Huge increase in Le Pen vote – but another defeat

Marine Le Pen conceding defeat this evening

Marine Le Pen – leader of the nationalist party Rassemblement National (formerly the National Front) –has lost the French presidential election to former banker and ‘centrist’ Emmanuel Macron by a margin of 58.5% to 41.5%.

More than 13 million French voters backed Le Pen. This is by far the strongest vote for a nationalist candidate in postwar French history – up from 33.9% (10.6 million votes) in the equivalent second round in 2017, and 17.9% (6.4 million votes) when Marine Le Pen was knocked out in the first round in 2012.

When her father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen reached the second round in 2002, he polled 17.8% (5.5 million votes). His daughter Marine took over as leader of the Front National in January 2011, then renamed the party as Rassemblement National (National Rally).

Nationalists in France and elsewhere will naturally be disappointed by Marine Le Pen’s third presidential defeat, and there will be much speculation as to whether she can credibly campaign for a fourth time in 2027.

The initial challenge will be to present a unified nationalist campaign at the National Assembly elections in two months’ time. As with the presidency, the two-round electoral system is weighted against nationalists, because even if they ‘win’ the first round, RN candidates tend to face a united front of liberals, leftists and ‘moderate’ conservatives in the second round.

Marine Le Pen with her father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen: their views of nationalist strategy eventually diverged

One of Marine Le Pen’s greatest strengths has been her ability to build RN support among working-class voters in depressed post-industrial areas such as her home constituency of Hénin-Beaumont in the northern French region of Pas-de-Calais.

However her determination to ‘dedemonise’ her party led to an obsession with avoiding allegations of ‘racism’ or ‘antisemitism’. The RN became utterly determined to remove any racial component to its nationalism, and to denounce the wartime government of Marshal Philippe Pétain (even though in his time Pétain was supported by an overwhelming majority of French citizens).

This rewriting of history and redefinition of French identity provoked many traditional French patriots this year into rejecting Marine Le Pen in favour of rival nationalist candidate Éric Zemmour. Among those to endorse Zemmour was the RN leader’s own niece Marion Maréchal, as H&D‘s Tony Paulsen explained in an article for this website.

Eventually Zemmour’s presidential campaign collapsed and he polled only 7.1% in the election’s first round two weeks ago, compared to Marine Le Pen’s 23.2%.

Marion Maréchal (above left) endorsed Éric Zemmour in the first round of this year’s presidential election. Will she be able to repair relations with her aunt Marine Le Pen? And is Marion Maréchal still the eventual successor as leader of French nationalism?

Will there now be a swing in favour of the new Zemmour / Maréchal party Réconquete? And will that party be able to strike electoral pacts with RN candidates at the Assembly elections in June?

Most critically, what will the new balance be within French nationalism? Marine Le Pen’s social nationalism aimed at repairing the extreme inequalities in post-industrial France, or Zemmour’s focus on reassuring the middle-class? Zemmour’s outspoken engagement with racial questions, or Le Pen’s multiracial civic nationalism?

H&D will focus on these and related questions in our next edition to be published early in May, and will have further analysis later in 2022 of the choices facing European nationalists.

Le Pen heads for second round run-off in French presidential battle

Marine Le Pen is contesting her third (and possibly last) presidential election, having polled 17.9% in 2012 and 21.3% in 2017

Marine Le Pen – leader of the French nationalist party Rassemblement National (‘National Rally’ formerly the Front National) is heading for a second-round showdown with the incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron, after winning the support of more than 8 million French voters, almost 500,000 more than she obtained in 2017. The second round will be in two weeks time, on April 24th.

Macron was the clear first-round winner with 27.8% (slightly better than the final opinion polls had suggested) ahead of Le Pen on 23.2%. The far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon was in third place with 22% (well ahead of his opinion poll ratings).

Le Pen’s nationalist rival Éric Zemmour – who had won the support of Marion Maréchal, granddaughter of FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, and many former RN activists – had been running level with Le Pen until late February, each with about 16%, but finished in fourth place with 7.1%, ahead of the conservative candidate Valerie Pécresse who fell to a historic low of 4.8%, only just ahead of the Green candidate Yannick Jadot on 4.6%.

Both Zemmour and Pécresse fared worse than polls had predicted. Since February’s opinion polls, Mélenchon has doubled his vote, while Zemmour’s vote has halved and Pécresse’s shrunk by two-thirds!

This is a disastrous result for French conservatives, who spent a fortune on their campaign believing they had a chance of overtaking Le Pen and qualifying for the second round. It had seemed inconceivable that they could fall below 5%, a vitally important threshold for qualifying for millions of euros in campaign subsidies from the French state.

Meanwhile the Mayor of Paris and candidate of the once-powerful Socialist Party, Anne Hidalgo, polled only 1.7% – tenth of the twelve candidates on the first round ballot paper – confirming her party’s slide into irrelevance. The socialists have less of a financial crisis than the conservatives, because they knew from the start they were not going to reach the 5% hurdle, so they cut their spending accordingly.

Overall turnout was 74%, the second-lowest in modern French history (though higher than any UK election since 1992).

Eric Zemmour had until a month ago seemed likely to challenge Marine Le Pen for leadership of French nationalism, but first round results have confirmed that his campaign ran out of steam

The biggest surprise is that Zemmour did not win a single region, even in the south of France where Marion Maréchal has her power base. It had been thought that while Marine Le Pen would be stronger in the north and in working-class areas, the southern middle-class would desert her for Zemmour.

