Revolutionary praxis: the strategy of street protest

During recent days British and European nationalists have had to choose when and how to engage in street protests. H&D’s assistant editor Peter Rushton offers this introduction to the strategy of street protest in 2023Este artículo también está disponible en traducción al español.

Isabel Peralta on the frontline of the barricades in central Madrid this weekend

Spain is rapidly becoming ungovernable as patriots (including our European correspondent Isabel Peralta) take to the streets in protest against the squalid and treacherous amnesty deal offered to Catalan subversives by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. Meanwhile in London, the career criminal Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – better known as ‘Tommy Robinson’ – is attempting another political comeback as leader of counter-protests against supporters of Palestine. And in Paris, the main opposition leader Marine Le Pen, past and future presidential candidate for the nationalist party Rassemblement National (formerly the French National Front) has marched on a pro-Israel demonstration.

What factors should be borne in mind by racial nationalists when deciding whether to adopt a strategy of street protests?

First and foremost, we should focus our minds on the protest’s objective. This might seem obvious – but sadly in 2023 many nationalists are only too keen to put on their marching boots merely in order to “do something”, because they are frustrated by the evident crises of European society and the apparent inability of nationalist parties to mount a serious political challenge (following, for example, the collapse of the BNP into a mere fundraising channel for its corrupt and indolent leaders).

Taking the three examples above, the most obvious case is the Parisian demonstration which was solely and blatantly intended as a rally for Israel. Marine Le Pen’s stance was welcomed by none other than Serge Klarsfeld, the leading French “anti-nazi” now aged 88 who has longstanding ties to Israeli intelligence. Klarsfeld told the conservative newspaper Le Figaro: “when I see a big party of the far right abandon anti-semitism and negationism and move towards our Republican values, naturally I rejoice.”

Marine Le Pen with two of her leading allies, Jordan Bardella and Sébastian Chenu, joined a cross-party march in Paris on Sunday against ‘anti-semitism’ and in defence of Israel.

H&D readers will understand that I’m not rejoicing. But neither am I surprised. This weekend is merely the culmination of a longstanding relationship between the Le Pen dynasty and Israeli intelligence services, who have at last succeeded in taking over both of the main political parties of the French “far right”.

Tommy Robinson’s call for British patriots to descend on London and oppose pro-Palestinian demonstrators was only slightly more complicated. Robinson came to prominence in 2009 as leader of the English Defence League (EDL) with an explicitly anti-Muslim agenda. Though it was avowedly “anti-racist” and had numerous non-White activists, the EDL grew just as the BNP was starting to implode, and it attracted many people who would once have been BNP supporters.

Though he has been discredited several times in the past decade, Robinson is heavily promoted by the media and is still viewed by some sincere nationalists as a leader of something that vaguely resembles our patriotic cause. He is especially popular with football gangs and others who are (often for honourable reasons) eager to confront the enemies of White Europe on the streets.

But the objective of last Saturday’s call to action in London was obviously fraudulent, as both H&D and Patriotic Alternative leader Mark Collett were quick to point out.

A wide range of reactionaries including Tory newspapers and then Home Secretary Suella Braverman (an Indian married to a Jew) amplified Robinson’s false claim that the Cenotaph was threatened by pro-Palestinian marchers (mainly of alien origin). The fact is that Saturday’s march for Gaza was never going to threaten the Cenotaph, or even pass down Whitehall.

Crook and fake ‘patriot’ Tommy Robinson (second right) displays his true loyalties with this disgusting hybrid flag before last Saturday’s shambolic anti-Palestinian protest in London

In other words the central objective of Robinson’s rallying cry was fraudulent. Its objective was primarily to embed British nationalists (a tiny, fragmented and downmarket version of Marine Le Pen’s party) as explicit allies of Zionism. And secondly to divide, misdirect and discredit those patriots who might otherwise contribute to building a genuine racial nationalist challenge to our treacherous political elite.

Robinson’s motley crew managed to be both ‘bad optics’ for nationalism, and to represent a counter-productive, fundamentally flawed ideology. As was once said by a French analyst (and misattributed to the statesman Talleyrand): C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute. It’s worse than a crime, it’s a mistake.

By contrast the central objective of the continuing demonstrations in Madrid is entirely valid: to oppose the break-up of Spain. This national betrayal is a cynical deal by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, leader of Spain’s fake ‘socialist’ party PSOE. As Isabel Peralta explained in issue 116 of H&D two months ago, Spain’s party political circus resulted in an inconclusive parliamentary election. To obtain a majority in Madrid’s parliament (the Cortes), Sánchez must cut deals not only with his main allies on the extreme left, but with an assortment of Basque and Catalan regionalist/separatist parties.

