As François Fillon clinches the election in his Republicans Party against rival Alain Juppe, there is one person who ought to be celebrating. According to the western mainstream media, this person is Vladimir Putin. This of course, is fantastical. The real person who ought to be celebrating is Marine Le Pen.
Many pundits have claimed that Fillon poses a strong threat to Le Pen. Their justification for such remarks are due to Fillon’s theft of some of Le Pen’s policies on immigration, Laïcité, and moreover, because Fillon has stated that he believes France should cooperate with, rather than antagonise Russia over her aid of the Syrian Arab Republic in the fight against Islamic terrorism.
But far from being ‘Le Pen Light’, Fillon is mired in so many contradictions, not even Jean Paul Sartre could penetrate the political illogic.
Although Fillon has adopted some (though crucially not all) traditional conservative positions on Islamic terrorism and immigration, in all other areas of domestic and EU politics, he is not only a neo-liberal but something of a fanatical neo-liberal.
He boasts of his love for Margaret Thatcher and wants to liberalise the French economy more radically than any politician in recent French history. These views are fundamentally out of touch with a French economic culture which remains perennially ill at ease with ultra-liberal privatisation schemes and public expenditure cutbacks.
What’s more, even in countries that had formerly led the path in neo-liberal, globalist economics, the electoral tide is turning towards a more traditional protectionist outlook. Brexit and especially the victory of Donald Trump are testament to this political trend which has attracted an increasing number of adherents throughout the west.
Not only is Fillon out of touch economically, he is an ardent Europhile in an age when Euroscepticism is sweeping Europe. Fillon is as far from a political revolutionary as one can get, he is a member of the old establishment who like a broken clock, is correct twice a day.
By contrast, Marine Le Pen’s policies are demonstrative of the traditional conservative movements which have swept the west from America to Hungary, Britain to Austria. Her views are consistent with a broad movement favouring protectionism over free-trade globalism, patriotism against the supra-nationalism of the European Union, traditional culture vis-à-vis post-cultural internationalism and what’s more, her views on Russia and immigration matters are far more clear and consistent than those of Fillon.
Le Pen has expressed solidarity with both the civilians of Donbass and with those of Syria. It is becoming increasingly clear that cooperation with Russia over Syria would be far more transparent and longer lasting when conducted with a partner who isn’t simultaneously supporting the fascist regime in Kiev. The recent ‘no’ vote in a Dutch referendum on a would-be (probably never will be) EU-Ukrainian Association Agreement is further testament to the fact that pro-Kiev positions are not vote winners in western Europe.
Francois Fillon is an establishment politician in an epoch where anti-establishment causes and candidates are winning elections and winning substantially. To say that Fillon isn’t as bad as Hollande, Sarkozy and Juppe in certain areas, does not make a credible candidate. In other areas, particularly the economy, many on the anti-war left and right would agree that Fillon is worse than his political rivals.
There will be a May 2017 run-off election between Fillon and Le Pen, but unlike Marine Le Pen’s father, who lost resoundingly in his 2002 run-off with Jacques Chirac, Marine is a more sound, credible, modern, thoughtful and democratic politician than her deeply distasteful father.
Her campaign team ought to ready themselves to present a ‘people’s candidate’ versus a fanatically neo-liberal establishment stalwart. She ought to explain that her views on Syria, Russia and immigration are more thorough and sincere than those of Fillon. As for the economy and Europe, her views increasingly conform to the broad post-Brexit/post-Trump western zeitgeist.
The choice is clear. It’s between tomorrow’s woman and yesterday’s man. What’s more, I believe she will be the next president of The Fifth Republic.