Le Pen did indeed poll strongly in the north, winning the Hauts-de-France region with 33.4% and taking her strongest département within that region – Pas de Calais – with 38.7%.

But Zemmour’s challenge collapsed in the south.

Le Pen won the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region in south-eastern France with 27.6%, while even though this was predictably Zemmour’s best region he finished fourth with 11.7%.

Zemmour did finish ahead of Le Pen in Paris, though neither of the nationalist candidates are very strong in the increasingly multi-ethnic capital. Le Pen took only 5.5% of the Parisian vote compared to Zemmour’s 8.2%. If one includes the entire Île-de-France region which includes both Paris and its outer suburbs, some of which are very multi-ethnic, the winner was far-left candidate Mélenchon with 30.2%, no doubt boosted by a heavy turnout of immigrants alarmed by Zemmour’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Marine Le Pen is far better placed than any previous nationalist candidate to persuade working-class voters who might have voted Mélenchon in the first round to back her against Macron in the second, though left-wing activists and media will campaign hard for an ‘anti-fascist’ vote.

H&D analysis of the 2022 French presidential election

The Le Pen family drama has begun a new episode with Marion Maréchal (above centre) endorsing a rival candidate opposing her aunt Marine Le Pen (above right) – probably with the blessing of her grandfather Jean-Marie Le Pen (above left).

On April 10th French voters go to the polls for the first round of their presidential election, with not just one but two nationalist candidates among the principal rivals to incumbent President Emmanuel Macron.

Tony Paulsen – who has observed French nationalism for more than forty years – gives his analysis of the campaign so far. Click here to read French Revolutions.

French Revolutions – Tony Paulsen reports

Eric Zemmour – has the dynamism of his campaign exploded French political assumptions?

The French presidential election campaign, fought under the shadow of the war in Ukraine, continues to spring surprises, even on long term watchers of the nationalist movement in France, such as your correspondent, whose interest goes back more than forty years to the presidential campaign of 1981, which I watched in Paris and Toulouse as a much younger man!

Given the implosion of Valerie Pécresse, the lacklustre candidate of Les Républicains, the nearest thing France has to a mainstream conservative party, it seems almost certain that President Macron will face a nationalist challenger in the second round, but which one?

First, some background and a little history. Under the Fifth Republic, French presidents are directly elected by the people. There are usually two rounds of voting, two weeks apart. Unless a candidate polls more than 50% of the vote in the first round (this year on 10th April), the first and second placed candidates progress to a second round run-off two weeks later.

Since 2002, the President’s term of office has been five years (previously it was an almost regal seven). A president may only serve two terms in office.

For forty years, the Front National, now the Rassemblement National, has been the only vehicle of the nationalist right at this level. Getting on the presidential ballot is not easy, since a candidate must find five hundred nominations from elected officials.

Jean-Marie Le Pen – founder of the Front National – and his daughter Marine, who succeeded him as leader and renamed the party.

Indeed, the FN only eclipsed its bitter rival of the 1970s, the Parti des Forces Nouvelles, when Jean-Marie Le Pen barely scraped over the line to find the nominations required for the presidential election of 1981, whereas the PFN’s Pascal Gauchon fell just short, giving the FN a decisive boost over its long term competitor. Sometimes the destiny of a political movement can turn on a handful of nominations by mayors of small towns in the provinces.

History has not however repeated itself. When the anti-immigration polemicist and media personality, Eric Zemmour, announced his candidacy for the presidency last autumn, offering the first real challenge in forty years to the RN/ex-FN’s role as the only nationalist party capable of fielding a presidential candidate, many doubted that Zemmour would make it on to the ballot. Some even predicted that both Zemmour and Marine Le Pen would fail to find sufficient elected officials to nominate them. In fact both did, in Zemmour’s case by a surprisingly comfortable margin, so that two candidates from the nationalist right will face one another in the first round on 10th April.

Back to our brief history. After Marine Le Pen succeeded her father as leader of the FN, she contested the presidential election of 2012, polling 17.9% of the vote in the first round, which was a good score, but not good enough to progress to the second, but in 2017 she polled 21.3% in the first round, sufficient to go through to the second, in which she polled an impressive 33.9%, almost doubling her father’s 17.8% when he ran off against Jacques Chirac in the second round of the 2002 election.

It is, however, no secret that Marine Le Pen did not impress in the debates with Emmanuel Macron in the lead up to second round of the 2017 election. She manifestly lacked his grasp of economic issues, but worse still, her policy of leaving the Euro and bringing back the franc alienated a large section of her own base.

By way of explanation, while the bedrock of electoral support for nationalist parties in France is the white working class, such parties nevertheless poll very much better amongst the middle classes and even the wealthy than their counterparts in what the French call the Anglo-Saxon world. A large section of the French bourgeoisie is for cultural and historical reasons much more nationally conscious than its British (let alone American) counterparts and votes in significant numbers for nationalist candidates. Desirable though that is for all kinds of reasons, it does mean that the purely economic interests of different sections of the nationally orientated electorate do on occasion diverge.

Marine Le Pen has ditched any notion of racial nationalism and is very much a ‘civic nationalist’

By 2017 the divergence was highly problematic because the working class voting bloc in the industrial (or deindustrialised) rust-belt of the north and north-east would have welcomed the break up of the Euro and a devaluation to restore the competitiveness of French industry and save or even create many jobs, whereas the older, wealthy bourgeois electorate of the PACA (Provence/Alpes/Côte d’Azur) region in the south east of France did not wish to see their vast savings eroded by devaluation and inflation, to which the franc had historically been very prone (though not, in fairness, so badly in the three decades before it was subsumed into the Euro in 2002 as in the period 1945 to 1971).

