The Front National started off tremendously. In the first round of the French local elections held over a week ago, the anti-EU Nationalist party bagged a historic victory, securing 28% of the vote and leading 6 out of the 13 contested regions.
Leader Marine Le Pen took the party from the gutter of the political spectrum, stamping out the abhorrent fascist and anti-Jewish elements left behind from her father’s legacy; and revamped it into a more appealing political movement.
She looked poised to emulate her initial success in the second round, being predicted a victory in her own constituency.
However, she fell profoundly short of her own aims. Her party failed to win a single region in the second round. Her expectations were tarnished. Even prodigy Marion Marchel-Le Pen failed to win office. Despite a crushing defeat, Le Pen claimed that she would bounce back.
Will she be able to bounce back, or is this as far as the FN will go?
Despite admonishing the electorate on the threat of mass migration and Islamic Extremism – playing into something much of the public feel strongly about, people aren’t desperate enough to enact the measures Le Pen is proposing. Some analysts believed the shootings in Paris on November 13th would have had a positive boost in support for the Front National.
According to a YouGov Poll however, support for tougher measures on migration had only shifted slightly after this tragic event. Likely it further incensed those who already held anti-immigration views. But it seemingly wasn’t enough to turn a substantial majority to her side. Either that, or the FN’s dark past still haunts the party.
Yet that’s not all. There was much upheaval that a clamour of voters on the left, who would otherwise vote for the Socialist Party, tactically voted for the Republicans, in a bid to shut Le Pen out. Allegedly, socialist President Hollande encouraged this in some regions himself.
This indicates a broader issue. Le Pen, for her radical views, is undoubtedly seen as a menace to the political mainstream. Her staunch anti-EU views would likely terrify the corporate leaders who benefit from France being part of the union – as it enables them to expand through countries in the bloc.
Any further success could have instigated a swarm of lobbying directed at the Front National. For Le Pen had a vision to slash foreign investment, and alternatively spend much more into France – a far-fetched task in an ever increasing globalised world.
In any real life scenario: if one differs from the crowd, when the general consensus or belief is solidified in one manner, they will inherently attract opposition. This is a truth for politics as well. No better way to describe Nigel Farage as UKIP leader, or how the rise of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has lead to a relentless demonization of the man. Now this reality appears to be applicable to Le Pen.
What common trait do these leaders share? They are beyond the realm of political orthodoxy.
The Front National’s counterpart in Britain, UKIP, looked potentially hazardous for the political mainstream after a thunderous success in the 2014 European Elections. Although in the General Election of 2015, this momentum amounted to very little; despite gaining over 4 million votes, they won only one of the 650 parliamentary seats. While having fanatic supporters, it seemed more people were against them than were for them.
While many are resentful of the open-door migration policy enforced in France, there is not enough dissent to manufacture a great change. No doubt President Hollande will attempt massage over the public frustration with bland promises to tackle migration. David Cameron has attempted this recently; promising to restrict migrant’s access social security until they have resided in the UK for at least four years.
So, a combination of being rejected not only by the electorate, but also by the political mainstream, has led to a stagnation of the Front National’s success. Of course, the 2017 Presidential Election is still sometime away, so anything could change between now and then. But to get there, they have vast obstacles to overcome. It won’t be easy for them, that’s for sure.