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April 21st 2017 print

David Flint

Vive Madame Le Pen

Of all the candidates jostling to become the next president of France, The National Front leader is the only one who does not belong to the established political class which has wrought so much damage. She is not perfect, that's true, but she does offer the hope of much-needed change

marine le penThe exceptional candidate in the French presidential election is clearly Marine Le Pen. The many French residents who have had to leave France to find work in countries, some as far away as Australia, may well come to the conclusion that she will be more likely to offer solutions for France’s malaise than the usual run of politician. This could influence not only the way many will vote but also the opinions they give to those who remain at home. Many of them must have surely lost confidence in the French political class who have delivered massive youth unemployment, record and increasing  debt and government spending almost twice as much of the GDP, 60%, as even Australia’s governments.

Worse, through the European Union, they have completely mishandled immigration, importing into France an unassimilable, even dangerous, minority. This, of course, is not to describe all, or even most Muslims as unassimilable or dangerous. It is to lament the fact that in France and elsewhere it is next to impossible for moderate Muslims to attempt to achieve a reformation without risking their safety, even their lives and certainly their fortunes, as well as their families. Only Marine Le Pen makes an issue of this and offers a serious, if harsh, solution.  This has forced lesser politicians to make noises unconvincingly suggesting that they, too, will take some vague and unknown action to deal with the problem.

Of all the candidates, she is the one most likely to restore France as a sovereign state with sound and secure borders, as free of the tutelage of the Brussels Eurocrats as the United Kingdom will be with Brexit. Australians will recall that the central feature of national sovereignty was famously and succinctly described by their great statesman, John Howard, as the power to decide who comes into the  country and the circumstances in which they come. Without that, a country is not sovereign. It is no more than a mere province, a protectorate or a satrapy.

There is one important aspect of Marine Le Pen’s leadership of the National Front which must be mentioned. From the time she succeeded her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, she has softened the awful anti-Semitic image he gave to the party. This is not opportunistic, it is from the heart — and unlike many such expressions from politicians, it is practical. Those of us from Anglophone countries will usually not appreciate how ingrained this virus has been in France and how brutal its practice was, even without Nazi pressure, during  the Second World War. Marine Le Pen has finally reversed the way this had tainted her party by presenting the National Front not just as reformed but as the most effective protector, rather than the persecutor, of the Jews. In an interview in 2014 she said that in comparison with other political parties, the National Front “is without a doubt the best shield to protect you against the one true enemy, Islamic fundamentalism.”

The Australian‘s economics correspondent Adam Creighton recently revealed, courageously for a journalist, that if he were French he would vote for Le Pen. I agree. Although we both studied law at the Sorbonne Law School in Paris (Université Panthéon-Assas at, obviously, different times)  I have never met Marine Le Pen, but she is impressive. Not to vote for her, Adam Creighton writes, would be to endorse the French political and economic elites that have sapped the life out of industry, put the Fifth Republic on track for bankruptcy, forced taxpayers to bail out parasitic banks, and left the country exposed to Islamist terrorism. I agree entirely with this reasoning.

France is ready, indeed over-ready, for a Le Pen administration. If this does not come, the French are unlikely to accept for long the absence of at least a serious attempt at the top to solve the problems imposed on them by the elites. France does not  have a peaceful and calm history in matters political. In the time that Australia evolved, in relative tranquillity, from a penal colony into a collection of self-governing communities which peacefully united into a nation, France has lived through a violent revolution and a reign of terror, followed by a bewildering range of constitutional models. These have included not one but five republics, not one but two constitutional monarchies, not one but two empires and, fortunately, only one fascist regime, but with the serious threat of at least two others.

When the second round of the 2002 presidential election pitted not the usual conservative against a socialist but the conservative Jacques Chirac against the National Front’s Jean-Marie Le Pen, there were demands for the dissolution of the Fifth Republic and its replacement by a new and radically different Sixth Republic. The result was that the Socialist voters, some ostentatiously putting pegs on their noses or rubber gloves on their hands, voted for Chirac, reciting a very French election motto, ”Vote for the crook and not the fascist”.

