The European far right: actually right? Or left? Or something altogether different?
Marine Le Pen’s ability to attract nearly a fifth of the vote in the first round of the French presidential election was a resounding victory for her party.
While Le Pen’s Front National (FN) did not secure enough of the vote – 17.9% – to make the final run off, there is no doubt the FN voting bloc will be influential in deciding whether Nicolas Sarkozy retains office or Socialist candidate Francois Hollande becomes the 5th Republic’s first left President since Francois Mitterand.
The message is clear: parties of the “far right” are now an established political force in mainstream European politics.
The success of the Front National hasn’t gone unnoticed in the popular media. In news coverage the FN and other members of the Nativist Populist (NP) party family are most often referred to as “far-right”. In the economic sense at least, the accuracy of the “far-right” descriptor is doubtful.
In the contemporary Anglosphere, “right” tends to refer to economic liberalism, free markets, corporatism and globalism. Taken to its logical conclusion, far-right economics would be radically libertarian laissez-faire capitalism in which the nation, in ethnic, cultural and structural terms, is rapidly moving towards its expiry date.
In an age when “right” has come to mean, less state and more markets and corporations, the economic policies offered by the NP parties are often further to the “left” than many of those offered by centrist social democrats.
Le Pen’s own public utterances criticising “ultra liberalism” and mondialism (One Worldism) are evidence enough that her natural constituency is not the Davos set. Rather, she is distinctly protectionist in her economic positions, having described globalisation as “getting slaves to make things abroad to sell to unemployed people here".
The NP parties tend to campaign on a cultural and a social axis. The cultural axis is traditionalist, the economic axis tends to be something best described as ethno-communitarianism with distinctly statist and leftist positions. These two axes make strategic sense when considering the FN’s targeted demographic.
French voters who support the Front National feel assailed on two fronts. First by cheap Chinese and other foreign imports local manufacturers cannot compete against, lest they start a “race to the bottom”. Second, they fear mass non-European immigration, mainly from Islamic Africa and Asia. They perceive themselves to be overwhelmed by free markets and open borders. The NP parties portray a situation where globalising elites make all the gains while the average citizen loses job security, identity and quality of life...MORE...LINK
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