’ right-wing party in Ireland is the National Party, founded in November 2016 by anti-abortion activist Justin Barrett who has spoken at European racial nationalist events for parties such as Germany’s NPD and Italy’s Forza Nuova. The NP had ten candidates nationwide. Mr Barrett’s second wife Rebecca polled 0.7% as National Party candidate for Limerick City; while deputy leader James Reynolds achieved their highest vote, 1.7% in Longford/Westmeath.

In contrast to the NP, Aontú – founded in January 2019 – sees itself as a mainstream socially conservative party rather than part of a ‘far-right’ fringe. Unlike most other parties (with the exception of Sinn Fein, the Greens, and far-left outfit ‘People Before Profit’) it operates on both sides of the border and has sought recruits from traditional republicans who cannot stomach the mainstream parties’ (and Sinn Fein’s) swing to extreme liberalism on social questions.

Aontú did succeed in winning one seat: party leader Peadar Tóibín was re-elected in Meath West to the seat that he had held for Sinn Fein since 2011, having quit Sinn Fein in November 2018 and set up Aontú two months later. He took 17.6% of first preferences this year, second only to the Sinn Fein candidate who topped the poll. (The big loser in Meath West was Fianna Fáil, whose candidate had topped the poll in 2016 but slipped to fourth this year and lost his seat.) Other strong Aontú votes included 8.4% in Cork NW, but the party’s nationwide vote was only 1.9%.

Peter Casey has fought several high-profile anti-immigration campaigns but failed badly this year

Ireland’s highest profile ‘mainstream’ anti-immigration politician Peter Casey, a businessman best known as a panellist on the television show Dragon’s Den, and runner-up in the 2018 Irish presidential election, was perhaps the biggest disappointment of this year’s election. Standing as an independent, Casey finished 11th of 13 candidates in Donegal with only 1.5%, and made even less impact in Dublin West, where he sought publicity by standing against incumbent Prime Minister Leo Varadkar but polled only 1.1%.

A rival independent ani-immigration candidate, Niall McConnell, fared even worse in Donegal with 0.8%.

A more successful maverick candidate was journalist Gemma O’Doherty, banned from YouTube last year for ‘hate speech’, who took 2.0% in Dublin Fingal, while her associate John Waters (a 64-year-old veteran music journalist) polled 1.5% in Dún Laoghaire on a similar anti-immigration platform.

Perhaps the best news of the election was the success of Verona Murphy, who was disowned by her former party Fine Gael after she made comments about migrants and terrorism while standing as Fine Gael candidate in a Wexford by-election. This year she easily won a seat in Wexford standing as an independent, polling 7.8% of first preferences but elected in third place after transfers from another independent, but more surprisingly also from Fianna Fáil and Labour.

A politically-correct row last autumn over anti-immigration comments by Independent MP Noel Grealish didn’t do any harm to either Mr Grealish, re-elected in Galway West, or his fellow independent Michael Collins, who defended Mr Grealish’s remarks in a radio interview and was himself re-elected top of the poll in Cork SW.

Noel Grealish – re-elected in Galway

So the overall outcome of the Irish election is that there will be at least four members of the new Parliament who, while from very different political traditions, each has a record of speaking out on immigration, in defence of Ireland’s racial and cultural traditions: Aontú’s Peadar Tóibín and three independents – Mrs Murphy and Messrs Grealish and Collins.

Sadly however these will be heavily outnumbered and overshadowed by the success of Sinn Féin, which combines unapologetic adherence to the terrorist traditions of the IRA with an ever trendier ultra-liberalism on race, immigration and the whole gamut of 21st century PC craziness on social questions.

Surge of support for Italian anti-immigration parties

The results of two regional elections in Italy show strong support for the parties of the populist and nationalist right, though the left clung on to power in Emilia Romagna, while losing calamitously badly in Calabria.

Lega strongman Matteo Salvini (affectionately known as “il Capitano”) had a mountain to climb in Emilia Romagna, which, despite being one of Italy’s wealthiest regions, has consistently returned left wing regional governments since 1945. Indeed, its principal city, “Red Bologna” (a pun on the famous red bricks of which it is built, combined with its preference for left wing parties) was notoriously anti-fascist even in the years of Mussolini’s rule, when opposing fascism took much more courage than it does to-day.

