Da “Acton Institute” del 24 aprile 2017. Foto da Il Giornale
On Sunday, Emmanuel Macron won the first round of the French presidential elections and is the odds-on favorite to become le president de la République. However, under French law, a candidate takes up residence in Élysée Palace only after winning an absolute majority of popular votes; if no candidate reaches that threshold in the first round, the two most popular candidates go on to a second ballot in two weeks.
Macron has been able to beat the candidate-to-be-beaten, Marine Le Pen, by two percent of the vote. But the Le Pen is the real political winner of the competition, even if she fails to get the majority of votes on May 7. She took a party of the “far-Right” and successfully appealed to the Left.
Le Pen has been the leader of National Front (FN) since 2011, after she succeeded in wrestling its leadership out of the hands of her own father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded it in 1972 as a neo-fascist party of sorts. He had previously anointed her as his successor, but Marine saw that her father’s reputation limited her ambitions, so she joined in the chorus of those calling him an extremist and anti-Semite. (Such allegations have been levelled against her, as well.) After years of vote totals that hardly budged, Marine’s key political undertaking has been rebranding the party in order to broaden FN’s electoral base.
Marine’s new strategy bears the old name of “breaching into the Left,” a classical feature of the European nationalist (so-called) Right – and a highly revealing one. In the second half of the twentieth century, European neo-fascist movements and groups have grown steadily dissatisfied with being labelled “rightist” by media and political opponents because of the association of the term “Right” with capitalism, Atlanticism, and a generally warm embrace of the United States and even Israel. (In Italy, the term also indicates monarchism.) Over the years, these groups branded themselves a “third force.” During the Cold War, they assured voters they were “neither with the Soviets, nor with America.” Such “far-Right” economic nationalist and populist movements ‒ which were by no means less statist than their fascist forebears – struggled to gain credibility as “differently leftist.”