Le Pen Win May Prompt France's Exit From International Affairs

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1044234.shtml | 作者: Cui Hongjian | 时间: 2017-04-28 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
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Sunday witnessed a historical result in the first round of tight France's 2017 presidential race. An outsider candidate, Marine Le Pen, head of the French far-right Front National (FN) party, defeated candidates of the established parties of the left and right, and made it to the second round of the election with 21.3 percent of the vote.


Le Pen's success is driven by several factors. To begin with, the FN in France has gone through many years of development and has gradually expanded its influence in the country. Moreover, in recent years, an increasing number of social contradictions, internal and external difficulties have disappointed the French people.


Le Pen has taken advantage of the widespread dissatisfaction French people have with the mainstream parties, and advocated to focus more on France's national interests and opposed free trade, which helped her attract more support from the public.


In addition, the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election has largely inspired Le Pen and her party. She obviously learned some strategies and campaign techniques from Trump, including putting forward the "France first" slogan.


By proposing "France first," Le Pen attributes France's current internal and external dilemma to poor governance of the mainstream parties, such as criticizing them for ignoring French people's well-being.


Le Pen has constantly promoted far-right ideas to French citizens, and turned their dissatisfaction into a strong desire to overturn the existing system. It can be said one outstanding characteristic of France's 2017 presidential election is people's desire for change and a fresh start.


There are two main characteristics in Le Pen's policies. One is that she blames all the problems France is facing on external factors. She rejects integration and globalization. The other is that she advocates nationalism. However, once the emphasis on nationalism becomes extreme, it can lead to dangerous consequences and develop into dangerous populism, just like what happened in Germany before WWII.


Policies based on nationalism may not take feasibility and effectiveness into consideration. For example, Le Pen claims to strengthen border controls and enhance restrictions on foreign entry. Nevertheless, France is located in Europe and is surrounded by EU countries. Opposing integration and restricting the flow of people will not help its economic growth, which, in turn, is contrary to Le Pen's proposal for safeguarding the interests of France.


If Le Pen were to be the new president and put her ideas into practice, it would exert detrimental influences on Europe and all over the world. The nation's new political trend will spill over to some neighboring countries and further the spread of populism within Europe. What's worse, as a core member of the EU, France embracing populism can severely damage the integration of Europe.


France is a major power in the world. After Brexit, France is now the only country left in the EU which is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council. If a far-right leader would become the president of France, it is unlikely that France would play a positive role in regional and international affairs.


The similarity between Le Pen and Trump has ignited concerns among the mainstream elites in Western countries. Previously, Trump's victory may be argued as an anomaly, yet now, the possibility of Le Pen's victory demonstrates that populism has not been contained. It has spread to Western Europe.



The author is Senior Research Fellow and the Director of European Studies, China Institute of International Studies.



Source: Global Times, April 26, 2017.