Will Marine Le Pen Take the Presidency?

Nationalism in Europe — Frontline Club Talk

There is no doubt among the guest speakers at the Frontline Club: it is highly unlikely Le Pen will win the French presidential elections. Although the far-right wing candidate is still first in the latest Pop 2017 polls with 26%, the French electoral system will certainly prevent her from winning.

Nathalie Nougaytède, columnist for the Guardian, stated that Le Pen has a 100 percent chances to go to the second round but the odds will not run in her favour for the second vote. A situation similar to the 2002 presidential election is likely to happen again: a coalition of parties that will arise to prevent Le Pen from winning.

The scenario for this election is set and fully agreed by the guest speaker who then addressed the different issues that led to the rise of Le Front National, Le Pen’s political party.

For Philippe Maliere, professor of EU politics at College of London, the new trend sees an ever increasing scepticism towards French elites resulting from a collective indignation of the French population. This issue has set a perfect playground for Le Pen to win the trust of such big amount of people in the country.

The candidate has made use of the negative outcome of the previous mandate combined with a fragmentation of the political spectrum, its constant scandals as well as the growth of violence and the international terrorism threat.

In that sense, Le Pen appear to be on the continuity of Brexit and Trump’s election. Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, argued that her radical populist ideology is a threat to democracy and to the cohesion of Europe.

Le Front National’s candidate makes use of France’s main issues to justify her politics of protectionism which constitutes an series of anti-European, anti-globalization, anti-immigration, anti-elites or anti-Islam ideas. “Marine Le Pen, just like his father, have ideas which cannot work with the core French principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.” Said Luana Chelli, a French student based in London.

For the speaker at the Frontline Club, this last idea of anti-Islam was the one who propelled her in first position of every French poll.

The numerous attacks that ISIS perpetrated in France by mainly Frenchmen feed the arguments against Muslim communities who are now been seen as scapegoats. Those people found a very attractive discourse on Le Pen who blames Islam for most of the ills of the French society. “She is so popular because she listens to the population who feels unrepresented.” Said Carine Porta, a French student based in London.

In this sense, Nougaytede warned the people who attend the event. If any terrorist attack happens in France before the elections, this will highly influence the result and Le Pen will then have a serious opportunity to become the eighth president of the French Republic.

Can terrorism influence the 2017 French election result in favour of Marine Le Pen?

Terrorism is today’s third biggest preoccupation in French’s society after unemployment rates and social protection. Latest polls published by Les Echos newspapers suggest that almost one of every three people in France thinks that terrorism is among the three most critical topics in their country agenda.

The report published by the end of January requested the participants to rank their top three biggest concerns. The results shows terrorism dropping from 48 percent in November 2016 to 30 percent now.

This minor drop is due to the absence of any recent terrorist act within the country. However, the topics surrounding terrorism also play part in Frenchmen’s lives. For instance, immigration is the fourth biggest concern and in seventh position there is the place of Islam in society.

But looking at what is the main priority of people, the results slightly change putting terrorism and immigration both in second position.

Le Front Populaire’s candidate, Marine Le Pen, has profoundly criticized the government’s actions regarding issues surrounding terrorism. She has effectively made use of people’s concern to attract new voter who are desperate for drastic measures. “Forfeiture of French nationality, expulsion and prohibition of territory for any bi-national linked to a Jihadist sector.” Says her political program.

Within the political spectrum, Le Pen is the candidate that has the hardest measures against terrorism. Nathalie Nougaytède, columnist for The Guardian, stated that a new terrorism attack before the end of the French elections can profoundly influence its result in favour of Le Pen.

The combination of Le Pen’s proposition with the concerns that French population has makes this possibility highly likely.

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