While the media highlights main frontrunners in the French presidential race, small parties with an increasing following are not only ignored but their candidates are overtly criticized and disrespectfully mocked by so-called independent state media, France 2, France Inter and others. Presumably, their hostility springs from their bewilderment at changing paradigms in people’s view of politics and their inability to handle any position which does not fit into the usual right/left, far-right/left and centrist categories.
In the case of Francois Asselineau, founder of UPR (Union Populaire Republicaine) mainstream media journalists may just be swept off their feet by his encompassing deep knowledge of absolutely every single aspect of French politics, history, economy, law, the Constitution, geopolitics, world history, thinkers, philosophers, arts and the sciences, etc., you name it, he is a walking encyclopedia. Every meeting, conference and interview of his is akin to a university course on the different topics he commands. And what is even more confusing for the media is that he attracts crowds from different sectors – students, the highly educated, the younger and older generations, the rich and the poor, the bourgeois and the working classes, LGBT groups and diverse migrant groups.
With a high profile background of prestigious schools, HEC (Hautes Etudes Commerciales) followed by the elite Ecole Nationale d’Adminstration, ENA, he started his career in the sector of Finance, having a wide experience in General Inspection of Finance, while young Macron has a few years of experience only in Inspection of Finance and barely two years as minister. Asselineau served as political advisor and diplomat in several governments, sorted out issues in Asia, Europe, Middle-East, Eastern Europe and Africa.
Right from the outset, he warned against the making of the European Union. He still has not changed his mind, and explains why with facts and figures. He is an outspoken advocate of Frexit, out of European Union, out of euro zone and out of NATO. He lays bare the political and economic philosophy of EU, its distortion and control by ultra-liberal US indirect interference, the weakening of decision-making and gradual loss of sovereignty of member states.
How two French booming industries, Pechiney in aluminium, and Arcelor, a most competitive and high quality steel company with Spanish and Belgian partnerships as productive and prosperous as Japan’s Nippon Steel, were taken over by Canadian Alcan company and London-based Indian company Mittal respectively, are two examples that prove him right. The former European Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, humiliated the then French PM, Dominique de Villepin, in his attempt to save Arcelor. She is now heading Uber while Mario Monti, the other Commissioner who negotiated the sale of Pechiney to Alcan with financial aid from Goldman Sachs, is now counsellor at Goldman Sachs! Today, France has to import aluminium for its aeronautical industry. Another EU commissioner, Manuel Barroso, has also found a safe landing at Goldman Sachs.
Agent of American globalization
A growing perception that the hidden real face of EU at Brussels is its role as an agent of American globalization is harbouring deep resentment in France. For fear of scaring away part of its electorate, Marine Le Pen’s Front National is backpedalling on its Frexit stance and proposing a re-negotiation of EU treaties. Francois Asselineau is the only candidate who is holding a firm and clear stance on the topic, an outright exit from EU and an end to Maastricht porous borders. He explains how Frexit will bring billions of euros back to state coffers, avoid an over-generous waste on volatile East European neighbours with shifting loyalties and how a country’s interest is best defended by its elected representatives and not Brussels technocrats. Asselineau is a real headache for mainstream French media! So they dump him with the far right-wing Front National, which he is not.
Media still has an influence over voting patterns, and the focus on main parties may not garner a high percentage of votes for Asselineau. But his conferences and meetings have drawn crowds and increased his credibility and popularity.
Right-wing candidate, Francois Fillon, currently embroiled in a fake job scam benefitting family members, an act of revenge allegedly concocted by former President Sarkozy, still has a significant following among the upper bougeoisie who benefit from globalization and traditional Catholic electorate. Apparently, his most loyal supporters shrug off the corruption allegations. Political advisor and businessman Alain Minc defended him at the outset, arguing that such illegal things happen because salaries of MPs are not high enough. Which may be true in Fillon’s case: to manage a lot of responsibilities and a family of six, only five thousand euros per month (less than two hundred thousand rupees) in Paris are not enough. This is nothing compared to the disproportionate salaries of our poorly qualified politicians and greedy advisors in Mauritius, which are downright immoral and obscene.