Among these is the hardline Catalan separatist party Junts, whose leaders have been fugitives from Spanish justice for several years. They were convicted of sedition and other crimes after they set up an illegal ‘referendum’ as part of an unconstitutional effort to secede from Spain. And despite being politically conservative in other respects, their anti-Spanish conspiracy won the support of the usual international gallery of anti-European subversives, including the ‘Scottish’ Pakistani lawyer Aamer Anwar, who began his political career as a Marxist vandal smashing the Rudolf Hess memorial stone near Glasgow.

Sánchez has offered an amnesty to Junts for its leaders’ crimes. The Prime Minister himself is deliberately subverting both the Spanish constitution and the rule of law, merely in order to obtain a parliamentary majority to sustain himself in office. The situation is in some ways similar to Britain in 1913-14, when the Conservative leader Bonar Law denounced a pact with Irish ‘Nationalists’ designed to keep Liberal Prime Minister Asquith in office:
“We do not recognise the Liberal cabinet as the constitutional government of a free people. We regard them as a revolutionary committee which has entered by fraud upon despotic power.”

Anti-government protesters last night chant at Madrid police: “It’s 10 o’clock: go ahead and tear gas us again!”

In response to the outrageous amnesty deal, Spanish patriots have turned out for the past ten nights in central Madrid, confronting massed ranks of armed police outside the headquarters of the ruling PSOE. Elderly Madrid residents alongside football gangs; conservatives, civic nationalists, Falangists, and national socialists; all these and more have packed the streets of their capital city, and the authority of the Sánchez government is crumbling.

Therefore, in the case of the Madrid demonstrations – in stark contrast to Paris and London – the objective of the street protests is clearly valid and worth supporting. In fact it is the duty of racial nationalists to take a leading role in such protests, even if they are organised by conservative reactionaries with whom we have little else in common.

So the second question becomes, how does a particular street protest contribute to promoting our ideology and advancing our broader political project?

Turning again briefly to last Saturday’s shambles in London, we can easily see that (even setting aside the fundamentally fraudulent prospectus of ‘Tommy Robinson’ and his fellow Zionist propagandists) there was nothing to be gained for racial nationalists from participating in such an event.

There was no possibility of advancing racial nationalist ideas, and the entire charade was simply leading many otherwise sincere patriots down a political cul-de-sac.

In Madrid by contrast the situation calls for serious strategic planning as well as courage. It’s obvious that the leaders of the anti-Sánchez demonstrations are reactionaries – principally from the supposedly ‘right-wing’ Vox and the conservative Partido Popular. Therefore by participating, there is always a risk that racial nationalists are simply acting as footsoldiers for the benefit of our enemies.

For there can be no doubt that the reactionary ‘right-wing’ is our enemy. In some ways a more deadly enemy than the subversive ‘left’.

Tucker Carlson, the American broadcaster and leading international spokesman for the reactionary right, with Vox leader Santiago Abascal at last night’s Madrid protest. The task for racial nationalists is to separate ourselves from the Abascal-Carlson reactionary agenda, even while standing on the front line in broadly-based demonstrations.

But it’s a risk well worth taking. Not only because it is our duty to be on the front line when our nation is under attack (whether as British and Ulster patriots confronting the IRA and its sympathisers, or as Spanish patriots confronting their Basque or Catalan equivalents), but because by demonstrating our commitment – our fanatical devotion to race and nation – we can begin to awaken even those of our compatriots who previously had a limited ideological perspective.

Moreover the self-evident bankruptcy of Spain’s 1978 ‘democratic’ constitution now means that events are moving rapidly, and the potential for radicalisation is greater than anywhere else in Western Europe.

It is, however, essential for racial nationalists to achieve the delicate balance of both participating in a broadly-based protest, but also maintaining our distinct message.

This can best be achieved by:
(a) continuing a barrage of online propaganda focused on our core ideology, and relating it to the rapidly developing confrontation on the streets:
and (b) ensuring that our militants are displaying placards and banners that reflect our message, not the reactionary message.

This means, for example, that whether in Madrid, Paris or London we should never carry placards or post online propaganda that puts our case in religious rather than racial terms.

Of course at various points in our struggle we shall have allies who think primarily in religious terms – which means that in Madrid our allies will often be devout Catholics, whereas in Belfast or Glasgow our allies will often be militant Protestants.

But our fight against the undermining of Western civilization and the betrayal of our nations and our race is not a fight against Islam, any more than it is a fight for or against the Pope. It makes absolutely no difference to us whether a non-European immigrant is Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian or Marxist/Atheist. We resist the non-European invasion in the name of racial preservation and true European renaissance – not in the name of any God or Gods.

