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The Populist Plague in France

Maddy Avni, Staff Writer

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A past full of backwards views. An anti-immigration policy so harsh some would call it unconstitutional. An anti-Islamic sentiment that borders on racism. Slimy “I’m not like other politicians” rhetoric. Whining about the evils of “political correctness.” Drawing criticism for ties with Russia. Any of these apply to our current U.S. president, but they also describe someone who is exponentially more frightening. She is insidious, dangerous, and worst of all, intelligent. I’m talking, of course, about Marine Le Pen.

Le Pen is the leader of the National Front (FN) party in France, a far-right institution with a history of racism and antisemitism. Under her father, its creator, the FN was often labeled a fringe party and garnered little support. However, with Marine in charge, it has been successful enough to take second in the French elections as of now (they have not yet concluded). Judging by the outpouring of blind populism in America with the election of Donald Trump and Britain with the Brexit vote, she has a solid chance of taking that final step into office.

The main sentiment of the FN is anti-immigration. Le Pen has argued that French citizenship should be either “inherited or merited,” which on its own is not problematic, but meriting citizenship isn’t truly enough in her eyes. She believes that public benefits, including education, jobs, and housing, should go to native Frenchmen before immigrants. No other party, in France or otherwise, holds this view, and it is frankly unconstitutional (under the constitutions of bothAmerica or France). This “nativism” policy does not hold up in court at all, and yet it is one of the main tenets of the FN’s manifesto. Marine also believes that immigration leads to increased rates of Islamic terrorism, a sentiment that wouldn’t sound out of place on Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed.

Apart from the intense anti-globalism, Le Pen also advocates for increased police and prison spending. Her party, unlike any other, is for the reinstatement of the death penalty, which had been abolished in France. She wants to get rid of a program that provides free education to the children of illegal immigrants because she believes it qualifies as “spoon-feeding” them. A National Front mayor has attempted to give a family allowance to French and EU families, but not other foreign immigrants (this was obviously thrown out of court). None of these things will work towards the advancement of France in any detectable way, and all of them smack of a certain orange bureaucrat. If Marine Le Pen gets elected, France will absolutely have made the same mistake that America has.

France, don’t feel bad. Every country has its racists, Islamophobes, and closed-minded people. Hell, we elected ours! You’ve seen our hundred days with a bigot in charge unfold in real time. We are on the verge of wars that we are unprepared to fight, both foreign and domestic. Women lose more rights every day as state bills pass right under our noses. Climate change is being ignored and scientific institutions defunded. All of this is happening because we hired our very own Marine Le Pen. Do you seriously want the same?

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The Populist Plague in France