Because of the unworthy adulation attributed to the revolution has in the national consciousness, however appalling and unnecessary that it was, the French reaction to any crisis – and just about any political problem is presented as a crisis – is to go into the streets and demonstrate, often violently and with the open purpose of bringing down the government and the constitution. This means that the political fabric in France is not as strong as in the Anglophone countries, at least until recently in United States where the political class, the mainstream media and the Democratic party have been unusually and dangerously unwilling to accept the obvious fact that they lost the 2016 election.

This may be the last chance for the Fifth Republic, just as in 1940 the German invasion was the last chance for the Third Republic, or just as the rebellion of the French Army in Algiers in 1958 was the last chance for the Fourth Republic or, indeed, the 1968 uprising against Charles de Gaulle seemed at the time to be the last chance for the Fifth Republic.

That Fifth Republic had been designed for de Gaulle in 1958 as an elected ( initially indirectly) long-term monarchy tenuously and to us unwisely grafted onto the Westminster system, although in recent years the presidential term has been reduced seven to five years. The weakness in the system will become obvious should Marine Le Pen be elected. This will inevitably lead to a period of what is called ”cohabitation”. This is where a President from one party, endowed with considerable prerogatives including the extraordinary power to dissolve the parliament shares power with an executive responsible to that parliament when it is controlled by another party or parties. Should she win, this will no doubt limit her power to fulfil her agenda.  (Incidentally, it is little appreciated in Australia that the first republican model Malcolm Turnbull brought to the 1998 Constitutional Convention would have turned Australia into something like a Fifth Republic. The republicans took no notice of my warning until the former judge and Victorian governor, Dick McGarvie presented a different view. Malcolm Turnbull’s second model, the one which went to the 1999 referendum was just as flawed, but in a different way.)

In any event, voting in this election will begin with a first round on Sunday April 23, 2017. It is certain that no candidate will obtain over 50% of the vote and, therefore, there will need to be a second round. This is scheduled to be held on Sunday, May 7. It will be between the two leading contenders from the first round.

Until recently, the polling was suggesting that Marine Le Pen and the former socialist minister and now leader of the new centrist party, Emmanuel ”En Marche!”( Forward)” Macron would lead in the first round. Then it is predicted by the establishment that left wing and conservative voters will come together and vote for Macron, thus ensuring that Marine Le Pen is defeated, just as her father was in 2002 . Macron is very presentable and popular, but his policies will be just more of the same.

This prediction may be not be fulfilled for at least two reasons. First, there is the shyness of many National Front supporters, who may be reluctant to reveal their intentions to the pollsters. Second, some surveys suggest that while National Front supporters are strongly committed to Marine Le Pen, those who indicate support for the handsome but untested Macron may not be so strongly attached to him.

In the meantime, according to the latest polling, both have slipped back and the Republican Francois Fillon and the far left (and probably communist)  Jean-Luc Melenchon cannot now be written off. Some polls say they are within three points of Le Pen and Macron. In addition, on one poll , 35% of voters are undecided.  So even the first round is,  according to the pollsters, difficult to predict.

The fact is, Marine Le Pen  aside, all of the other candidates belong to the same political class who have brought France to her present situation. None of them proposes any significant solution to break this mould.

If this election and the following administration does not provide an answer to the present serious impasse in France, and in particular in relation to the economy and to the terrorist forces who threaten the fabric of French society, on all past indications the French may follow this with demands for a radical solution involving the downfall of the Fifth Republic.

Comments [27]

