French voters’ revolt against multiculturalism takes Le Pen’s party to brink of power

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) has made huge gains in the first round of the French parliamentary elections.

While it is obvious that there has been a tremendous swing in favour of the RN (and against ‘centrist’ President Emmanuel Macron), the two-round system used in France means that anti-RN voters will again have the opportunity to strike deals in next Sunday’s decisive second round and block nationalist victories.

The ‘right-wing’ of the conservative Republicans (a party seemingly in terminal decline) had already struck a deal with Le Pen by which they were allowed a free run in more affluent areas, including parts of central Paris.

However, it’s difficult to imagine that these people would be reliable allies of an RN government, since their economic ideas are at the opposite pole to Le Pen’s. (It’s already clear that Le Pen herself will concentrate on campaigning to succeed Macron eventually as President: the Prime Minister of any potential RN government would be her young colleague and party chairman, Jordan Bardella.)

Complete results from the first round will not be available until tomorrow, but the two most reliable projections give the RN 33% or 33.5%; the broad left-wing ‘popular front’ 28.5%; Macron’s ‘centrists’ 22%; and the Republicans around 10%.

Éric Zemmour, the Jewish journalist lionised until two years ago as the future of post-Le Pen French nationalism, is politically dead after yesterday’s results.

One of the few certainties is that Éric Zemmour’s party Reconquête, which until early 2022 seemed poised to overtake the RN as the main force in French anti-immigration / nationalist politics, has been destroyed, polling only about 0.5%.

Zemmour expelled the majority of his own MEPs (including Le Pen’s niece Marion Maréchal) in a row over whether to negotiate with the RN. His party now seems to consist only of himself, his girlfriend Sarah Knafo, and a tiny faction of Putinists and irreconcilable enemies of Le Pen.

H&D will examine the French results and the emerging transformation of European nationalism in further analyses on this website (once detailed results are available), and in the next edition of our magazine.

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