The issue was even more divisive because the north had become the personal fiefdom of Marine Le Pen, while her niece, Marion Maréchal, of whom more anon, had been elected to the National Assembly as a deputy for the Third Electoral District of Vaucluse (in the PACA region) in 2012 at the tender age of 22 and was for some years the FN’s only member of the National Assembly.

Marion remains the youngest ever elected deputy in the history of the Fifth Republic and was hugely popular with her party in the PACA region and with the electorate generally, winning a higher share of the vote in her constituency even than her aunt (who cannot have failed to notice that her niece outpolled her) or indeed any other FN candidate.

Marion is the daughter of J-M Le Pen’s second daughter, Yann. The Le Pen family’s psychodramas are notorious and their love lives are to say the least complicated. It would not be appropriate to call them private lives, as they aren’t very private, the most hilarious example being the decision of Pierrette Lalanne, J-M Le Pen’s first wife and mother of his three daughters, to pose naked in the pages of Playboy after their marriage foundered.

As another example of these complications, while Marion took the surname of her mother’s husband, Samuel Maréchal, she is the acknowledged biological daughter of a high-flying French journalist, diplomat and intelligence agent, Roger Auque (who died of cancer some years ago at the young age of 58).

Marion Maréchal is close to her grandfather Jean-Marie Le Pen and will surely be a future presidential candidate

Marion is very close to her grandfather, and was angry and upset when her aunt expelled him from the party that he had founded in 2015 for an ostensibly off the cuff remark suggesting that le menhir, as the grand old man is affectionately known (after the famous standing stones of his native Brittany) is not totally on board with the official version of what is now said to be the most important (if not the only important) event in twentieth century history.

While Marion is too young and too sensible to spend any time debating what her grandfather called a mere detail of history (quelle horreur!), it would be reasonable to infer that she was more shocked by her aunt’s reaction than her grandfather’s characteristically provocative remark, dressed up as a casual indiscretion.

Relations between aunt and niece deteriorated further in 2017 as Marine’s mistaken view that Brexit would find a powerful resonance in France proved baseless and her support for leaving the Euro lost the party millions of votes, a serious political mistake on which Marine has since been compelled to backtrack in public in a very embarrassing way.

To the despair of many once fervent supporters of the RN, Marion left the party after the 2017 presidential election, indeed quitting politics altogether for some years, tactfully declining to criticise her aunt publicly, instead claiming that she wished to spend more time with her baby daughter, Olympe, not to mention sorting out the aftermath of a messy divorce (in best Le Pen family tradition) from Olympe’s father, Matthieu Décosse, after a marriage lasting only two years.

Somewhat oddly for a practising Catholic, Marion has despite her church’s prohibition of remarriage for divorced believers, recently managed to remarry the equally Catholic Vincenzo Sofo, now a MEP for the Fratelli d’Italia after breaking with the Lega following Matteo Salvini’s decision to support the Draghi coalition government of Italy. Your correspondent suspects that a small fortune passed into the ever outstretched hands of the Vatican protonotaries who handle annulments (Catholic divorces under another name) to resolve any difficulties. Marion is now expecting her second child.

Marine Le Pen has proved an effective campaigner among working class voters in northern France

The departure of the RN’s brightest star was both the symbol of and the catalyst (a curiously appropriate word by false etymology: we’ll return to the role of cats in French nationalism shortly!) of the party’s relative decline after 2017, especially outside the northern rust-belt, in which it entrenched itself electorally, while its vote declined in other regions of France, as its electoral base became narrower and deeper.

Since 2017 the RN has haemorrhaged activists and members, for which many roundly blame its leader, who rules the party with an iron fist, brooking no dissent on the basis that if the dissidents up and leave, they have nowhere to go. Well, they do now.

To add to the disquiet of the rank and file, Marine Le Pen, while authoritarian in her leadership style, is surprisingly socially liberal in her acceptance of legal abortion and homosexual rights, surrounding herself (despite being a twice divorced straight woman with three children) with a coterie of rich, gay Parisian men, a cohort not at all to the liking of the typical RN supporter.

The general expectation of most political observers at the beginning of 2021 was that MLP would fight her third and last presidential campaign this year, coast into the second round, poll a smaller percentage of the vote than in 2017, then retire gracefully to the south of France to breed cats. She received a licence to breed pedigree cats last year and has said that after two marriages and a third long relationship that has also ended, she is now a single woman and would be cat mother, and eager to spend more time with her pets and their no doubt numerous offspring, if not elected president. If elected, she engagingly added, she will evict President Macron’s dog (no, not Brigitte, but their pet, Nemo) and move the cats into the Elysée Palace to keep her company, rather than trying to find a new man on an online dating app!

It is of course possible that, as with so many nationalist leaders, she would in practice have felt “reluctantly” compelled to continue as party leader “for want of a suitable successor” (after alienating her niece) whatever the outcome of the 2022 presidential election, but the great difficulty of reinventing herself for a fourth run at the presidency in 2027 might have kept her true to her stated intention, even if events had not developed so dramatically as they have.