  1. Warty says:

    I cannot challenge your argument regarding the need for a Marine Le Pen, other than the likelihood she’ll increase France’s fiscal problems rather than heal them (but they are the least of France’s many discomforts).
    Like it or not, some time or other, we will all have to realise that we are at war with Islam, and by ‘all’ I mean here in Australia, more so in Britain and equally so in Europe as a whole. Even the forthright, intelligent, credentialed David Flint offers the same cold stew: ‘this of course, is not to describe all, or even most Muslim’s as unassailable or dangerous.’ Strong statements followed by pussy willow ones, clad in ‘furry catkins’ though they be, so not address the point that few Muslims ever stand up for the values that ought to have been insisted upon, before any of them ever set foot in this country to begin with.
    Certainly France dropped her pants when she declared, what we would have called colonies, as part of France proper, as did the Portuguese, enabling unrestricted access to not only the motherland, but also to the bucket loads of revolutionary codswallop in her universities. There you have Indochine (French spelling) with its radical intellectuals learning about Egalite, fraternite and liberte (forgive the lack of accent aigu) and then to treat them like peasants in their own country. Weird. Their gratitude results in the khmer rouge and the likes of Pol Pot, all seriously unhinged, but keen to be Napoleon Bonapartes, every one of them.
    We are living in times when the normal legal niceties are now open to question (as they become when a state of emergency is called). Some of us can see the fifth column in our midst, the neo Marxists who soothe a looming catastrophe with moral relativism, followed by the laxative called ‘identity politics’. We can see that, but are resigned to allowing the police, followed by the MSM who repeatedly tell us that some misunderstood fella simply forgot his GPS device and drove down the mall killing 7 people and injuring 49 others. No, he didn’t call out Allahu Akbar at the end of his little jaunt, the witness was misinformed, and the others too terrified to support him in his claim.
    Nope, we should simply lie down and hate ourselves and a bunch of white post colonialists and take our medicine quietly.

  2. David Flint says:

    I appreciate your courteous and thoughtful reply, Warty. I thought my reference to the moderate Muslims reflected what is actually happening. It is risky if not dangerous for them to go on the record and criticise the extremists. That said, its fair also to acknowledge that studies show there is a goodly amount of Muslims who although not terrorists. approve in whole or part what the terrorists do. I didn’t think it relevant to the Le Pen piece, so I didn’t say Australian politicians have to be extremely careful in bringing in immigrants.

    One of the problems is the oil wealth of the Wahabis and Shiites who as a result are able to influence other parts of the Muslim world which were once very moderate.

    You are right to raise the question of changing the legal regime when terrorists are waging a war on us. We did this in the world wars. At some stage the protection of our society requires this and the constitution authorises it. How appalling that our leaders let it happen.Thanks again for a stimulating comment.

  3. Warty says:

    David, your thoughts on moderate Muslims is indeed reflective of what goes on on the surface, but as you are aware, with the focus on ‘wife beating’ and its understanding in the Qur’an (4:34), particularly on the Bolt Show, has put a degree of focus on the text per se, instead of the ideas of individual Muslims. Few would contest the notion that the Qur’an is central to being a practising Muslim.
    One of my understandings of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Heretic, is that it is a bit of a misnomer talking of a Muslim as being ‘moderate’: one either believes in the strictures of the Qur’an or one doesn’t. This is part of the reason Tony Abbot called for a ‘revolution’ within Islam and why he drew comparisons with our own ‘Reformation’. The suggestion was that the problem was the text itself, which entrenches tribal beliefs and customs of the 7th Century and earlier. So, for the likes of you and me, we don’t actually know what is ‘actually happening’ as far as moderate Muslims are concerned, simply because we are confused as to what they actually are.
    If I can quote Elie Kedourie, an emigrant student of Arab politics, in The Australian, way back on the 19th May, 2003: “The idea of representation, of elections, of popular suffrage, of political institutions being regulated by laws laid down by a parliamentary assembly, of these laws being guarded and upheld by an independent judiciary, the ideas of the secularity of the state ….All these are profoundly alien to the Muslim political tradition.” Now the average Muslim walking down Haldon st, the main drag in Lakemba, would not necessarily be thinking specifically along these lines, but their understanding of the Qur’an is indeed largely based on their Imam’s instruction, and what Imam worth his salt would consider the Westminster system superior to Sharia?
    My concern is that the Liberal Party doesn’t fully address the central teachings of the Qur’an and their place in the lives of ‘moderate Muslims’. The Labor Party lags even further behind, and they have the added problem in having a number of predominantly Muslim electorates.
    What you say about the Saudi Wahhabis sect and the Iranian Shia is indeed so: their funding have had a significant effect on the radicalisation within the various Madrasa.This in turn has influenced countless Muslims and their attitudes towards the West. The rest is history.