To adopt an Islam-obsessed agenda is the worst kind of surrender to reactionary politics. Whether or not in particular cases it also serves the Zionist agenda, it simply has no part in an ideologically coherent racial nationalist struggle.

It is only by maintaining a coherent ideological line that we can obtain any political advantage from these street confrontations. We should never forget that ours is a war of ideas, not a mere street skirmish for adolescents. The battles on the streets are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.

Which brings us to a final topic for today’s analysis. Having addressed strategy, what about tactics? What methods are justifiable in pursuit of our objectives?

The simple answer to that is that any and every method is justifiable, provided it is necessary and properly focused.

In mainland Britain all talk of political violence is (in all conceivable present circumstances) utterly counter-productive and should be rejected by serious racial nationalists, irrespective of moral and legal considerations. Whereas in Northern Ireland there have been times in the very recent past where violence was not only necessary, but was the duty of every decent patriot in the struggle against a vile and murderous foe – the IRA and its proxies and splinters.

In Madrid the treacherous and subversive actions of the Prime Minister have crossed the line at which resistance – even violent resistance – becomes not only an option but a duty.

So the central question for nationalists is not whether violence is philosophically justified, but at what point it becomes both necessary and practically achievable. That’s a decision that can only be taken on a day-to-day basis by those involved. But again the imperative for our movement’s leaders is to maintain a sense of the broader objective. The adrenalin of battle needs to be tempered by strategic focus. We are in politics to achieve a national revolution, not to obtain the short term satisfaction that can be gained either by electing a councillor or vandalising our enemies’ premises.

Isabel Peralta and a comrade from the new national socialist youth group Sección de Asalto salute the crowds last week outside the PSOE headquarters. With the traditional salute of the 1930s Falangists, Isabel and her comrades seek to radicalise these demonstrations and revive the best elements of the legacy of Ramiro Ledesma Ramos and the martyrs of 1936, not the reactionary legacy of the Franco regime.

And that national revolution will be achieved by consistent commitment and serious thinking, not by the mentality prevalent on the internet by which extravagant claims are made one day, only to be forgotten the next, in pursuit of the next ‘click-bait’, the next ‘likes’, the next ‘followers’.

The type of followers we need are people who will both read a book, and spend hours putting themselves on the line in a street confrontation. As my old comrade Jonathan Bowden put it, we need a return of Lord Byron’s ideal concept: the cultured thug.

Further articles on this site and in H&D will examine the ideology that will sustain and motivate these cultured thugs: the revolutionary praxis of the 2020s.

Mossad’s investment in the Le Pen dynasty finally paying off?

Roger Auque, Mossad agent and father of Marion Maréchal

Last week Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella (the president of her Rassemblement National party) gave unequivocal support to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Le Pen’s niece Marion Maréchal, who next year will lead the European parliamentary election slate of a rival nationalist party Reconquête!) is an even more staunch and longstanding Zionist, saying that “France must stand unambiguously alongside Israel in this new ordeal.”

Marion Maréchal as a guest at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, in 2018

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, since Marion Maréchal’s real father Roger Auque was an agent of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad.

In a new article at the Real History blog, H&D‘s Peter Rushton examines the strange connections between the Le Pen dynasty and Mossad.

French nationalists forge ahead: Macron’s project in crisis

‘Centrist’ French President Emmanuel Macron – the ultimate Rothschild / Goldman Sachs politician – was lionised by international liberal journalists when he defeated nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen in 2017 (and to a lesser extent when he won re-election last year).

But the wheels have now come off Macron’s globalist project, and French nationalists once again seem poised for power.

The immediate crisis is due to Macron’s proposals to raise the pension age, as part of a package of reforms designed to shift social and economic policies away from the traditional French ‘big state’ towards a more Anglo-American, privatised, ‘business friendly’ model. Having failed to win a majority at last year’s parliamentary elections, Macron has opted to bypass the National Assembly and impose his new policy by presidential decree. This approach – reminiscent of the most chaotic years of Germany’s Weimar Republic – has understandably inflamed violent street protests.

The Le Pen dynasty whose family drama has dominated French nationalism for decades. (above left to right) Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the Front National, now 94 years old and hospitalised after a heart attack last weekend; his granddaughter Marion Maréchal, now associated with the dissident nationalist party Reconquête; and his daughter Marine Le Pen, leader of the rebranded FN now known as Rassemblement National.

Both the traditional left and Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National have strongly resisted these moves and present themselves as champions of French workers. Le Pen has for more than a decade succeeded in realigning her party (founded as the Front National by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen) towards what some would regard as more ‘left-wing’ economic policies.

