Europe has enough democratic threats currently underway, but we cannot lose focus on efforts of democratic backsliding happening in France.
With all of the action occurring in Europe, between the crisis in Ukraine and the rising threats of political leaders in Hungary and Poland, the presidential election in France has taken a backseat from being reported on. However, this does not minimize the current threat building against France’s democracy.
Marine Le Pen, a far right politician, has been creeping closer the Presidential seat, after previously having lost to current President Emmanuel Macron in 2017. While other democratic threats have been labeled as more prevalent issues to cover, Le Pen’s threat to France’s democracy should not be overlooked. Le Pen’s campaign has run on Islamaphobic and other far-right policies, praising “traditional” French people. These iterations parallel recent French legislation minimizing the number of young, poorer, minority French citizens eligible to vote.
Le Pen has distanced herself from Putin in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but still purports pro-Russian rhetoric, and has proposed ending France’s deal to provide weapons to Ukraine. She has also chosen to let other members of her party speak on French Muslim and migration, while she speaks on other issues such as France’s economy and public services, yet she still aligns herself with these horrendous stances and will likely follow up on these ideals if elected.
Additionally, Le Pen’s threat to democracy goes beyond discriminatory stances and alliances, as her proposed policy on migration into France directly violates France’s constitution and its most basic democratic principles. Although her policy, which permits discrimination against foreigners within France via economic, cultural and social affairs.
Le Pen can attempt to dum down her democratic threats to nonthreatening alliances and right-wing rhetoric, yet when granted a position of power, her record suggests she will enact Islamophobic, polarizing, and purely anti-democratic legislation. Although far-right politicians do not typically carry majority support in France, Le Pen and her father Jean-Marie Pen, have taken extensive efforts in recent years to remove the negative connotations surrounding their far-right party, such as renaming the party from Front National to Rassemblement National and denouncing any labeling of her party as “far-right.”
Le Pen’s threat to democracy cannot be undermined, and Macron and his party must step up efforts to combat Le Pen’s rise. If not for the sake of their own party’s tentative future, then for the future of France’s democracy, and the hope that it will not be focused on racist, Islamophobic, and excluding discriminatory beliefs.