Monday, April 22, 2002

As I'm sure you've heard, Jean-Marie Le Pen of the far-right Front Nationale won second-place in the first round of French elections for President, meaning that the race will be between him and incumbent Gaullist Jacques Chirac, and that Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin is out of contention.

I'm of mixed feelings about this, though I do think that it's a welcome result. Jospin is a crypto-Communist, and represents the worst of what Americans think of when we visualize France. Le Pen, however, is essentially a Nazi. I can understand his frustration with immigrants coming to France, living on the government dole, and refusing to assimilate. However, from all reports, he's anti-Muslim (due to the aformentioned immigration), anti-Jewish (not like France was helping Israel anyway), and anti-American. While I'd like to see France become our friend again, I'm hesitant about someone who's openly opposed to the US. On the other hand, I'm not quite sure what America would actually lose if (yeah right) Le Pen were to be elected. Chirac is considered a conservative in France, but would still show up as pretty far left-wing on American radar. He's been...moderately...non-anti-American, but hey, he's still a French politician. He would still be the best choice for American interests, though a Le Pen presidency could give France a nice jolt and break them of their post-Revolutionary idiocy. Le Pen has virtually no chance, however, since virtually all other parties have thrown their support to Chirac. I think the question is how Chirac will run. He can be fairly sure that he'll win, so his truest colors may show, and he may drift left (or right, for that matter) given an almost assured victory. On the other hand, Jospin was defeated due to underestimating Le Pen, and so Chirac might do well to tack hard right in order to take potential swing-voters from the FN. After all, it's not as if the Greens, Socialists, Communists, etc. will support Le Pen instead. Chirac is going to sleep a lot better these days, knowing that it's virtually impossible for him to lose. You can bet that the left will abruptly cease all allegations of corruption against him. I'm not sure what would happen if he were convicted during his candidacy, but it's possible that Le Pen would win by default, though I suspect Jospin would face off against Le Pen by virtue of gaining third-place.

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