  4. Keith Kennelly says:

    So our politicians are addressing the future of immigration. If that goes the same way as everything Rudd oops Turnbull has attempted then it will fail.

    But hey fellas, it is those already here that are the problem.

    As I have said before; Islam is a bomb with 1.6 billion potential fuses.

    That is what needs addressing.

    Le Penn will likely romp home in France. All the usual suspects in the polls and the media say it will be close … in the first round yet 30% say they haven’t made up their minds. The ‘experts’ in the media say she will be trounced in the second round when both left and right will combine to to defeat her. That was how her father was beaten.

    I think unlike her father she has policies, other than immigration and security, attractive to her followers, moderate right and left wingers.

    • Don A. Veitch says:

      Left right means nothing now.
      Melenchon (alleged far left) and Le Pen (alleged far right) both want to: leave the euro; profoundly reform EU; social policies for workers; detente with Russia; leave NATO; defend nation sovereignty; anti-internationalist.

      Immigration? Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion. Gays are flooding to her banner.

      • PT says:

        As they should Don.

      • Okay, it’s le Pen vs Macron in the second round. Le Pen may have more of a chance than most of us assume. What’s the bet that supporters of Melenchon will now back le Pen ? As well as the supporters of the other fringe-’Left’ candidates ? ‘Trotskyites for le Pen !’ I suspect that Macron will still make it over the line, with Hamon supporters and most Fillon supporters favouring him.

  5. Patrick McCauley says:

    Having already lost out to the new PC moralities through subterfuge ( without even realising we were at ‘war’) … we may have to fight the Islamist war before we are able to address the ‘war’ between the Judeo Christians and the new moralists. Yet the new moralities require that Islam is the Religion of Peace … and enable massive Islamic immigration ( even in the face of daily/weekly terrorism). We have two enemies and only one fighting force. Neither enemy is visible and neither has officially declared war. We are so divided by moralities that many have forgotten who we are. What our ‘virtues’ are – what our ‘values’ are. The time for ‘patriotism’ faces a post national global cabal of moralists who declare ‘nationalism’ to be ‘fascism’. We must once again find the patriotism and ‘values’ that drove our parents and grandparents into the jungles of New Guinea to fight the Japanese.

    • whitelaughter says:

      We won’t win against the Islamists without re-establishing a respect for basic values – and the simplest way to do that is to force the relativists to live their lies. As a simple example: imagine if the ABC and SBS were forcibly relocated to Saudi Arabia, and their staff forced to live there (and not in gated communities, but in Saudi society). When they scream, point out that we know that Islam is the religion of peace/most feminist religion – because the ABC have told us so – and so clearly they have nothing to complain about. Rinse, repeat. Islam allows for truces of up to a decade with nations paying tribute, so we can let them enslave our moral relativists as tribute: and let the different branches of Islam slaughter each other to determine who gets that tribute.

    • PT says:

      These “moralists” are just so stupid and arrogant to assume those of the Islamist persuasion will follow their lead!

  6. Don A. Veitch says:

    Marine Le Pen, in my humble opinion, has the best pro-people, anti-elite, economic policies (banking, Frexit, home market, infrastructure), but keep an open mind on such things – Trump is backsliding and has ‘forgotten’.
    She is NOT a nationalist, because she supports some French against other French and has Vichy roots and tendencies. You cannot be a true French patriot and reject refugees/cityoen from Empire, Indo-Chinese, African, Algerians etc.). Gaullists, the true nationalists, have melted away.
    Leave the Eurozone to the Germans.
    And what’s so wrong with Napoleon Bonaparte – he ended the thousand year scourge of feudalism in Europe (but, unfortunately not in fair Anglo-Saxon, Norman dominated England)?
    My prediction is she will win the first round (the protest vote), but crash in the second (incapable of alliance).
    Vive De Gaulle!

    • PT says:

      Don, she IS a nationalist. Why shouldn’t a French politician be a French Nationalist? Ghandi, for all his admiration of aspects of Brit civilisation was an Indian nationalist!

