Despite election loss, Marine Le Pen influence in France to continue

Emmanuel Macron will retain the French presidency for another five years after defeating Marine Le Pen by 17 percentage points, but Le Pen secured the far right's highest share of the vote yet.

Mabel Berezin is a comparative sociologist at Cornell University whose work explores fascist, nationalist and populist movements in Europe and associated threats to democracy.

Berezin says: “In the morning after the French Presidential election, the trending story is that once again France beat back the far right as Emmanuel Macron defeated far right candidate Marine Le Pen by 17 percentage points.  Even Macron in his victory speech conceded that he owes his second term as much to citizens who voted to stop Le Pen as to affirm his agenda.

“This is Le Pen’s third try for the Presidency and in every try she gains more votes.  This is not due to her political skill alone—although she is a far better politician than she often gets credit for.

“In her feisty concession speech, Le Pen said ‘we can change the future.’  And what future is that?  We need to go back to the first round where candidates from the center right to the extreme right received a total of 34 percent of the vote—higher than either Macron or Melenchon.  The results were hardly in before Eric Zemmour the far right provocateur whos candidacy made Le Pen seem moderate  called for a united Nationalist bloc in the June Legislative elections.  In the first round, Macron was clearly the candidate of  voters over 60.  This changed in the second round where Melenchon’s youth vote seemed to have gone to Macron.  While Le Pen lost in every category, the striking statistic from the second round is economic—a theme that she ran on.  According to a post-election IFOP poll, 59 percent of those ‘struggling to make ends meet’ voted for Le Pen versus 66 percent of those with ‘no financial struggles’ that voted for Macron.

“The combination of an emerging organized nationalist right with a significant segment of the French population experiencing daily precarity almost guarantees that Marine Le Pen will continue to be an influential voice in French politics.”

For interviews contact Becka Bowyer, cell: (607) 220-4185, rpb224@cornell.edu.

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