Meanwhile Le Pen’s rival Éric Zemmour is pitching for a very different vote. His party Reconquête is more hardline on racial questions and less squeamish than Le Pen on issues related to French history, such as the legacy of Marshal Philippe Pétain’s wartime government at Vichy. Perhaps because Zemmour is Jewish, he has an ‘alibi’ that allows him to be relatively frank about Second World War history and more tolerant of semi-revisionist positions, from which Le Pen (unlike her father) is desperate to dissociate herself.

More directly relevant to most French voters, however, is Zemmour’s far more conservative stance on economic questions, where Reconquête is much closer to the Anglo-American mainstream right and pitches for middle-class voters, competing with the declining French conservative party (now rebranded as ‘Republicans’). Zemmour’s allies present his party as the only real voice of the ‘right’ in French politics.

In the most recent opinion polls, Zemmour is backed by 6-7% of the electorate (about the same as his 7.1% at last April’s presidential election), while Le Pen would lead a hypothetical first round with 30-33%, a significant advance on her 23.2% last year. Le Pen is well ahead of Macron’s likely successors as ‘centrist’ candidate, who would take 23-24% in the first round and compete with the far-left for the privilege of facing Le Pen in a second round run-off. (Macron himself is constitutionally barred from standing for a third term.)

In a legislative election, Le Pen’s RN would compete with the far-left, polling roughly 26% each, ahead of the President’s party on 22%. An alliance of the Republicans and other conservative parties is presently polling only 10-11%; while Reconquête polls slightly under 5%, as do dissident elements of the once-mighty Socialist Party who refuse to ally with the far-left. This is an obvious recipe for continued stalemate in the National Assembly, even if another ‘centrist’ President succeeded Macron.

Le Pen’s rival Éric Zemmour

Zemmour will turn 65 in August, and would be almost 69 at the next scheduled presidential election in 2027. The main far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon is seven years older than Zemmour, and even Marine Le Pen (a decade younger than Zemmour) is seen by some French nationalists as only having one more credible shot at the presidency.

Given the strange dynastic pattern of French nationalism, the future of the movement might still belong to Marine’s niece Marion Maréchal, who is allied to Zemmour. To be a credible leader and future presidential candidate, Maréchal will have to transcend bitter rivalries (including a personal split with her aunt); bridge the gap between the RN’s economic interventionism and Reconquête’s pro-capitalist stance; continue to present racially conscious nationalism as serious and electable; and escape the taint of Putinism that caused serious damage to Zemmour’s campaign last year.

This might seem a tough proposition, but the crises and contradictions facing ‘centrist’, liberal and leftist strands in French politics are even more intractable.

Despite many obvious obstacles, the future of French politics belongs to nationalism. Jean-Marie Le Pen changed European politics when he built the Front National into a serious electoral force during the 1980s: in their different ways, his daughter and granddaughter have a genuine chance of entering the Elysée Palace as President of France.

RN chooses Le Pen’s successor

Jordan Bardella (above right) with his predecessor Marine Le Pen after he won the RN leadership earlier today.

The French nationalist party Rassemblement National (‘National Rally’) – which used to be the Front National (‘National Front’) until it was renamed in 2018, elected a new leader this weekend.

27-year-old Jordan Bardella, who had been acting as caretaker leader for the past few months, easily won the leadership election with 85% of the vote, against 15% for his rival Louis Aliot, 53-year-old Mayor of Perpignan and a vice-president of the party since the FN days.

Bardella became the third leader of the party since it was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen half a century ago. Le Pen led the FN from 1972 until the start of 2011, and his daughter Marine has been leader of the FN/RN for the past eleven years.

Aliot – who is from an Algerian Jewish background – had called for the RN to purge all remnants of fascism, national-socialism, ‘anti-semitism’ or nostalgia for the Vichy government of Philippe Pétain. He also wanted the party to shun a more recent generation of radical ‘identitarians’, whom he labelled as extremists.

Louis Aliot (above left) was once very close to Marine Le Pen, but his 15% vote today was an emphatic rejection of his calls for the RN to purge ‘extremists’ and become a conservative-populist party.

Bardella by contrast – though very close to outgoing leader Marine Le Pen and by no means a representative of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s ‘old school’ nationalism – favours a more broadly-based party, including older ideological traditions, and is known to have friendly links to some in the historical revisionist movement, whose best known French champion was the late, great scholar Professor Robert Faurisson.

Marine Le Pen stood down from the party leadership so as to concentrate on leading the RN bloc inside the French National Assembly, where her party won an unexpectedly large number of seats in this year’s elections and is now (at parliamentary level) the strongest nationalist party in Europe.

It is expected that Le Pen and Bardella will work easily together. What is unclear for now is whether Aliot will accept his defeat (which was by an unexpectedly wide margin) or whether he will follow the logic of his campaign’s critique and break away to form a new, more ‘moderate’, conservative-populist party.

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 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%.

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