Eric Zemmour was already well known as journalist, author and broadcaster long before his presidential campaign

By last summer, the lack of enthusiasm amongst all but a small hard core of MLP loyalists for a third presidential challenge and a repeat of the Macron/MLP second round was very apparent. Meanwhile, rumours began to spread that the well-known media pundit and intellectually upmarket shock jock and provocateur, Eric Zemmour, might throw his hat into the ring.

Zemmour is the son of a North African Jewish family that had supported French rule in Algeria and fled to France when it became apparent that colonial rule was not going to endure. He has long track record as an anti-immigration (and in many ways anti-Muslim) polemicist, including convictions for inciting racial hatred. Zemmour embraces a much harder line on race and immigration than MLP, who has accepted a purely civic nationalist view of what it means to be French. He is now facing a prosecution for Holocaust denial, despite being Jewish and occasionally religiously observant, for suggesting that the alleged sufferings of French homosexuals during the occupation were exaggerated.

The surface ironies of this state of affairs are obvious, though at a deeper level, it might make more sense than at first sight appears: le menhir’s daughter might have calculated that she had little to lose and much to gain by softening her father’s line on race, while Zemmour might have his own psychological as well as strategic reasons for wishing to be more French than the French.

MLP was plainly flustered by the rumours of a Zemmour candidacy. When it materialised, her political position appeared to be unravelling. First, the opinion polls showed Zemmour drawing level with her, then even surpassing her share of stated voting intentions for a short time. Then team Zemmour quickly attracted RN dissidents, including the party’s only senator, and more importantly (since many of the dissidents had already left the party by the summer of 2021) ex-members who had dropped out of politics, but now returned in large numbers, delighted by the appearance of an intellectually gifted hardliner with a talent for debate and public speaking.

Marion Maréchal’s endorsement of Eric Zemmour was the greatest shift in French nationalist politics in the last forty years

Finally, on what must have been the darkest day of MLP’s political life, her niece publicly endorsed Zemmour, appearing with him at a huge rally in Toulon, a body blow for MLP, such as she has never suffered before, though Marion’s friendship with Sarah Knafo, Zemmour’s glamorous young campaign manageress and mistress, was more than a straw in the wind.

Sarah Knafo is herself a colourful character, to say the least, describing herself as Jewish by religion but culturally Christian. Fiercely intelligent, she is in the long line of French intellectuals who are passionately committed to political causes, but in her case, on the right, not the left. One to watch.

Bearing in mind that Marion is the apple of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s eye and the most political of his many grandchildren, it is easy to believe that le menhir has told Marion (who is known to seek his advice) that while he could not publicly support her decision, he wasn’t going to condemn it either. After all, Jean-Marie Le Pen has himself spoken of his esteem for Zemmour.

It is also tolerably obvious that Marion, who is thirty years younger than Zemmour, will have in mind the saying that young cardinals love old popes, but your correspondent does not fault her for that. The Le Pen family are after all nationalist royalty and it is important to plan for the succession.

Naturally MLP’s remaining loyalists have severely criticised Marion for her decision to support Zemmour, while MLP gave a tearful interview, speaking of the pain that her niece’s “defection” to her rival’s camp had caused her.

Marion had however carefully prepared her answer to these criticisms, giving a long interview to the magazine Valeurs Actuelles (available on line on the magazine’s web site https://www.valeursactuelles.com if you can read French), refuting the case against her as best she could. Many of her answers seem valid. At the very least, they deserve careful consideration. In particular, she said that the RN has reached a dead end under her aunt’s leadership. It can still get good votes (such as no British nationalist party could presently hope for, I will add) but not progress further than its present support level, partly because it has become a party for the economically disadvantaged that advocates class struggle against the better off, with the consequence that it no longer appeals to the patriotic elements of the bourgeoisie. Its leadership cadre is selected exclusively on the basis of personal loyalty to her aunt and, by another apparent paradox, is drawn from the Parisian elite and is wholly unrepresentative of the RN’s working class electorate or the French provinces, which are not enamoured of the metropolis.

Even during her absence from party politics, Marion Maréchal remained politically active, for example addressing CPAC – the major annual event of American conservatism – in 2018

Marion moreover takes a manifestly harder line on racial issues than her aunt, openly saying that she won’t apologise for being white, but will oppose the great replacement, which, astonishingly, her aunt says does not form part of her political vocabulary. Perhaps Marine needs to get out more.

In yet another apparent paradox, despite the ideological dilution of the RN under MLP, it is, said Marion, incapable of forging alliances with figures in the more mainstream conservative movement, because of its sulphurous heritage, whereas Zemmour, despite being more ideologically radical, is better received in conservative circles. He was after all for many decades a journalist on le Quotidien de Paris and le Figaro, the first a well-respected right leaning daily, the second the most important conservative newspaper in France.

Lastly, Marion retorted that her aunt should not be so tearful about her “defection”. She had, she said, left the RN in 2017, and made it very clear in public then that she has no interest in rejoining the RN, precisely because she does not see it as the fulcrum of a realignment of rightist and conservative forces, which Marion believes is necessary to win an absolute majority of the popular vote, not merely a solid minority. Moreover, she added, her aunt had no hesitation in expelling her grandfather from the party that he had founded and built. It is clear that Marion has never forgiven her aunt for expelling le menhir.

Since Marion’s spectacular appearance at the Toulon rally, her aunt’s campaign appears contrary to the expectations of many, including your correspondent, to have developed considerable and surprising momentum.

