The Guardian • Issue #2003

Fascism on the rise

Macron and Le Pen face off in the 2022 French presidential election

Marine Le Pen. (Photo: Emmanuel d’Aubignosc – CC BY 3.0)

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will once again face off in the second round of the French presidential election in a repeat of the 2017 election.

The first round marked an increase in fascist support in France. While Le Pen’s 23.2 per cent of votes was only an increase of 1.9 per cent from her 2017 showing, far-right competitor Eric Zemmour placed fourth with 7.1 per cent of votes.

This puts combined far-right support at 30.3 per cent, a 9 per cent increase from 2017.

President Macron once again won the first round, receiving 27.9 per cent. Close behind Le Pen in third place with 22 per cent of the vote was the left-wing, anti-NATO Eurosceptic Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The 2022 election saw a further destruction of the traditional parties of the French left and right. After receiving 20 per cent of the vote in 2017, the mainstream centre-right party Les Républicains collapsed to fifth place with only 4.8 per cent of votes.

Importantly, candidates with less than five per cent support do not have their campaign costs reimbursed by the French state.

This comes after the 2017 election saw the demise of the long-time centre-left opposition Socialist Party (PS), essentially splitting in two with the right under Macron and the left under Mélenchon.

This trend continued, with Mayor of Paris and Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo coming in a dismal 10th place with only 1.8 per cent of the vote.

This in turn created history, with French Communist Party (PCF) leader Fabien Roussel beating the Socialist Party for the first time in history, coming in 8th with 2.3 per cent of votes. This was the first time the PCF contested the election since 2007 when it won 1.93 per cent of the vote.

Environmentalism also saw an increase in support, with Yannick Jadot from Europe Ecology – The Greens coming in 6th place with 4.6 per cent of votes.

French voters are rapidly abandoning the traditional political mainstream. While much of this support has filtered to the far-right, much of it has made its way to anti-establishment leftist Mélenchon and his France Unbowed movement.

A former Trotsykist and long-time Socialist Party politician, Mélenchon quit the PS in 2008 to form a broad left group supported by the French Communist Party until this election.

Mélenchon calls for the creation of a new, more democratic constitution and the founding of a new 6th French Republic. Proposals include electing parliament by proportional representation, allowing citizens to initiate legislation and referendums, allowing citizens to recall politicians, and abolishing special powers that allow the French executive to pass legislation without parliamentary approval.

In addition, Mélenchon supports France leaving NATO and reforming EU Treaties to allow France to enact left-Keynesian economic reforms.

However, the French left’s inability to centre around a sole-candidate has likely cost them a shot at contesting the second round.

With polls predicting a far-narrower contest between Macron and Le Pen than in 2017, it is clear that neoliberal “centrism” is doing little to prevent the growth of fascism.

In fact, it demonstrates clearly the failure of bourgeois politics, radicalising society both leftwards and rightwards.

In order to prevent fascism, the left must organise and combat it.

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