Maryam Namazie
Published in Hambastegi English
April 25, 2002

In the first round of the French presidential elections, the National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has won 17% of the votes; he will face off Chirac who won 19.67% of the votes in the second round. Le Pen’s ‘success’ has caused much concern throughout Europe and the world about the extreme Right’s gains on the European political scene.

Le Pen’s ‘showing’ is being portrayed as a ‘reflection of voters’ concern on immigration’ and their ‘fear of foreigners.’ In fact, though, Le Pen’s showing has more to do with reflecting people’s disillusionment with the parliamentary system rather than revealing anything on their views on immigration. The low winning votes (the top three candidates all received less than 20 percent), the number of people who didn’t even bother to vote (nearly 30 percent – more than those who voted for any one candidate), and the numbers who voted for Le Pen as a protest vote or to register their dissatisfaction, all point to this truth. People are disillusioned with the system, see no real differences between the main candidates and no longer see the relationship of Social democracy to their lives. Regardless of the candidate, people have come to realise that nothing really changes by voting in such elections. As a result, fascist parties, which are isolated in society, are able to gain access to the political scene.

Under these conditions, people’s real views on the far-Right and its policies cannot be gauged by counting the percentage received by Le Pen but rather by looking to the streets where people are ‘voting’ with their feet. Tens of thousands poured out to oppose Le Pen right after his ‘success’. In Italy, 13 million workers shut down society in response to the Right wing Berlusconi government. Hundreds of thousands have come to the streets to defend immigrants and asylum seekers throughout Europe. Their views are nothing like Le Pen’s or even Blunkett’s and Blair’s for that matter. It is in the streets where society’s real views on immigration and asylum and on the extreme Right can be seen. This is where society is polarised. This is where the Right has been and will be pushed back.

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