…to defeat the National Front!
The New York Times explains the basic breakdown of the latest populist right wing insurgency.
Ms. Le Pen captured areas with high unemployment and low wages, where she campaigned on pledges to stop immigration and renegotiate France’s relationship with the European Union.
Mr. Macron dominated in economically dynamic areas and large cities, like Paris and Bordeaux, where his pro-business and socially progressive platform resonated with educated voters.
And CityLab broke it down even further, concluding with some city consciousness analysis, which I happily bolded…
Macron’s base is urban, while Le Pen has fared better out in the countryside. But zoom in on the exact details of last night’s results, as is possible with this interactive map, and a more complex picture reveals itself. Among the top four, three out of the four candidates scored majorities across urban, suburban, and rural districts rather than being restricted to one type of community. Macron, Fillon, and Mélenchon each carved out a piece of inner Paris—Fillon grabbed six districts in wealthier west, Mélenchon carved out two in the poorer east while the remaining 12 went to Macron. Each of the three also did well in places far beyond France’s main metropole. Macron came first in many backwoods areas of Western France, Fillon scored well north of the Loire and in the Alps, while Mélenchon snatched gold in many parts of France’s other major mountain ranges, the Massif Central and the Pyrenees.
Le Pen failed to score a majority in almost any district in one of France’s major cities.
CityLab also sounds an even more urgent alarm about Marine LePen than the (already) scary Trump analogy allows. This reassured me that people are at least paying attention.
Man, I remember reading about her dad and the National Front in the Washington Post and Time magazine back in high school in the 1980s. Those articles about this “fringe” movement were so openly derisive. There was universal, objective agreement at the time that the National Front (the National Front!) was a terrible development. (Sadly, as of today, basic 20th Century Humanist values of progress, inclusion, and civil rights have taken on bogeyman status—”that’s politically correct!”—in a simpleton campaign about shutting down debate to protect the past. And now the National Front is perfectly legit.)
And while Le Pen has, like America’s current president, both played the political outsider and (until recently) courted Russia, it would be a mistake to cast her as the female Trump. In certain ways, she’s worse: Trump’s connections to the violent, racist extreme-right fringe are based largely on his advisors and associates like Steve Bannon, and more generally on the fandom he’s aroused among white supremacist organizations. With Le Pen, the links are more explicit, and built on decades of direct experience.
The strong feelings Le Pen stirs up are largely justified. The most positive perspective presented of her politics is that, after having inherited the Front National’s leadership from her more thuggish father Jean-Marie in 2011, she has succeeded in steering the party away from its extreme-right racist excesses to become a more inclusive, consensus-building party. The best evidence of that: The expulsion of Jean-Marie Le Pen himself from the Front National in 2015, following his refusal to attend a disciplinary hearing after referring to Nazi gas chambers as a “detail” of World War Two.
The problem is that Marine and her sister Marie-Caroline have played a key role in their father’s publicity machine since the 1980s. While Jean-Marie complained that the French national soccer team had too many black players, or stated that people with HIV should be quarantined in an “Aids-atorium,” his daughters presented a more acceptably feminine face for the party. Marine stood by her father’s side when he was found guilty in 2000 of physically assaulting a female MP. It was Marine who claimed (with no evidence) that all meat sold in the Paris region was secretly halal and she who denied this year that France bore any responsibility for the Vichy-led roundups of over 13,000 French Jews at Paris’ Winter Velodrome. Just last week, she sang the praises of French colonialism.