French Election Signals Danger

Rina Cakrani, Columnist

Illustration by Meg Cuca

If you have ever wondered what the female version of Trump would be like, the answer is Marine Le Penn, one of the candidates in the French presidential elections, who is now in the second and final stage against Emmanuel Macron. Many remember her for going against her father for the leadership of the far right party, the National Front, but she has become pretty famous in her own right with her declarations against the foreigners in France, her racist remarks and her skepticism towards organizations such as NATO. She wants to abandon the EURO, renegotiate France EU’s membership before holding a referendum and deport all the illegal immigrants. She plans to cut legal immigration to 10,000 in a year and ban any conspicuous religious symbols in public, such as headscarves. What has mostly attracted attention are her speeches and interviews in which she openly expresses her opposition towards immigrants or foreigners in general, giving a strong indication of her racism that deteriorates the image of France, one of the most crucial countries for the EU. Even during the EURO soccer championship last year, she refused to attend or support the French national team, saying that the team didn’t represent France due to the many Black players that are part of it. But this is not the most outrageous of her statements. She provoked fury when she said that the French state was not to blame for deporting Jews from Paris to concentration camps during World War II.

However, these statements have not provoked a strong opposition to her and it is not weird that she has gathered many supporters over the past few years. Because of  the past terroristic attacks that have of course been blamed upon the many Muslim immigrants that are in France, while some others have been convinced by the disappointing politics of the last 10 years and in particular with the presidency of the current president Hollande, who lacked personality and decision-making power and only managed to create headlines with scandals related to his personal life.

I think that despite her political  resemblance to Donald Trump, she is different in that she seems competent, authoritative and not a reality show personality. She knows what she is doing and has clear plans and is not overruled by her emotions when she speaks in public. Her supporters could see in her a strong figure who will take the presidency seriously and won’t abuse with her role. I believe that differently from the American context, what has given her candidacy a boost, is the general feeling that the EU has become a form of German imperialism, the idea that the French society is being assimilated by immigrants and is losing its identity, or the constant threat of terroristic attacks that have been quite numerous during the past two years, is influencing people to seek solutions that are often radical. And Le Pen seems to be the key to those solutions.

The verdict will come on May 7th and although the polls suggest she is unlikely to win, one can never be sure. People thought Trump wouldn’t be able to win, but surprisingly he did and the same could win this upcoming Sunday.