Who could forecast this? Could a serious analyst or a political science professor suppose that in the second round of the presidential election not Jacque Chirac or Lionel Jospain will participate, but today’s president and leader of ultra-rightist National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen? The results of the first round of the election, which took part April 21, almost shocked Frenchmen. The first place was occupied by Jacque Chirac with 19.67 percent of votes, while the second – by Le Pen with 17.02 percent. On the third place, there is one of the main pretenders to the presidential post – Prime-Minister from Socialists, Lionel Jospain with 16.07 percent of votes. Trotskist leader Arlette Laguiller0 occupied the fifth place with 5.78 percent of votes. The Greens with Noel Mamer at the head got 5.27 percent, while communist Robert Yu wan the second place with 3.41-percent support of the electorate. It should be noticed that almost 30 percent of French population did not take part in the voting, which characterizes their view on the candidates and on their pre-election promises. Many of them consider President Chirac and Prime-Minister Jospin to be politicians who are not capable to manage the problems of in the country: unemployment’s growth, economical slump etc. This, however, could be not the main reason. Many Frenchmen are tired of corruption scandals, in which the French President was implicated as a rule. While Lionel Jospin is considered to be a simply boring person. Of course, Le Pen looked advantageously with his provocative statements in comparison with boring Jospin. The success of the ultra-rightist was furthered either by their simple slogans accusing foreigners of all France’ troubles, first of all that ones of Arab extraction. It is no secret that many Frenchmen are dissatisfied with afflux of immigrants, though they simply cannot decide on expressing their dissatisfaction openly. But then they readily vote for the ultra-rightist. One more result of the Sunday election was that left-wing parties and candidates suffered a defeat. In general, about 43 percent of the electorate voted for them, who came to the voting districts, while right-wing parties were supported by about 56 percent of voters. Just after the results became known, Lionel Jospin made a statement where he made himself responsible for the defeat and said that he quitted the political stage. While his more successful competitor Jacque Chirac pronounced an address to the nation and called it to bar from the ultra-rightist coming to the power, in other words – to vote for him in the second round of the election. Though French citizens have no alternative, of course if they do not want Le Pen to be the president. The French election became one more link in the triumphal train of nationalists through West Europe. At first, Austria with its fuerer Heider, afterwards Italy, where in Silvio Berlusconi’s government Umberto Bossi participates, the leader of ultra-rightist Northern League. And now, it is time for Le Pen. Of course, he hardly will be the president. However, on the other hand, nobody has guessed that in the next round of the election, a candidate from the ultra-rightist will participate. Though the National Front has a good chance to win majority in the nearest parliamentarian election. One more circumstance should be taken into account, that one of the main slogans of French nationalists is aversion of European integration. Le Pen is known through his critics of the European Community. And as the election showed, this critics are popular among the electorate. Therefore, French citizens have made their choice. And it would be stupid to criticize them for their choice. All the more that majority of the electorate voted for nationalists. So, the decision depends on them. If French citizens want to support Chirac, he will be reelected, if not – they will get Le Pen, who of course cannot solve any problems of the country, while he easily could create new ones. France’s neighbours hardly will be satisfied with such a choice. And it is not for sure that they will be glad to have to do with him in the world stage, expect for Heider and Bossi. Unfortunately, Frenchmen do not have such a good alternative.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
BBC photograph: Jean-Marie Le Pen
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/04/22/40058.html