  7. Elle says:

    An excellent piece, Mr Flint.

    As Keith said, it is those already here that are the problem. The day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon a colleague and I had to go to a medical centre in Lakemba here in Sydney to investigate a report of female genital mutilation. The waiting room was full of Muslim women and children waiting to see the doctor. As we were waiting to be taken through the news came on the tele in the waiting room highlighting what had occurred the night before, with visions of the twin towers being hit and collapsing to the ground. Every single person in the waiting room, children included – some in prams – erupted into cheers, laughter and that hideous ululation. It was enough we were there to interview a poor girl who had been mutilated, we were also subject to a bunch of laughing hyenas whose laughter, we all know, masked their hatred of us “infidels”. Those children who were in that waiting room are now walking our streets.

  8. Trog says:

    Thanks again for a very enlightening article on the upcoming French election. I follow your essays and comments regularly and always find them interesting and often compelling.

    Your conversations with Warty in this piece are some of the best I’ve read on Islam and the issues it presents to the West.

    I am totally convinced that support for the Jihadists and Sharia Law in a “Caliphate” is the core message of Islam to hundreds of millions of its followers.

    Sure there are those followers who wish it wasn’t so but they risk death to themselves and their families if they speak out – - – so silence ensues for perhaps the majority of followers. The Imams invariably follow the doctrinal party line because to do otherwise is to “deny the word of God” and we all know what that means.

    For these reasons I think it madness to offer safe haven for the religion here. People have and will die as a result and it is a war in all but declaration.

    As an example of the malaise of the West I point to “the Young Pope” a TV series currently showing. I could only bear to watch 15 minutes. As a very poor example of a Protestant Christian myself yet still a “believer” I was appalled at its content. The Pope is effectively the Anti-Christ and the Cardinals are a species of demon with not the faintest sliver of morality or christian kindness. It is beautifully shot in sumptuous surroundings, is visually splendid and has enjoyed largely laudatory reviews.

    I despair. Pick a Mufti, any Mufti, run the same plot and enjoy the widespread riots and carnage that would circumnavigate the globe.

    Why is it that Christianity is held in such contempt and Islam is sacrosanct in the Arts community today? Same as with the moderate Muslims my guess – self preservation. If only it could be openly admitted it could then go a long way to a solution.

    • David Flint says:

      Thank you Elle.A frightening story about the waiting room. Surveys seem to suggest that support for Islamist attacks are greater than we would hope.
      When I was young I lived in a Muslim country, Morocco for close on three years. It all seemed very civilized with quite large foreign and Jewish communities. I believe most of the Jews have since left for France or Israel, more because they felt there was no future there. I suspect there was also a fear of a radical government overthrowing the monarchy.
      The politicians must be very careful with immigration. And in a state of war, which the French are experiencing, a government has to use wartime powers to deal with the situation.
      David

      • David Flint says:

        Trog,
        Thank you. I am still trying to work out The Young Pope. They seem to be trying to shock viewers by the unlikely things he says, but its beginning to wear thin. But as you say, sumptuous surroundings.
        I agree. Its so dangerous for Muslims who don’t want to support the Islamists.
        So the politicians, who brought us the problem, have to be careful. After I wrote the piece I was a comment by Macron in Le Monde where he had praised Merkel for her humanity. I think she lost the moral authority to be Chancellor.
        David

  9. padraic says:

