National Front’s result ‘major victory but not as huge as it was anticipated’

Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Marine le Pen’s National Front did well in the local elections in France but there is a sense of dissatisfaction as they won in no single Department, Pierre Guerlain, a professor of political science at Paris West University, told RT.

According to exit polls after the second round of local elections in France the center-right alliance led by Nicolas Sarkozy scored an unconditional victory. The anti-immigration National Front Party led by Marine le Pen also made major gains. However the ruling Socialists with Francois Hollande at the head were defeated.

In two years France will have a presidential election.

RT:Are you surprised by the election results?

Pierre Guerlain: Actually I’m not really surprised. All opinion polls predicted more or less this kind of situation. In fact the polls predicted an even wider victory for the National Front. So I guess today they did well but there is a sense of dissatisfaction all the same because they won in no single Department. It’s a major victory but not as huge as was anticipated for them.

Pierre Schweitzer, Political Analyst comments on local elections in France: “The biggest surprise is that the National Front is not that high as expected. They were already counting their chickens before the elections. They were already predicted by the polls as the biggest winner [with] around 30 percent and now we see that it’s the traditional right wing party UMP that is around 30 percent and the National Front is between 20 and 30. It’s still quite high but the deception, the disappointment is giving a bitter taste to this relatively good score of the National Front.”

RT:Do you think Francois Hollande has a chance to recover and regain voter support?

PG: In politics you can never say what’s going to happen in a week. A week is a long time in politics as a famous British politician said. So you can never know because now we have three major blocks in France: the National Front, the traditional right and the left around the Socialist party and we don’t know how this game is going to be played out in two years. But today it looks very bad for Hollande and the Socialist party of course.

READ MORE: ‘Magnificent success’: Le Pen praises France’s National Front party’s result at local elections

RT:Why is the National Front gaining momentum then?

PG: One reason is that Hollande was elected on a left-wing platform and immediately implemented economic policies that corresponded more to the right. So he’s doing the policy of the right. And a lot of people who supported him are dissatisfied. That’s one factor. The other factor is that there is a crisis affecting the poor, middle-class people. They feel they’ve tried the right, they’ve tried the left - nothing works. So they want something new and therefore they project their dissatisfaction onto immigrants or in some cases onto Europe. And Europe is not helping by not adopting policies that would help people lower down the scale.

Pierre Schweitzer, Political Analyst comments on the possible outcome of the next presidential elections in France: “Everything is possible from now on. [The National Front] can definitely go higher; they are definitely a threat to the other parties for 2017. During the campaign for these elections Manuel Valls, the Prime Minister, was pointing at the National Front as the biggest enemy, the number one fight for him…Now we see that the UMP was the biggest threat. But in 2017 everyone is expecting the National Front to be at the second round of the elections just as it happened in 2002 which was a terrible blow in France at the time”

RT:France is not the only country where the influence of the Right is growing. Parties like Alternative for Germany or the Finns are gaining voters. Is this set to continue?

PG: There is definitely a protest vote in many European countries. But in some European countries like Greece or Spain the protest vote is on the left. You have people dissatisfied because Europe is not helping them in their daily life. So they don’t understand its difficult negotiations, the treaties and so on. But they look at the situation and they feel that it’s not improving. So when they are in Spain they vote against the government which is a right-wing government. When they are in France they are tempted by the right and in Germany it’s a so called soft-right, so there is a more radical party which is not as strong as the National Front in France.

RT:France's Presidential elections are in two years? Do you think Marine Le Pen has a chance?

PG: As you know it’s an election that takes place in two rounds. In the first round you have all the candidates, in the second round – only two candidates. I think the National Front has a good chance to be one of the two in the second round but still it’s unlikely, and the results of these elections seem to indicate that the National Front will still win. So [Marine Le Pen] will probably be there, in the second round, but as things are now it’s not likely she will be elected.

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