Unsurprisingly, Fillon’s agenda of downsizing public services by job cuts and abolition of tax for the richest, the ISF, is unlikely to draw leftist undecided groups, while his avoidance of discussing the relevance of EU and NATO may be a negative point. Part of the Catholic electorate is also known for being against American ultra-liberal capitalism. Nevertheless, he garners votes from people of different backgrounds who are tired of the politically correct discourses on immigration, identity and cultural clashes.
As a pious Catholic, he was the only candidate who had the courage to publicly defend France’s Catholic identity following the horrendous assassination of the 85-year old priest in a church. After a pilgrimage to a distant church, he alluded to other religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism in a public discourse and denounced the fundamentalist totalitarian agenda spreading in Europe and the world.
His success at the primary election came as no surprise. He stands out as the only candidate who overtly asserts his Catholic identity, and demands that France’s religious identity be respected and not dictated by newcomers among immigrants, which is unbearable to extremists and potential terrorists who are more comfortable with France’s secular and atheist credentials. So it is no surprise either that he is the target of terror attack.
A lot of uncertainties have arisen over Emmanuel Macron’s position on key political, economic and social issues due to his strategy to assemble left, right and centre under the same umbrella with undefined policies. In some quarters, his third-way approach is warily viewed as a dangerous road to disaster. On television, he is too impulsive and has a way of agreeing and disagreeing with everybody, which baffles quite a number of people. Lack of experience and confusing stances may be his weakness despite the media made-up stardom he has risen to.
Which socialist candidate best deserves to make it to the first round of election is another headache to leftist supporters and media. Benoit Hamon’s universal income may appeal to a big chunk of disgruntled unemployed people while his politically correct discourse on immigration may sound unconvincing. Running a better chance is veteran candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon for his oratory kills, being straightforward and uncompromising on key topics. His far-left credential also raises fear of seeing France becoming Venezuela.
The Front National? Will those who have joined its ranks back away on election day? Quite unlikely, it seems. It has garnered followers from diverse sections of the population who have never thought of voting for the far right-wing party one day. Like Asselineau, Marine Le Pen manages to convince the electorate on the urgency of extricating France from the grip of ultra-liberal financial lobbies that dictate policies in Brussels and weaken governments in member states. Unlike Asselineau and leftist candidates, she has a clear-cut stance on immigration, harsher than Fillon’s.
Strong government and national sovereignty
The idea of strong government and national sovereignty has gained ground, especially among the younger generation in a worrying context of economic instability, national safety and international warmongering atmosphere. The young are the ones who are less inhibited in showing their leaning for Front National and explaining the reasons. Many of them support Frexit, an end to porous borders, and reject Anglo-American ultra-liberal economic ideology. They show more empathy than their elders for war-ridden Middle-Eastern countries and strongly oppose French intervention in Libya.
There is a general resentment that the political class has sold its soul to US-dictated economic and foreign policy. Most probably, they are far more vocal in condemning western media lies on Syria and the Middle-East. The award of the Legion d’Honneur by the French President to Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia has outraged loads of people. The young overtly talk about different cultural values from increasingly conservative migrant stocks. They do not trust mainstream media and are quite skilled in finding different sources of information.
There is more open-mindedness in exploring other world views elaborated by Hugo Chavez, or Colonel Gaddafi’s Green Book which lays out an ambitious vision for Africa’s future development and to save it from the clutches of IMF and similar bodies. There lies the reason why England and France, at the behest of the US, sent warplanes to destroy Libya and deliver Gaddafi to his murderers. The Green Book is banned in Europe and the US. And news about Gaddafi’s followers and what remains of his family rising and gathering to save his legacy and take control also makes its way on social media platforms. Blind French chauvinism can certainly not be attributed to the younger generation.
Whether Front National will deliver or not in a near future is not what matters most to supporters. What they believe is that France needs a real shake-up, and only the Front National can create that effect.
If anything, a most uncertain election ahead!