Il Capitano’s task was not made any easier by the choice of Signora Lucia Borgonzoni to lead the right-wing coalition. She is relatively unknown, whereas the centre-left’s candidate, Stefano Bonaccini, was the outgoing regional president who had, by common consent even of his political opponents, led a highly competent administration for many years.

Italy’s complicated version of proportional representation means that different parties find it helpful to group together in combined lists, while maintaining their separate identities by a process of allocation of seats within the list according to the percentage taken by each constituent party.

For each region there are moreover (confusingly) two sets of statistics, one for the election of the regional president, another for the elections to the regional parliament.

While Signor Bonaccini won the regional presidency by a convincing margin (51.4% of the vote to Signora Borgonzoni’s 43.6% and a paltry 3.47% for the Five Star (left populist) Simone Benini), voting for the regional parliament was much closer than predicted by the opinion polls.

In the event, the centre left list took 48.7% to the right’s 45.5%, Five Star’s list polling only 3.4%.

The votes cast for the left were apportioned between the Democratic Party (liberal-left) on 34.59%, a Bonaccini support group (left) taking 5.8%, and several smaller green or leftist parties making up the balance of the left’s vote (excluding the Five Star movement, which, as we have seen, presented its own remarkably unsuccessful list).

The lion’s share of the vote on the right went to the Lega on 31.9%, with fourteen seats in the 48 member regional parliament, while the Fratelli d’Italia (who do not disguise or apologise for their fascist heritage) polled a satisfactory 8.6%, so taking three seats in the regional parliament. The rump of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia took the one remaining seat allocated to the right-wing parties.

Lega leader Matteo Salvini (above right) with his party’s regional candidate in Emilia-Romagna, Lucia Borgonzoni.

While some on the left have sought to portray the results in Emilia Romagna as a major blow to Matteo Salvini’s hopes of returning to power, in truth his list ran the left to within less than 4% of the vote in the left’s strongest region in the face of a national mobilisation of leftist activists.

The big winner in Emilia Romagna was turnout at 67.67%, up from a very low 38% at the previous regional elections. The big loser was the Five Star Movement. It presented a joint list with the Communists (once a major political party in Italy) but polled only 3.4%, below the threshold for representation in the regional parliament.

Meanwhile in the poor southern region of Calabria, the left was routed. Here the centre left vote was very fragmented across multiple lists, so that Forza Italia’s candidate took the regional presidency with an impressive 55.3% of the total vote, while the second placed candidate took only 30%, and multiple other lists share the remaining 14.7% of the vote.

Forza Italia took 12.58% of the vote on the party list system, the Lega 12.21% and the Fratelli a pleasing 11.14%. The vote on the left was ever more fragmented over multiple parties.

Jole Santelli (above left), winner of the Calabrian regional election, with her Forza Italia party leader, Silvio Berlusconi. While Forza Italia is now very much the smallest and declining partner in the populist right coalition nationwide, it is the largest coalition partner in Calabria.

While il Capitano was denied the victory in Emilia Romagna that would probably have led to the collapse of the present Five Star/Democratic Party coalition that clings tenuously to power in Rome, both the Lega and the Fratelli continue to make encouraging progress, while Five Star is on the verge of collapse.

To put Five Star’s performance in context, it is still the largest party in the Italian parliament, but now faces annihilation whenever and wherever new elections are held. It was the future once, but is now given over to internecine strife so bitter that its former leader, Luigi di Maio, resigned a few days ago, saying that his real enemies were all elected representatives of his own party, which sounds even worse than our own, dear Labour party.

While nothing is certain in an uncertain world, it does seem likely that a Lega/Fratelli/Forza Italia coalition will at some point take power in Rome, but this time, unlike in 1922, by completely lawful and democratic means.

Brexit dominates General Election – racial nationalist parties stand aside

Nominations closed today for the UK General Election on December 12th, and H&D readers will not be surprised to learn that there are very few candidates from racial nationalist parties.

Both the National Front and the British Democratic Party have agreed to stand aside from this General Election, recognising that it will be dominated by the Brexit issue and that most racial nationalists will wish to use their votes to support a pro-Brexit candidate. (Though there is of course a minority of our movement that takes an anti-Brexit line, following the tradition of Sir Oswald Mosley’s post-war Union Movement.)

For the BNP, David Furness will be contesting the Hornchurch & Upminster constituency in outer East London, where he seems to be the only non-Tory, pro-Brexit candidate. He is the only BNP candidate nationwide: this is the tenth general election that the BNP has contested since it was founded in 1982, and its lowest-ever number of candidates.