All recent polls have suggested that the second round run-off will be a repeat of 2017, with incumbent President Macron facing Marine Le Pen

I had been expecting to report the eclipse of MLP, but while Zemmour continues to attract huge and enthusiastic crowds to his rallies, notably at the Trocadéro in Paris on Sunday last, 28th March, and a far more impressive array of prominent supporters, MLP’s very different campaigning style seems to be working well for her, as her projected share of the vote, though far behind Macron’s, is now well clear of the rest of the pack.

While MLP is not setting the nation on fire, the millions of less well off French people concerned about rising inflation and declining living standards find her empathetic and increasingly likeable, compared to the remote and elitist president. MLP is not slow to point out that Zemmour’s temperament is not so very different from Macron’s, nor are his economic policies, though Zemmour is no advocate of a wholly unrestricted free market, but a protectionist. Ironies abound here, since MLP’s upbringing was middle class and comfortable, Zemmour’s poverty stricken and hard, yet she is seen as a woman of the people, and he is seen as a remote if brilliant intellectual.

Zemmour’s response to the unexpected spring in MLP’s step has been to up the ante on racial issues, promising to create a ministry of remigration that will as its name rather suggests repatriate a million immigrants in his first year in office, but events may have conspired against him here.

At present French cities are fairly calm, with none of the urban rioting that has inflamed racial tensions in recent years. Moreover, just as the first major conventional European war since 1945 has distracted one section of French society from purely domestic issues, so worsening economic hardship preoccupies the less well off more than race relations (which should be a lesson to those in our own ranks who assume without examining the history of their own movement that there is a correlation between support for the radical right and economic crisis, though that is an argument for another day).

On present trends, MLP will again oppose Emmanuel Macron in the second round on 24th April. If that is indeed the contest, it remains to be seen how the Zemmour camp reacts, and whether he will endorse MLP for the second round. Some of MLP’s more vocal critics in movement circles are openly saying what Zemmour and Marion must be thinking, that if MLP improves materially on her 2017 performance, she will be tempted to put retirement on hold, tell her cats to be patient, and have a fourth go in 2027. Meanwhile, elections to the National Assembly will likely follow this summer.

Equally, a cease fire, let alone a negotiated peace in the Ukraine would, if it came soon, deprive Emmanuel Macron of some of the incumbency advantage that every wartime leader enjoys for a while. That might not seem likely now, but in the memorable words of Harold Wilson, a week is a long time in politics!

Expect an update on these pages after 10th April!

French nationalist politics in crisis: is this the end for Marine Le Pen?

A political family in happier times: (above left to right) Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marion Maréchal, and Marine Le Pen.

Recent issues of Heritage and Destiny have commented on serious political problems for Marine Le Pen, who this year is fighting her third and perhaps last French presidential election.

Ever since the early 1980s the once fractious world of ‘far right’ French politics has been effortlessly dominated by the Le Pen family: first Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the Front National (National Front), and then his daughter Marine, who renamed the party Rassemblement National (National Rally) as part of a continuing effort to win acceptance in mainstream politics – a process termed dédiabolisation (‘dedemonisation’).

Both of the Le Pens were (until now) assisted by the weakness of rival claimants to leadership of French nationalism. Yet in recent months a credible and charismatic rival has emerged – author and television personality Éric Zemmour.

Due to his Jewish ancestry (and at least semi-observant Jewish faith), Zemmour is partly exempt from the stigma usually attached (since 1945) to any European politician to the right of mainstream conservatism. While Marine Le Pen has aimed for respectability, Zemmour has aimed for maximum outrage, on issues ranging from Islam to the CoVID pandemic.

During the last few days several prominent figures in the National Rally have defected to Zemmour’s camp, and even Marine Le Pen’s niece Marion Maréchal told an interviewer that she would not be supporting her aunt, and might endorse Zemmour.

Criticising her aunt for “incessant ideological and programme changes …[showing] lack of logic and vision”, she hinted:
“I’m thinking about it. I haven’t decided. If I support Éric, [it] would not just be a question of passing by and saying hello. It would mean returning to politics. It’s a real life choice, a heavy decision.”

Éric Zemmour, Jewish challenger for leadership of French nationalism

One of many issues here is that MLP has striven so hard to be more Zionist than the Chief Rabbi, that she is not only outflanked on the anti-Islam issue by Zemmour, but to some extent on the ‘Jewish Question’ (or ‘Questions’) as well!

Zemmour has openly called for the rehabilitation of Marshal Philippe Pétain and his wartime government based at Vichy – which was in its day supported by the vast majority of French citizens but quickly demonised after 1944-45; and for repeal of the French anti-revisionist law known as the Gayssot Law (or more precisely the Gayssot-Fabius Law), which was drafted primarily to criminalise the late Prof. Robert Faurisson and should perhaps therefore be termed Lex Faurissoniana.

Marine Le Pen by contrast has openly supported this anti-revisionist law, as part of comprehensive efforts to distance herself from her father’s perceived ‘anti-semitism’. In order to ‘dedemonise’ herself she has steadily adopted the ‘mainstream’ demonisation of European fascism, national-socialism, and even Pétain’s French traditionalism.

She has now confronted the doubters in her own party, asking them to “leave now if you want to go. Having people here while their heart or their mind is elsewhere is unbearable. It is a total lack of dignity and respect towards all of our supporters.”

The latest development is that 93-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen has called on his niece and her supporters to remain loyal to Marine, while also hinting that even he feels some sympathy for the Zemmour campaign. Some might question his motives for this intervention, but undoubtedly the last few days have seen what was already an unusually interesting presidential election become even more so: perhaps a turning point in the history of postwar European nationalism.

