Conservatives Head To Run-Off Poll: “Alt-Right’ On The Rise In Socialist France
As the 2017 French presidential election heats up, emerging alt-right sentiments could dramatically shake up French politics. Across the so-called “West”, alt-right parties are gaining influence and either have or are threatening to seize power through elections. These various alt-right parties are driven by similar skepticisms of government and supra-government organizations, and also a general fear of Muslims, immigrants, and minorities.
In the United States, the alt-right has already secured Donald Trump’s stunning Presidential election victory. Similar sentiments among working class whites in the United Kingdom fueled the perhaps more shocking Brexit vote. Rather than exceptions to the rule, the growing influence of alt-right parties is spreading across France, Germany, and elsewhere. The shift towards nationalist alt-right policies is particularly stark in France, which faces crucial 2017 elections.
Alt-Right Faceoff Brewing in 2017
Republicans voters voted on Sunday for Francois Fillon to represent them in 2017 against National Front leader Marine Le Pen. Voters chose between Fillon and Alain Juppe, both former Prime Ministers (the second highest office in France) with similar proposals for running the economy. However, the two candidates differed starkly in how they would deal with immigration and the emerging war of cultures between Islam and the secular/Christian West.
Fillon has run on a platform that promises to put the fight against Islamic terrorism and the Islamic State front and center, while Juppe emphasized the need for peaceful co-existence and cooperation. Fillon has also stated that he wishes to repair relations with Putin and to drop sanctions against Russia. Meanwhile, Juppe promised to continue to pressure Russia until it makes peace with Ukraine and stops bombing anti-Assad moderate Sunni groups in Syria.
Fillon’s stances mesh nicely with incoming American President Donald Trump, who has called for restrictions on Muslim immigration, a Muslim registry, a border wall with Mexico, and establishing warm relations with Russia. Trump has also hinted at a nationalist approach for the economy, promising to forcefully keep jobs in the United States and to punish companies that outsource.
Fillon’s victory comes as French voters are becoming increasingly wary of the surge of Muslim immigrants, and the up-tick in terrorist attacks within France. Previously, Fillon had been labeled as “Mr. Nobody” by popular French newspaper Le Monde, but his conservative nationalist positions have propelled him into the spotlight. Now, Fillon will have to battle with an even further to the right French politician for control of the presidency.
Far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen has been surging in recent polls. Even more so than Fillon, Le Pen signifies the surging power and influence of growing nationalist alt-right movements in France. Le Pen has called for a review of France’s membership in the European Union, and has demanded that France be given control of its borders and for the country to leave the Eurozone. Le Pen has also called for a sharp decrease in legal immigration, from 200,000 to only 10,000 and for France’s social welfare benefits to be available only to French citizens.
Alt-Right Populism Here to Stay?
France’s election has not yet been decided, and it’s possible that the current French president, socialist François Hollande, will run for a second term. Hollande is deeply unpopular, but with conservative votes split between Le Pen and Fillon, he might be able to eek out a victory.
Regardless, the appeal of alt-right populism is becoming all the more obvious. In Germany, the alt-right Alternative for Germany has been steadily gaining supporters, with Chancellor Merkel’s open arms policy towards refugees costing her support. In Hungary the nationalist conservative Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People's Party hold power, with alt-right conservative Viktor Orbán serving as Prime Minister. Across Europe and North America, an increasing number of people or being drawn to the ideals of the alt-right.
Compared to most conservative parties, the alt-right is decidedly nationalist, and often skeptical of market liberalization. Globalization has created many winners, but for many working and middle class families, it has also caused a lot of pain. Those in pain are finding a lot of appeal in the nationalist, anti-globalization positions of the many emerging alt-right parties.