What the elections in France tell us about the uprise of the far-right
This Sunday, 24, the French headed to the polls to elect their new president for the next five years. The election ultimately boiled down to two candidates: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Macron, who has been France’s president since 2017, maintained his centrist, pro-european union stance throughout the whole presidential campaign, which he joined late as a consequence of the attempts of peace talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the other hand, Le Pen promised to bring a far right stance, in which the French would focus on themselves, cutting ties with the European Union and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
As it seems to be the pattern throughout the whole world, politics in France have been getting increasingly polarized, with great indices of rejection for both conservatives and liberals. Along with that, turnout percentages in France, where the vote is not compulsory, have been progressively decreasing which made the results unpredictable. Projections were close and based on the percentage of votes received in the first round of elections (27 percent for Macron and 23 percent for Le Pen) it could have gone either way as many still view Le Pen as too radical to be supported and some came to reject Macron for the failure in uplifting all of France, labelling him as the president of the rich.
Independently of the result, it is noticeable to spot a trend amongst world politics, the growth of the right winged parties. Although not elected, Marine Le pen served as a great example of how there has been an upheaval in the support for conservative politicians. In France, for instance, the widely supported political view had been centrist or centre left, and now suddenly a candidate who vows for the exclusion of France from the EU and NATO and the closing of borders for immigrants almost gets elected. Other examples of right wing conservatives around the world gaining popularity are presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump, from Brazil and the United States respectively. Additionally, people are not only electing right wing politicians, but taking conservative measures, like the brexit.
Why has there been an uprise of the far right? According to Heather Ashby, an expert in Global politics, those who support the far right movement are scared that migration might replace their culture and that immigrants could cause detriments to their countries. In Europe, for example, the increased immigration from African and Middle Eastern countries has led part of the population to resist immigration. In France specifically, the ideology against immigration is based on the arguments that people entering the country as refugees or simply crossing the border illegally damage the country’s economy. Another factor that contributes to the rejection of immigrants in France is the fear installed by the terrorist attacks during the 2010s, as Linah Alsaafin says “people feel like their country has lost its power”.
Conclusively, even though Le Pen has not been elected as the new French president, this election has been another example which displays the growth of the far right. With the popularity gained by Le Pen it is reasonable to state that there has been a shift in politics, and from here onwards we can expect countries to develop a bigger sense of nationalism, focusing more on their own growth as opposed to a collective global development.
Linah Alsaafin. “What Is Behind the Rise of the Far Right in France?” Aljazeera.com, Al Jazeera, 7 Apr. 2022, www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/7/what-is-behind-the-rise-of-the-far-right-in-france. Accessed 24 Apr. 2022.
Ashby, Heather. “Far-Right Extremism Is a Global Problem—and the World Needs to Come Together to Address It.” Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, 15 Jan. 2021, foreignpolicy.com/2021/01/15/far-right-extremism-global-problem-worldwide-solutions/. Accessed 24 Apr. 2022.