    Phew! There is enough in the original article and subsequent comments for me to write a book, but I’ll try to be bref. I agree with David, Adam Creighton and Warty and the others that Le Pen is what’s needed for contemporary France, so I hope she wins. As Warty says, it was a mistake that following the granting of independence to its colonies France still tried to hang on with the result that they are now in a state of “revenge” colonisation. Once a country was independent, they had got what they wanted (and I have no objection to that) but now they are on their own and have to sink or swim like the rest of us. I also agree with David on tarring all Muslims with the same brush is a bit unfair as there are many who support the separation of religion and secular state (as in Egypt) and this is well covered by Ali in her book “Heretic”. I also know this from having known Muslims as fellow human beings and working with them. But the point is well made that not all are “nice” and why do we tolerate the “bad guys” amongst them in our presence or let in obvious extremists? There is no doubt that Western countries are at war with those who want the Caliphate and have declared war on us. How much more convincing do we need after 7/11, the French, Spanish, British, German, Swedish killings of innocent citizens and our own experience in Sydney and recently in Melbourne before action is taken. In both World Wars “Enemy Aliens” were either rounded up or closely monitored in Australia and USA and not released until the war was over. We should apply the “duck principle” to Islamists in Australia and those who qualify should be either locked up or deported. This pussy footing around the issue and yielding to the Left’s self loathing concept of conflating Islamist violence with so called colonial resentment is garbage. You don’t see Tanzanians or Zambians blowing up buses in London. I disagree with David on the question of Australia having our own Head of State and his assertion that the French Revolution was unnecessary or wrong. If that was the case then the American Revolution was wrong and Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man” is wrong. A lot of the problems in France post-Revolution were due to interference from the crowned heads of other European countries who feared they might suffer the same fate. But otherwise, congratulations on an excellent and timely article.

    • David Flint says:

      Padraic,
      I don’t think there would have been a War of Independence if men like Pitt and Burke had been in the government. As for the French Revolution everything necessary had been achieved after the Tennis Court Oath and the National Assembly had established a constitutional monarchy under the inoffensive and harmless King. I think Burke’s Reflections says it all.

      As for constitutional change in Australia, it has to address a proven problem, provide a solution and demonstrably improve the governance of Australia.
      David

      • padraic says:

        Thank you David, for your excellent comments. I also read your letter in the Australian the other day about the ARM not having a model and fully agree that not having a model will not advance their cause. At least, John Howard, despite his views on the issue, did the right thing and arranged for the Convention which came up with a workable model and for that he has been pilloried unjustly. I apologise for the typo of 7/11 instead of 9/11 in my comments. Perhaps I need one of their $1 coffees to improve my mental acuity.

        • David Flint says:

          Padraig,
          Thank you. The republicans were quite nasty to John Howard for the chance he gave them. He didn’t rig the convention. Of the small number in his gift they were overwhelmingly republican. He chose the eminent, the young and the indigenous.The republicans chose the model and they chose the question although they allege he did.

          The problem is the republican majority (not Ted Mack and the late Clem Jones) are not interested in improving governance only in getting rid of the Queen.

          David

          • Doubting Thomas says:

            Just following that hare, I am heartened by the fact that the ARM have selected as their leader someone who exhibits almost exactly the same personality deficiencies as their previous leader who did so much to destroy their hopes and aspirations last time the issue went to a vote. The fact that they appear not to have learnt from their past mistakes, and their behaviour since Pirate Pete assumed the leadership suggests they are incapable of learning that arrogant condescension is no substitute for reasoned argument. Thus, I’m reasonably confident that we will not see a republic in my lifetime.

  10. Don A. Veitch says:

    Trump recently bombed his own anti-ISIS/Nusra side in Syria on trumped up ‘evidence’, just when the caliphate was on its knees. Why did Trump congratulate Erdogan, after the referendum, Erdogan dreams of being the new Caliph.
    Why does the USA support terrorists in Syria?
    Why does the USA support the terrorist efforts of the Saudis?
    Why cant the USA co-operate with Russia to put down the terrorist scourge, refugee flood and chaos in the middle east?

    • Warty says:

      Very good questions, Don.

      • Don A. Veitch says:

        And the answer? Somewhere around Deep State and Obama’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is HQ for terrorism. Fillon and Le Pen have raised that issue in the election. Trump must purge the armed forces of about 200 treasonous Generals, then rip the CIA into a thousand pieces (as JFK promised). Then terrorism will end.

  11. whitelaughter says:

    I hope you are right, but Le Pen’s call for the banning of the Yarmulke suggests that her shedding of antiSemiticism is only for show.

    • David Flint says:

      Whitelaughter,

      Not a good idea but its part of her call to stop the wearing of religious symbols in public.That would include the cross too. I would argue there is a difference between religious symbols and the burqa especially in banks, courts etc.
      David