Former BNP activist Dr Andrew Emerson is contesting his home constituency of Chichester for the Patria party which he formed with LEL, NF and BNP veteran Dennis Whiting and fellow nationalists who broke away from the BNP some years ago. This will be Dr Emerson’s third parliamentary campaign in Chichester during the past four years: this time he has no opponent from UKIP or the Brexit Party.

Gary Butler, who was NF candidate for Maidstone & the Weald in 2010 and English Democrat candidate for Faversham & Mid Kent in 2015, is an Independent candidate this year, again for Faversham & Mid Kent.

Meanwhile in the Liverpool West Derby constituency, veteran nationalist activist Joe Owens appears as proposer on the nomination papers of Brexit Party candidate Ray Pearson – though Mr Owens has recently posted a YouTube video criticising party leader Nigel Farage for striking a deal to stand down 317 candidates in Tory-held constituencies.

Vicky Felton – councillor for the Democrats & Veterans Party in Monk Bretton ward, Barnsley – is the Brexit Party candidate for Barnsley Central. There has not been any announcement of a merger between D&V and the Brexit Party, and Mrs Felton’s husband Gavin remains D&V Party chairman, so this might be a temporary arrangement just for this election. Similarly Rebecca Rees-Evans, husband of D&V founder and leader Jonathan Rees-Evans, is Brexit Party candidate for Cynon Valley, where she was UKIP candidate in 2015.

There are five English Democrat candidates this year (only one of whom has a Brexit Party opponent and none of whom have UKIP opponents); while the Veterans and People’s Party is contesting Great Yarmouth, without Brexit Party or UKIP opposition, and Linlithgow & East Falkirk, where it has a Brexit Party opponent.

There are only 44 UKIP candidates nationwide (down from 467 just two years ago) – including two in Northern Ireland and seven in Scotland – but in thirteen of these constituencies UKIP and the Brexit Party are standing against each other, including two in Sunderland, two in Sheffield, and Oldham West & Royton.

There are ex-UKIP independents standing in several constituencies, including former party leader Henry Bolton, who will be Independent candidate for his home constituency Folkestone & Hythe. His splinter party Our Nation was deregistered last month after only a year in existence.

H&D will feature reports and analysis on the UK General Election during the next few weeks, and our January 2020 edition will examine future strategies for our movement once the Brexit issue has (one way or another) been resolved.

Spanish nationalist party surges ahead

Vox leader Santiago Abascal addressing a party rally

Yesterday’s general election in Spain saw the nationalist party Vox double its number of MPs from 24 to 52, after its vote increased from 10.3% to 15.1%.

Vox has been in existence for less than six years, and achieved its first significant electoral success at regional elections in Andalusia, southern Spain, last December.

Yesterday was the second Spanish general election in seven months. In April Vox (who had never previously polled above 1% in a general election) managed 10.3% and won parliamentary seats for the first time. Following yesterday’s result, left-wing opponents feared that Spain’s “far-right” is now “one of the strongest in Europe”.

Some observers perceived the latest Vox success as partly a backlash by traditionalist voters against the vindictive decision by Spain’s leftwing rulers to exhume the remains of General Francisco Franco (who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975 after a successful anti-communist revolt).

Spain’s leftwing rulers recently exhumed the remains of former leader Gen. Francisco Franco from his tomb at the Valley of the Fallen (above) near Madrid.

This year’s two general elections have been a disaster for Spain’s mainstream conservative parties, the long-established People’s Party (some of whose right-wing broke away to form Vox at the end of 2013) and the ‘centre-right’ Citizens party.

Yesterday the PP won back some seats at the expense of the Citizens, who lost 47 of their 57 seats. The important fact however is that while Spanish nationalism (which had been electorally insignificant since General Franco’s death in 1975) is rapidly advancing, the conservative parties are in crisis.

The two conservative parties combined now have only 98 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, down from 123 in April this year and 169 in 2016.

This is a phenomenon repeated in several European countries, notably Germany where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU-CSU is divided over whether to continue ruling out future coalitions with the ever-stronger anti-immigration party AfD.

The one big exception is the UK, which while politics remains dominated by the Brexit question has had no chance to develop any serious nationalist and anti-immigration force.

Later this week H&D will begin detailed coverage of the UK’s 2019 General Election, comparing our political line-up with the rest of Europe, and asking how our movement can progress in a post-Brexit nation.

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