The March-April edition of H&D will include extensive analysis of the changing shape of Europe’s ‘far right’.

Old gang parties unite to block Le Pen – but most French voters boycott election

Next year’s election still seems likely to end in a run-off between President Emmanuel Macron (above left) and Marine Le Pen, but both suffered disappointing results yesterday.

The second round of the French regional elections yesterday ended in disappointment for Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN – successor to the French National Front founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen), but disaster for President Emmanuel Macron’s ‘centrist’ party En Marche.

Mme Le Pen had hoped her party might gain control of a region so as to demonstrate its capacity to govern, ahead of next year’s presidential election when she expects to be Macron’s main challenger.

Her main target was the southern region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA), a traditionally strong area both for the RN and in earlier years for the FN. The RN list was headed by Thierry Mariani, who was transport minister a decade ago in the conservative government of Prime Minister Fillon and President Sarkozy and has been the highest profile defector from the centre-right to Mme Le Pen’s ranks.

In last Sunday’s first round, this RN list was narrowly ahead by 36.4% to 31.9%, with the largest of the leftist-green slates on 16.9%. This meant that the latter slate had the right to contest the second round (which is not simply a run-off between the two largest parties, but can be joined by any list that polled above 10% in the first round).

However in a move showing that despite the Le Pen strategy of dédiabolisation (‘de-demonisation’) the RN is still regarded by its opponents as a ‘far right’ / ‘fascist’ threat, the left decided to withdraw from PACA’s second round and endorse the conservative ‘centre right’ slate, headed by incumbent regional president Reynaud Muselier.

This despite the fact that Mme Le Pen is far close to the traditional left than the ‘centre right’ on economic policy. Her party duly lost the PACA second round by 57% to 43%. This was slightly down from the 45.2% achieved by the RN slate (then headed by the leader’s niece Marion Maréchal) in this region six years ago.

Sébastien Chenu (above left) – former head of the LGBT wing of the French centre-right conservative party – was one of several leading conservatives to defect to Marine Le Pen’s RN and headed her slate in the party’s second strongest region, but finished a distant runner-up yesterday.

Potentially good news for Mme Le Pen is that only 34% of the PACA electorate turned out to cast a valid vote yesterday, in line with mass abstention nationwide. In particular, despite calls for a ‘republican front’ against the RN ‘fascists’, 90% of voters under 25 seem to have boycotted the election. Not only did they refuse to turn out to block the ‘far right’ in this second round – they weren’t even interested in the first round, when a vast range of alternatives, from Trotskyists to traditional conservatives, and including different varieties of green, were on the ballot.

Yet it must remain disturbing for the RN leader that although the French government is widely perceived to have failed during the Covid crisis – there is no Boris-style ‘bounce’ for Macron – and despite all her efforts to make her party seem less ‘extreme’, she remains unable to breakthrough to a wider public than the people who have supported her for much of the past decade.

Perhaps as for racial nationalist parties and groups across much of the White world, the RN has been unable to develop a clear message during Covid, with some favouring a version of anti-lockdown or even anti-vaccination theories, while others wanted to maintain a focus on our movement’s traditional issues and criticising (where appropriate) government inefficiency and cronyism in the face of the pandemic.

In the RN’s second-strongest area Hauts-de-France they made almost no progress, from 24.4% in the first round to 25.7% in the second (compared to 42.2% in the equivalent region in 2015, when Marine Le Pen herself headed the slate); in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (one of four mainland regions won by left-green coalitions) the RN slipped from second to third place with 23.8%; while in Brittany (also one by socialists and greens) the RN vote fell from 14.3% in the first round to 13.2% in the second.

President Macron’s party En Marche failed to win a single region, and in several regions polled below 10%.

No breakthrough for Le Pen in low turnout French elections

Next year’s election will be Marine Le Pen’s third attempt to win the French presidency

Yesterday’s regional elections in France were preceded by customary liberal media scare stories about likely breakthrough for a ‘resurgent far right’. Yet the first round results – while undeniably bad news for President Emmanuel Macron’s ‘centrist’ party La République en marche (LREM) – were not a great success for Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (National Rally – the renamed National Front).

Turnout fell to less than 34%, indicating that the Macron government (unlike Boris Johnson’s UK government so far) is seen as having failed the nation during Covid – yet voters have not swung behind the RN opposition.

The main winners of the first round were ‘centre-right’ conservatives, though next year’s presidential election is still almost certain to end in a choice between Macron and Mme Le Pen.

There are thirteen regional councils governing mainland France (the most important tier below the republic’s national government), plus five overseas. Voters in these regions choose among party lists in a two-round system. To qualify for the second round a list must poll 10% in the first: having done so, it can then fight the second round either by itself or on a combined ticket which can be joined by any other list that polled over 5% in the first round.

As part of Marine Le Pen’s strategy of dédiabolisation to win respectability for her party, it would be important to win control of a region and demonstrate that the RN is capable of holding serious political responsibility.

Her best chance is in the traditional FN/RN stronghold known as PACA – the southern region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Here the RN list is headed by Thierry Mariani, who was transport minister a decade ago in the conservative government of Prime Minister Fillon and President Sarkozy.

