Before 23rd June 2016, the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union and Donald Trump becoming president of the United States seemed extremely unlikely, even laughable. Similar claims have previously been made about the likelihood of Marine Le Pen, French National Front Leader becoming president of France in the French elections in April 2017.
Polls suggest that Le Pen could easily make it through to the final run-off and Trump’s shock victory in the US presidential election has led prominent French politicians to warn that her victory could be the next political earthquake, unless her mainstream rivals get their act together.
Le Pen was one of the first to congratulate Trump on his victory and “heralded the dawn of a new order”. She did so with a tweet to the newly chosen president-elect and the American people in which she described them as now “free”. While she did not actively support Trump throughout the presidential campaign, Le Pen spoke widely of her dislike for Hilary Clinton.
Of course there are vast differences in the style of both elections, with Le Pen having to secure over 50% of the electorates votes to gain power. Moreover, Le Pen is not a new character or phenomena to the French political scene unlike Trump and “Brexit”. The National Front under her leadership has a track record and has never gained more than 30% of the popular vote. Therefore she has a track record and is a career politician, which as we could tell from the American presidential campaign, did not work in Hilary Clinton’s favour. Furthermore, the second round of the French election depends largely on the ability to make political deals and Le Pen does not appear to have any potential political allies.
The National Front party advocates withdrawal from the EU and dramatic cuts to immigration, but with such uncertainty of the economic effects of “Brexit”, the prospect of “Frexit” and leaving the Eurozone may be hard for Le Pen to campaign for. As even though Trump promised radical changes to the American trade and economic policy, he did not face the hurdle of selling a political change which may devalue the price of a voter’s home or pension funds.
However, it does seem that there is a global underlying trend of our generation’s democracy to vote in retaliation and reaction towards the perceived Left and everything associated with it. “The boundaries of reason disappeared with Brexit; the main lesson for France is that Le Pen can win” states Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former French Prime Minister.
The current favourite for the presidential role is another former Prime Minister, more central Right candidate, Alain Juppe. Juppe stressed to French citizens the Trump result “all the risks that democracy faces from demagogy and extremism and the critical nature of the choices they must make” in the upcoming election.
Meanwhile Jean-Marie Le Pen, previous leader of the National Front and father of Marine Le Pen has said, “Today the United States, tomorrow, France. Bravo!”