Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Insider's View of the FN

I have often felt that the Front National under Jean-Marie Le Pen was pro-Islam. This was not the original mission of the FN, of course, but as things evolved, as Le Pen became further and further removed from the wishes of his own party, he turned more and more to the group that his party was supposed to be opposed to, i.e., the Muslims. He (and his daughter Marine) also steered the party into more secular waters especially on those bioethical issues most crucial to Catholic voters. This may be "realpolitik" on his part or a betrayal of basic values. In any case these decisions did not win him any votes; au contraire, he lost more and more members and alienated more and more voters.

The following are excerpts from a long interview that took place before the EU elections on June 7 between an unnamed interviewer and former FN member Jeanne Dumont, who had just joined the breakaway Parti de France, headed by Carl Lang, who, himself, had recently split from the FN. The interview is hard to find on the web, and I had to rely on a Google cache:

- What are the causes of the decline of the FN?

- There are both external and internal causes.

The main external cause goes back to the presidential campaign of 2007, when Nicolas Sarkozy stole certain themes from the Front National to win over the FN voters. Therefore, we did not have the results that we had hoped for. That was followed by the fiasco in the legislative elections, which was very hard on the FN, because there was a psychological effect that demobilized the party workers and the electorate. Moreover, it was very hard on us financially, since 2/3 of the candidates did not receive 5% of the votes, and therefore were not reimbursed for their campaign costs. Finally, the system of financing the political parties is based on the results in the legislative election: each party receives a sum of money equivalent to 1.63 euro per vote received. So if you lose a million voters, you lose about 1.6 million euro per year...

The internal causes go back several years. There are reasons of substance and reasons of style, which are nonetheless closely tied. In terms of substance, there has been a certain weakening of the ideas of the Front National, a weakening of what I would call the foundations, among which are the defense of the family and in particular the fight against abortion. When Marine Le Pen is a guest on Radio Courtoisie, she does not say the same things that she says when she speaks on the major radio networks. Respect for human life is the alpha and the omega of good politics. Politics (...) is in the service of life.

Besides abortion, there is the fact that you can no longer speak of Islamization, or of a Christian identity... And yet, the Front National was the party that came closest to the Social Doctrine of the Church, and on certain points, this is no longer the case.

Note: The statement above is the first admission I know of from an insider that the FN does not accept the Islamization of France as a political issue. This does not mean that the FN is pro-immigration, only that it is not anti-Islam. Le Pen was always an immigration restrictionist, and he has always been reticent about criticizing Islam, a religion he seems to admire, although he has been known to denounce the illegal building of mosques. As for Christian identity, my own impression is that the FN espouses some Christian doctrines, but at the same time does not want to be associated in any way with the Church. The FN is essentially a republican, not a pre-revolutionary party. This again could be realpolitik. And yet so many FN members could not live with it.

For many people these ideas are accessories. But symbols do have their strength, and certain choices are not harmless. There was the decision to deliver a speech in Valmy to launch the presidential campaign. Valmy is a place highly symbolic of the Revolution. It was a volte-face when you compare it with Jean-Marie Le Pen's speech at Mont-Saint-Michel. Then there was the speech in Argenteuil (when Le Pen said to the immigrant residents): "You are branches of the tree of France, you are complete Frenchmen... For me you are neither "potes" (foreign pals), blacks or beurs (North Africans), you are French citizens", in his hope of gaining the Muslim immigrant population. Many voters took that as an act of betrayal.

There was also the famous poster (left) of the young North African girl. We don't complain about her being North African, of course, but it was her outfit, with the exposed navel, that gave a certain image of youth that is not the one traditionally upheld by the Front National! Moreover, they allowed Alain Soral into the party. After all he is a Marxist - he claims not to be but he is fundamentally informed by Marxism, and some of that affected the party's rhetoric. Yes, Soral has gone, but the damage has been done. And then there was this attempt to "undemonize" the FN, which proved to be a renunciation of the Front National's fundamental principles. In truth, we made Sarkozy's bed for him, and Sarkozy had no trouble winning over a large portion of our voters. As Martial Bild repeats: "When times are tough, there is no room for soft ideas."

Note: Bild was a major figure in the FN leadership.

She then describes the way Le Pen manipulated to have his daughter Marine (photo below) placed in the North voting district so that she would be the FN candidate in the EU elections instead of the natural choice of Carl Lang.

Gradually many FN leaders left in succession. What is regrettable is the violence of the language used against them and the baseness of the accusations hurled at them. Marine Le Pen would be much more credible when she calls others "profiteers" if she herself were willing to give up her wages as parliamentarian.

Jeanne Dumont then launches into a discussion of the new party formed by Carl Lang, le Parti de France, and her support for its founder and for his principles. She doesn't know if his party will survive, but she welcomes the opportunity to discuss issues openly once again:

We're going to have discussions again on the issues, something we longer had in the Front National. We organized our system of communication for the elections, but there was no open debate on ideas. After all, communication is something Sarkozy does also! When the only goal is an election and you no longer have open discussions on issues and ideas so that you know why you are fighting, I don't see why anyone would fight! Fight to get elected, of course, but get elected to do what?

She then discusses the EU elections that were set for June 7. Interestingly, she predicted that many would not come out to vote, a prediction that proved to be true. We know that 60% of the French people stayed home that day.

She ends on a generous note:

I want to say in conclusion that I do not renounce any part of the 21 years I spent in the Front National. I still acknowledge the tremendous qualities in Jean-Marie Le Pen that made him one of the great political men of his time. Furthermore, I had the great good fortune to work with people of quality, in an atmosphere of camaraderie and they still have all my esteem and my friendship. Life is long, and our political paths may cross again.

H/T: Le Salon Beige

A long discussion follows the post at Le Salon Beige.

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At August 22, 2009 2:36 PM, Anonymous dauphin_b612 said...

I don't know what the FN stands for anymore, so can well understand people leaving.

Legal immigrants are not "Frenchmen", they are citizens of the French Republic. Living for decades in Algeria did not make one Algerian, and no sane tribe around the world would allow its identity to be replaced or redefined through this kind of political correctness and pandering.

Anyway, you know my viewpoint, Tiberge. As much as I espouse traditional issues, a true "Rightest" party has no chance with the culture that has gone so far to the Left. In any case, we should reject any label of "extrême droite" and this is a question of persistent countering of this media spin. There are many on the Left, unionists, etc. (there for mostly economic reasons), who are concerned about immigration and identity, and I still feel one could create a Left-Right Coalition for these core issues, while still being an activist for other issues such as abortion, marriage, etc.

At August 23, 2009 6:20 AM, Blogger tiberge said...

@ dauphin,

You need an anti-Brussels, anti-immigration, pro-national preference party. The bioethical issues, as you say, would probably have to remain separate. But you must have your sovereignty first.

At August 23, 2009 11:57 AM, Anonymous dauphin_b612 said...

@ tiberge

Yes, that sums it up!

At August 23, 2009 1:16 PM, Anonymous eh said...

The current status of the FN in France is proof once again that the most important asset of any party is personable and effective leadership -- they just don't have enough likable faces. Especially for a party like the FN, which is no doubt (I'm not French and do not read French) vilified in the media the same way the BNP is in the UK.


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