Mariani leads a right-wing conservative faction that broke away to ally with Le Pen in 2019 – one of the big successes of her dédiabolisation strategy. Yesterday RN’s list in this region ‘won’ the first round with 36.4%, but was not far ahead of the centre-right conservative list (backed in this region by the President’s party LREM) on 31.9%. A socialist-green list with 16.9% also has the option of contesting next Sunday’s second round and can expect support from a range of smaller green and left-wing parties knocked out in the first round, but despite Mariani’s ‘respectability’ there is likely to be some swing of ‘anti-fascist’ voters behind the conservatives.

Xavier Bertrand is set for re-election as regional president of Hauts-de-France, a boost to his ambition to become conservative presidential candidate next year.

Marine Le Pen’s home region Nord Pas-de-Calais was merged with Picardy in the restructuring of French regions a decade ago and now forms part of Hauts-de-France. Here Sébastien Chenu, one of several open homosexuals among Mme Le Pen’s party leadership, was hoping to defeat one of the leading French conservatives, regional president Xavier Bertrand, who is likely to be the centre-right’s presidential candidate next year.

However, Bertrand’s list won the first round easily with 41.2% ahead of the RN’s 24.4% and the socialist-green list’s 19.0%, with President Macron’s LREM knocked out on 9.1%.

The centre-right also looks likely to win the Île-de-France region that includes Paris and its environs, after its list led the first round with 35.9% ahead of the RN’s 13.1%. The result here did illustrate comical divisions on the French left, with three rival socialist/green lists all qualifying for the second round by polling over 10% (unless they can negotiate a combined slate).

Good news for Marine Le Pen is that her party has qualified for the second round in all thirteen mainland regions, with one first-place and eight runners-up. Aside from the three regions mentioned above, RN votes ranged from 12.3% in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to 23.2% in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

Apart from Corsica (where the RN polled only 4%) and various ‘French’ regions in South America, the Caribbean and Indian Ocean where the RN is predictably weak, Marine Le Pen can claim to lead a serious alternative party of government.

But the main challenge in next Sunday’s second round (and in next year’s presidential election) will be to convert widespread public disillusionment with Macron into positive support for the RN rather than yesterday’s winners – apathy and the ‘centre-right’.

France bans pro-White group Generation Identity

Marine Le Pen remains a leading contender for next year’s French presidential election – indeed (as reported in the latest edition of H&D) recently a supporter of incumbent ‘centrist’ President Emmanuel Macron sought to outflank Mme Le Pen and her Rassemblement National (National Rally – RN – formerly the National Front) by portraying her as having a more moderate line on Islam than the French government!

However, a different section of the French anti-immigration movement – the youth movement Génération Identitaire (‘Generation Identity’) – is now facing official banning orders.

Interior minister Gérard Darmanin – the same man who sought to outflank Marine Le Pen by positioning himself as even more anti-Islamic in last month’s debate – began proceedings in that very same week to ban GI for “incitement to discriminate against a person or group because of their origin”.

The banning order has now been confirmed – see an update by American Renaissance.

GI has frequently gained media attention with stunts, beginning in 2012 when its activists occupied the roof of a mosque under construction in the city of Poitiers. In August 2019 three members were imprisoned for impersonating police officers during GI’s most successful stunt which involved blocking the Franco-Italian border on Alpine roads.

Whereas Marine Le Pen and the RN have concentrated on winning White working class support and have toned down explicit ‘racism’, GI support tends to come more from middle-class students: the organisation blatantly campaigns against a cultural and implicitly ethnic threat to French identity.

The type of banning order being sought against GI was most recently used in November 2020 against the French arm of the ‘far right’ Turkish paramilitary organisation Grey Wolves, who had been involved in militant anti-Armenian and anti-Kurdish campaigns, as well as conflict with the Gülen movement, a controversial sect that was allegedly behind the 2016 coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Several French ‘far right’ groups have been banned in recent decades, including former paratrooper Mark Fredricksen’s national socialist FANE, eventually banned for good in 1987; the PNFE, once closely linked to the Tyndall-era BNP and banned in 1999 after years of legal persecution; and the Third Positionist group Unité Radicale, banned in 2002. To some extent GI grew out of this latter group.

Can Le Pen win?

Marine Le Pen: can she win in 2022?

As in 1848, “a spectre is haunting Europe”. But unlike in Marx and Engels’ time, it’s not the “spectre of communism”. In 2021 the ghost at the socially-distanced feast is the ‘far right’, or what its more hysterical opponents would term ‘fascism’.

And as has been the case periodically ever since the mid-1980s when Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National (National Front) made its first electoral breakthrough, France is the main focus of ‘anti-fascist’ concern.

The latest flurry was prompted by an opinion poll carried out on 19th-20th January and published this week. It shows not only that Marine Le Pen, who took over her father’s party in 2011 and renamed it Rassemblement National (National Rally), would ‘win’ the first-round of a presidential election, but that she would be only 4% behind in a hypothetical second-round run-off against incumbent ‘centrist’ President Emmanuel Macron.

Analysts have long taken for granted that Le Pen would be one of the top two first-round candidates at the next presidential election (due to be held in April 2022), and would probably lead the field at this stage, but have assumed that she would certainly lose the run-off.

In 2002 it was a ‘shock’ when Jean-Marie Le Pen overtook a divided left and qualified for the run-off against conservative President Jacques Chirac, but he was then defeated 82%-18%. Then in 2017 Marine Le Pen finished only just behind Macron in the first-round, but lost 66%-34% in the run-off.

There are two big factors presently helping Ms Le Pen. The first is of course Covid-19. Unlike his German neighbour and fellow ‘centrist’ Angela Merkel, whose popularity has been boosted by the pandemic, Macron is not seen to have had a ‘good war’. Indeed French failures in the production of vaccines have dragged down the entire EU and made the UK look a model of competence by comparison.

