One of the reasons that I consider the results of these elections to have been strongly disappointing for the Front National is that it represents not just a stunting but a reversal of their upwards trend since the late 2000s.
For instance, back in December 2015, the Front National almost doubled their share of the vote in the regional elections relative to 2012 (and a tripling relative to 2010). Even though they failed to win a single region, it represented a strong surge that seemed to augur very well for the future.
But whereas their results at the local and regional party level surged upwards up until 2015, Le Pen’s result this time represents at best a stagnation or possibly an outright regress in the light of the halcyon days of 2014-2015. This becomes especially clear when you extend the graph I compiled in 2015 to the current day:
This seemed to represent a general trend across many European nations where “conservatism” amongst the older generations (which is “Communism” in Russia’s case) transmutated into nationalism amongst the younger generations.
Now, this trend has come to an end in France, and has even begun to reverse.
In 2017, the most avid supporters of Le Pen are the 35-49 year olds, falling to 24% amongst the 25-34’s and to 21% amongst the 18-24’s.
Now yes, to be sure, there is a Muslim/immigrant demographic effect here, which does somewhat dampen the nationalist vote amongst the younger generations (though this makes it no less electorally real). This is because of the well known fact that Muslims are much younger on average than France as a whole.
According to a recent IFOP poll (see right), the far left Melenchon enjoys almost twice as much support from Muslims as he does from the country as a whole; another 17% of them support the socialist Hamon, three times as much as his all-country average. Conversely, only 5% of them vote for Le Pen, versus 21.3% overall.
And indeed, it is perhaps a telling coincidence that whereas Le Pen’s support falls by 8% points from the 35-49 age group to the 18-24 age group, conversely, Melenchon’s support increases by the same amount.
Still, even the youngest voting generations outside the Île-de-France are still solidly majority French, so the Muslim factor can only account for a minor part of the difference. The logical conclusion, then, is that Le Pen has simply stopped growing on the youngest generations of ethnic Frenchmen, if not gone into outright reverse.
For any French or European nationalist, this is doubleplusungood no matter how you spin it.
What makes this even worse is that I don’t think this is explainable on account of Marine Le Pen’s antipathy towards the EU or her statist economic program (as argued by the Russian liberal nationalist Egor Prosvirnin, who has mocking called her Marine Ivanovna Kurginyana).
Again, as with Russia, the trick is to look at the opinion polls.
According to this IFOP poll from April 2017 (see right), there is hardly any significant difference in support for the EU (specifically, agreement that France is stronger by dint of its membership of the EU) across different age groups: 69% for the 18-24’s, ~60% for the 24-65’s, and 68% for the 65+s. However, there is a clear separation across party lines: Whereas 80% of the mainstream political forces support the EU, and 60% of Melenchon’s leftists, for the FN/Le Pen this figure is just above 20%. She is not going to get trainloads of Parisian hipsters hopping aboard by reversing her policies on the EU.
As regards economic policy, consider the basic fact of the election itself: The “neoliberal” candidates, Macron and Fillon, got 67% amongst the oldest age group, versus 27% amongst the young; in contrast, the basic income supporter Hamon and the commie Melenchon got 40%.
In tandem with the observation that the French have always been one of the most anti-capitalist nations, more so than even Russians, and considering who forms the core of the Front National’s support – blue-collar workers in the depressed post-industrial towns of the North-East rustbelt – it is absolutely clear that any significant shift towards a more neoliberal economic platform would be a disaster.
Note that all this is quite independent from any discussion about the purely economic merits of this or that economic platform. I would only make one last point that Le Pen’s economic platform is actually quite moderate in comparison with both that of Melenchon and Hamon.
Ultimately, I think Le Pen is just playing a bad hand just about as well as she could. Its just not enough to win this year, and I am now skeptical about 2022 as well.
Because in the end, a 2-7 offsuit will lose against any other hand.
That losing hand is the mentality of the French themselves, who have decided that one dead immigrant child washed up on their beaches through the neglect of his own parents is worse than having dozens of their own children blown up in the theaters of Paris or mowed down on the streets of Nice.
There are only one or two more decades left in which the French could continue indulging their ethnomasochism. After that, the preservation of the traditional French way of life – at least through democratic and constitutional means – will become permanently untenable.