It’s been a case of third time unlucky for Madame Le Pen as French nationalism yet again failed to cross the electoral line in recent Presidential elections.
While stitched together by glue and cynicism, the neoliberal grand coalition of leftist and geriatrics beat the Rassemblement National to the post in a solid 59% win.
While Le Pen did see a sizable jump in percentage share it comes as little comfort for a country and nationalist movement looking fretfully at the demographic clock.
The feeling in Paris is that this was Le Pen’s final bite of the apple, with previous statements by the 53 year old veteran confirming this was her last opportunity to win the Presidency.
The loss has been further compounded by discord in the Le Pen dynasty as well as the emergence of the candidacy of Éric Zemmour and his new political party Reconquête.
Already attracting the defection of Le Pen’s niece Marion Maréchal, the world of French nationalism has been befuddled by an offer of an electoral pact between Zemmour’s Reconquête and Rassemblement national
For perspective not just Presidential elections but next June’s Parliamentary elections both operate under the same two stage system which enables anti-rightist consolidation as much as the race for the Élysée Palace.
Despite being the nation’s primary opposition party Rassemblement National attained a measly 8 out of 577 seats, crucified by the two stage vote in parliamentary as much as presidential elections.
Offering a ‘union des droites’ which would see a voting pact between nationalist voters of all stripes it is hoped by Zemmour that this will be enough to finally smash the cordon sanitaire placed on the radical right and enable nationalists to enter the chamber as the leading opposition party.
Firmly rejected by Le Pen loyalists, the olive branch is sure to unsettle an already rattled RN camp in the aftermath of the week’s defeat.
Such alliances are all the rage on the opposite side of the political spectrum helping to propel and sustain the French Left through tactical voting by Greens, Socialists and Communists under the Mélenchon banner.
While the Le Pen entourage are conscious of Zemmour’s long term goal of ousting the RN and their leader as the primary voice of French populism, such horsetrading is inevitable lest nationalists are to be locked out of parliamentary chambers and miss the chance of crippling a second term Macron regime.
In addition to this the prospect of getting a string of newly elected officials could do much to assist the RN’s fiscal woes, so bad that the party was infamously forced into a rather shady banking relationship with Putin’s Russia.
Lauded for taking hard right populism into the mainstream, the Le Pen dynasty has made many enemies on the French Right both for allegations of selling out, as well as the ironclad grip of the inner clique of the party.
The Byzantine family dynamics only add to the drama but the next few months shall have Marine Le Pen facing arguably the toughest challenges of her year as she steers the nationalist ship. Long the bridesmaid, never the bride of power.
While the efforts, grit and determination of the RN remains evermore commendable there are serious changes to be made should the party wish to get a stab of power before demographics take hold.
Against Zemmour to her right and the intricacies of remaining optically friendly in a country fast unravelling French nationalism walks a precarious tightrope the next year.