The second, perhaps deeper problem is that Macron has sought to reassure French voters by taking a hard line against what he would call ‘Islamism’. Perhaps intentionally, this is perceived not just as anti-‘Islamist’, but anti-Islam.

To be fair, there is a substantial section of French liberals and socialists who are committed secularists, for whom suspicion of all religious influence (originally suspicion of Catholics but now also or especially of Muslims) is central to their politics. Such committed secularism would seem eccentric in the UK and outrageous in the USA, but is perfectly normal in France.

A socially distanced (and increasingly politically isolated) President Emmanuel Macron lays a wreath at Charles de Gaulle’s London statue in June 2020. Might Macron emulate de Gaulle in stepping aside from the presidency rather than risk defeat in 2022?

But even in France, other socialists and liberals prioritise their ‘anti-racism’ above their secularism. Macron is taking a big risk: in attempting to win over voters who are concerned about Islam or about wider immigration-related issues, he risks alienating these sections of liberal-left opinion. The latter group of voters might be so disgusted that they abstain or ‘waste’ their votes in next year’s run-off rather than voting for Macron as the ‘lesser evil’.

Moreover yet another section of the old socialist/communist vote – working class voters in depressed post-industrial areas – have become a core part of Le Pen’s support.

Perhaps this latest opinion poll is the nadir of Macron’s fortunes: the Covid news can surely only get better, can’t it???

If it doesn’t, one risky option would be for the French establishment to ditch Macron in favour of a ‘fresh face’.

Marion Maréchal, seen here with her grandfather FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, might be the long-term successor to her aunt Marine Le Pen.

Either way, the 2022 elections are surely Marine Le Pen’s best but also last chance. If she cannot defeat a Covid-damaged Macron (or a last-minute substitute), the French anti-immigration movement would be likely to seek a new figurehead.

There’s everything to play for, and an interesting year ahead for race-conscious patriots across Europe.

French author jailed in latest opinion crime crackdown

The French author Hervé Ryssen – pen name of 53-year-old Sorbonne graduate Hervé Lalin – has been jailed near Paris for the ‘crime’ of expressing opinions deemed ‘anti-semitic’.

Among his ‘crimes’ was publication of a book in 2018 entitled (in English translation) Understanding the Jews, Understanding Anti-Semitism, which the court found to have ‘denied the Holocaust’. This and several of M. Ryssen’s other books have been translated into English by Carlos Porter and are available via The Barnes Review.

Hervé Ryssen

On 18th September the Paris court ordered that Hervé Ryssen must begin serving a 19 month jail sentence for this crime of questioning orthodox versions of mid-20th century history. He will be brought from his cell to the ’17th correctional chamber’ at Porte de Clichy, Paris, for a new trial at 1.30 pm on 2nd December 2020.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the French National Front and former presidential candidate, has denounced the sentence.

English translations of several books by Hervé Ryssen are available from The Barnes Reviewclick above for link

This week veteran British nationalist and National Front Directorate member Richard Edmonds, together with H&D assistant editor Peter Rushton, wrote to Mr Ryssen/Lalin in prison.

An English translation of the letter appears below.

From Richard Edmonds, …Sutton, Surrey, Angleterre. Dated 23. September 2020.

To Herve Ryssen-Lalin,
Maison d’Arret de Fleury-Merogis, prisoner number 459-091, 7 Avenue des Peupliers, F-91 700, Fleury-Merogis, France.

Dear Herve Ryssen-Lalin,

Everybody is talking about your incarceration and everybody is condemning it…the nationalist weekly news-paper, RIVAROL, the founder of the Front National, Jean -Marie Le Pen and all the friends of Free Speech.

At this very moment the trial is taking place in Paris of the murderers who attacked the offices of the (vile) satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and the President of France, Macron, has just stated that in France people have the right to blaspheme, meaning that the vile blasphemies of Charlie Hebdo are O.K.

[Note for British readers: a few years back, the front cover of the “satirical” French magazine showed a cartoon of the Holy Ghost buggering Jesus Christ who in turn was busy buggering His father, God Almighty; this filth all deemed O.K. by the French Establishment.]

Former Prime Minister Theresa May, alongside Sir Eric Pickles (chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel) declares “I am a Jew”, in a campaign inspired by supporters of Charlie Hebdo

Macron went on to boast that in France there was Freedom of Speech…but that clearly does not include the freedom to discuss details of the Second World War, otherwise you, Monsieur Ryssen-Lalin, would not find yourself locked up in this prison and for many months to come. What to say ? We find ourselves in a hypocritical and tyrannical world.

One can only add that you find yourself in the company of first class persons: At this very time the very brave German woman, Ursula Haverbeck aged 91 years finds herself locked up in a German prison up for the “crime” of expressing her non-violent opinions regarding details of the Second World War: as does the German Revisionist Horst Mahler, aged 84, and the German defence lawyer, Frau Sylvia Stolz, both incarcerated for expressing their non-violent opinions on events that took place more than seventy years ago. I note that the French Revisionist, Vincent Reynouard was locked up in this same prison; he wrote a book on his experiences in Fleury-Merogis prison.

Sincerely, Richard Edmonds and Peter Rushton.

UPDATE: Defenders of traditional European values and liberties have begun demonstrations of support for Hervé Ryssen at various sites across the French capital.

Free Hervé Ryssen!

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