What does the French Presidential Election Tell Us?

The French presidential election is now over and Emmanuelle Macron has walked away with about 65% of the winning vote. In the eyes of many, it was going to be a close call between the moderate-center Macron and the far-right Le Pen. In the end, it was the former which ended up with the majority of the runoff votes.  The public has firmly placed their support behind him and his pledge to bring the country together to solve its long-standing social and economic problems. Whether or not he will accomplish this goal remains to be seen. What we do know is that this has been the most unpredictable presidential election in France in a long time.

This election showed us something significant about the state of the first world workers in France. The left told us that the French workers were rising and that they were going to push the “radical leftist” Jean-Luc Mélenchon into power. The social and economic situation in France has deteriorated since the global recession of 2008. A degree of immiseration has struck France. Across the country, leftist groups were declaring that this was their time and that they were going to wield significant power via the bourgeois state. This is not what happened at all.

Third Worldist theory holds that the first world capitalist countries tend towards reaction and fascism during times of crisis, not spontaneous class consciousness as classical Marxism claims. It is significant that the runoff vote came down to a centrist candidate and a far-right one.  The “radical left” was left behind. There has been a definite rightward shift, even if it has been a moderate one.

The left in France claimed that the “workers” of the country were going to support a leftist candidate. According to data collected by the electorate, those who voted for Le Pen were not whom they expected. It seems that the more so-called progressive sectors of the country voted for reaction, for Le Pen. Working class people voted in the majority for the far-right, whereas the middle class and professionals voted for Macron. The so-called masses of France have not gone in the direction that the left claimed they would. Again we see the opposite.

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Interestingly, it seems a third of LGBT individuals said they would be voting for Le Pen. Many have asked why they would vote for a candidate and party so openly opposed to their own social group. The answer primarily lies in their fear of immigrants and refugees. Generally speaking, these LGBT individuals are fearful of prejudices that these refugees carry with them. They reach out to far-right fascists, end up being self-destructive, because of their own prejudices. This speaks very much to the pinkwashing of imperialism that has taken place in the last few years or so. Opposition to the global poor has come out of the LGBT community manifested in support of imperialism.

Although the populist Le Pen did not gain a victory in the election, we should not dismiss her campaign altogether. Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warns that such figures are still dangerous for the society at large.

“It comes in a wave of elections in which we’re seeing populists have a great deal of power,” she said on Sunday. “But I think we’d make a mistake if we see populist candidates who don’t win and then we think it’s had no effect.”

“I really do believe that these populists are changing the character of the politics just by being there, so even mainstream candidates are having to respond to their agenda,” said Rice.

It cannot be denied that many populists have appeared in the last year or so. The election of Donald Trump to US president has emboldened many of these would-be leaders. Fascism seems determined to remain a real threat in first world countries.

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