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France’s Far Right at the Gates of Power

France’s Far Right at the Gates of Power

Update: 2024-06-269
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French President Emmanuel Macron has made a bold move by dissolving parliament and calling for new legislative elections, a decision that has shocked the country. This comes after the far-right National Rally party, led by Marine Le Pen, achieved a major victory in the European Parliament elections, securing more than 30 percent of the vote, more than twice the total of Macron's party. The National Rally's success has been attributed to growing frustration with the government, anti-immigrant sentiment, and a feeling of marginalization among many French citizens. Macron's decision to dissolve parliament, while not constitutionally required, is seen as a gamble to regain control and potentially weaken the National Rally's momentum. Some analysts believe Macron is attempting to capitalize on the public's potential dissatisfaction with the National Rally's policies, while others see it as a risky strategy that could backfire. The upcoming elections are expected to be highly contested, with the National Rally aiming to become the largest party in parliament. If they succeed, Macron would be obliged to appoint a Prime Minister from the far-right party, marking a significant shift in French politics. The National Rally's rise has been fueled by a number of factors, including a drift to the right in French society, a sense of alienation among those outside the major cities, and a rebranding effort by Marine Le Pen. The party has softened its image, distancing itself from its past association with racism and anti-Semitism, and has successfully appealed to younger voters through the charismatic leadership of Jordan Baudela. The National Rally's potential success raises concerns about the future of French democracy, with their proposed policies including increased security measures, stricter immigration controls, and a crackdown on independent institutions. The upcoming elections are seen as a referendum not only on Macron's leadership but also on the very idea of a liberal democracy in France.

Outlines

00:00:00
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00:00:44
Macron's Gamble: Dissolving Parliament

This Chapter delves into the political landscape of France, focusing on the recent European Parliament elections and the unexpected decision by President Emmanuel Macron to dissolve parliament and call for new legislative elections. The chapter explores the reasons behind Macron's decision, including the far-right National Rally's significant victory in the elections and the potential consequences of this move for French politics.

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Keywords

National Rally
The National Rally, formerly known as the National Front, is a far-right, anti-immigration political party in France. Led by Marine Le Pen, the party has gained significant traction in recent years due to growing frustration with the government, anti-immigrant sentiment, and a feeling of marginalization among many French citizens. The National Rally has undergone a rebranding effort under Marine Le Pen, softening its image and distancing itself from its past association with racism and anti-Semitism. The party has also successfully appealed to younger voters through the charismatic leadership of Jordan Baudela.

Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron is the current President of France. He is a centrist politician who has been in office since 2017. Macron's presidency has been marked by a number of challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the rise of the far-right National Rally party. Macron's decision to dissolve parliament and call for new legislative elections is seen as a gamble to regain control and potentially weaken the National Rally's momentum.

Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen is the leader of the National Rally, a far-right, anti-immigration political party in France. Le Pen has been at the helm of the party for over 15 years and has successfully rebranded it, distancing it from its past association with racism and anti-Semitism. Le Pen's leadership has been instrumental in the party's recent rise in popularity, particularly among younger voters.

Jordan Baudela
Jordan Baudela is a young, rising star in French politics. At 28 years old, he is the leader of the National Rally and has been credited with energizing the party's base and attracting new supporters, particularly among younger voters. Baudela's charisma and social media savvy have made him a popular figure in French politics, and he is seen as a potential future leader of the party.

European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected legislative body of the European Union. It is composed of 705 members who represent the citizens of the 27 member states. The European Parliament has a wide range of powers, including the power to legislate, approve the EU budget, and oversee the European Commission. The recent elections to the European Parliament have been significant, particularly in France, where the far-right National Rally party achieved a major victory.

Schengen Area
The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and other border controls at their common borders. This allows for free movement of people within the area, making it easier for citizens to travel, work, and live in other Schengen countries. The National Rally party in France has proposed stricter immigration controls, including the creation of a "second border" within France to prevent legal immigrants from other Schengen countries from entering the country.

La Périphérie
La Périphérie, which translates to "the periphery," is a term used in France to refer to areas outside the major cities and urban centers. These areas are often characterized by lower socioeconomic status, higher unemployment rates, and a sense of alienation from the cultural values of the cities. The National Rally party has successfully tapped into the frustration and anger felt by many people in La Périphérie, who feel forgotten and invisible by the government.

Illiberal Democracy
Illiberal democracy is a form of government that combines democratic elements, such as elections, with illiberal practices that undermine democratic norms and institutions. These practices can include restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, attacks on the judiciary, and the suppression of minority rights. The National Rally's proposed policies, including a crackdown on independent institutions and stricter immigration controls, raise concerns about the potential for illiberal democracy in France.

Q&A

  • Why did Macron dissolve parliament and call for new elections?

    Macron's decision to dissolve parliament was a response to the far-right National Rally's significant victory in the European Parliament elections. He believes that by calling for new elections, he can potentially weaken the National Rally's momentum and regain control of the political landscape.

  • What are the potential consequences of the National Rally becoming the largest party in parliament?

    If the National Rally becomes the largest party in parliament, Macron would be obliged to appoint a Prime Minister from the far-right party. This would mark a significant shift in French politics and could lead to the implementation of the National Rally's policies, which include increased security measures, stricter immigration controls, and a crackdown on independent institutions.

  • How has the National Rally changed under Marine Le Pen's leadership?

    Under Marine Le Pen's leadership, the National Rally has undergone a rebranding effort, softening its image and distancing itself from its past association with racism and anti-Semitism. The party has also successfully appealed to younger voters through the charismatic leadership of Jordan Baudela.

  • What are the key concerns about the National Rally's potential rise to power?

    The National Rally's proposed policies, including increased security measures, stricter immigration controls, and a crackdown on independent institutions, raise concerns about the potential for illiberal democracy in France. These policies could undermine democratic norms and institutions, restrict freedom of speech and the press, and suppress minority rights.

  • What is the significance of the National Rally's success among younger voters?

    The National Rally's success among younger voters is a significant development in French politics. It suggests that the party has successfully appealed to a new generation of voters who are disillusioned with traditional political parties and are attracted to the National Rally's message of change and national identity.

Show Notes

The far right in France had a big win this month, crushing the party of President Emmanuel Macron in elections for the European Parliament. But the results did not affect France’s government at home — until Mr. Macron changed that.

Roger Cohen, the Paris bureau chief for The Times, discusses the huge political gamble Mr. Macron has taken, which has brought the far right closer than ever to gaining real power in France.

Guest: Roger Cohen, the Paris bureau chief for The New York Times.

Background reading: 

  • Battered by the far right in voting for the European Parliament, Emmanuel Macron called for new elections in France.
  • The president has challenged voters to test the sincerity of their support for the far right. Were the French letting off steam in the European elections, or did they really mean it?

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily. Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday.

Comments (4)

Amir Norozi

Great 👍

Jul 18th
Reply

Tom MacDonald

notice how the mainstream media always labels at the far right. just saying.

Jun 26th
Reply (2)
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France’s Far Right at the Gates of Power

France’s Far Right at the Gates of Power

The New York Times