French regional elections spell trouble for the socialists

Marine Le Pen got a huge boost in France’s first round of regional elections this week, drawing upwards of 40% support in the northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie. Showing some unusual restraint after the initial results were reported, she said her party would treat the result with humility and a profound sense of responsibility. In the broader sense, her “far right” National Front party did far better across all 13 regions than in recent outings. (Mashable)

France’s far right National Front won more support than any other party in the first round of regional elections Sunday, according to polling agency projections, in a new boost for Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration strategy and a new blow to President Francois Hollande’s Socialists.

The projections put National Front candidates on top so far in six of France’s 13 newly drawn regions. But Sunday’s voting was only a first round, and some mainstream voters may steer away from far right candidates in the decisive Dec. 13 runoff…

Voters are choosing leadership councils for the regions, and had the choice of several parties in the first round. Polling agencies Ifop, OpinionWay and Ipsos projected that the National Front won between 27 and 30 percent support nationwide.

If we try to make this story strictly about Marine Le Pen and the personality politics which infect French elections the same way they do here in the United States we’re not really doing justice to these results. The National Front garnered roughly one third of the vote across the regions, but Sarkozy’s conservative Republicans party took another 27% at the same time. That puts the tally in at least the high fifties for the more nationalist oriented movements while Francois Hollande’s socialists (who currently control nearly everything) took barely a quarter. That’s a huge shift.

For those of us who aren’t quite so familiar with French politics, here’s a fairly good thumbnail description of the National Front:

The National Front is a socially conservative, and nationalist, right to far-right political party in France. Its major policies include economic protectionism, a zero tolerance approach to law and order issues, and anti-immigration. A eurosceptic party, the FN has opposed the European Union since its creation in 1993.

Le Pen speaks passionately about not only the threat posed by massive numbers of immigrants, among which are found terrorists, but of the need to preserve French culture which she feels may be on the verge of being subsumed by Muslim minorities. Her party has opposed the open border policies of the EU and calls for tougher, more military style capability for their police and intelligence agencies to deal with the existential threat. Does any of that sound familiar?

Here in the United States we’re not having any national elections at the moment, but Barack Obama’s approval ratings when it comes to handling ISIS and terrorism in general are in the tank. Americans are reacting to terrorist attacks on our own soil just as the French are after the horror show in Paris. At some point we have to begin asking ourselves how the Left managed to coopt the term “nationalism” and turn it into a dirty word. Frankly, we could all do with a bit more nationalism and significantly less multi-culturalism if we hope to keep our heads above water in the wars to come.

If you want to track this story in France, these were just the first round of elections. Each party gaining more than 10% of the vote in the 13 regions will go into a runoff election on December 13th.