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Economy, Islam Turn French to Far-right

Published: 06/02/2012 05:20:24 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Less than three months before the country's presidential elections, French voters, worried by their economic woes, are shunning traditional political parties and turning to the far-right.“We don't believe in politi (more)

CAIRO - Less than three months before the country's presidential elections, French voters, worried by their economic woes, are shunning traditional political parties and turning to the far-right.

“We don't believe in politicians anymore,” Robert, 56, a bus driver, told The New York Times on Monday, February 6.

“There's a rejection of the political class. People are refusing both left and right and go toward the extremes.

“The National Front doesn't need propaganda; it attracts people naturally, as a protest vote.”

Led by Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front is gaining more support among French, less than three months before the presidential elections.

Focusing on inciting fear on the role of Islam in France, home to up to six million Muslims, Le Pen adopts an anti-immigrant approach to gain public support.

In 2010, Le Pen compared Muslim prayers on the streets to Nazi occupation.

Along with its anti-immigrant approach, her party also focuses on problems facing French people, including scarce jobs and housing problems.

Opinion polls put Le Pen in the third place with 15 to 20 percent of voter intentions ahead of the April 22 first round.

Like her father Jean-Marie in 2002, Le Pen hopes to knock out one of the frontrunners to reach the two candidate run-off on May 6.

Some voters, who once voted Communist now join others who are traditionally on the right to support the far-right.

“The system is spoiled,” said Eric Rambure, 38.

Rambure, who says he will not vote in the elections, said his wife cannot find a job, and his father-in-law was laid off.

“Everyone is worried,” he said. “There's no work.”

Protest Vote

Some experts believe that the Far-right could even make a surprise vote in the presidential elections.

“My real fear is that Ms. Le Pen won't come in second in the first round, but that she will come in first,” said Nicolas Dumont, 35, the Socialist mayor of Abbeville in northern France.

But he, however, believes that the Socialist Party's candidate Francois Hollande will then win the May 6 runoff.

Experts believe that the growing support for the Far-right is a protest against the failure of traditional parties to solve social problems.

“The motivations for a vote for the National Front are very diverse,” said Nicolas Dumont, 35, the Socialist mayor of Abbeville in northern France.

“It can be a way to say ‘stop'; it can be a way to” express fury, he said, using a vulgar term.

“It's a way to make things move,” he added. “It's the cry of victims, of people who think they can find easy solutions to difficulties.”

He recognizes that voters are fed up with policies of the traditional political parties.

“There's a loss of faith in the capacity of both the right and the left to change their lives,” he said.

Part of the failure, he admits, belongs to his own Socialist Party.

“Since 1995 we have not known how to talk to these people.” But what consoles him, he said, is the unpopularity of incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy.

“There's a real will to reject Sarkozy and kick him out, like I've never seen before,” he said.

This view is echoed by voters.

“There's a lot of insecurity and sadness, a sense of no solution and that it's time for real change,” said Emanuel Ozanon, 38.“I'm not a very political person. But I understand what's happening. Hollande is full of hot air, and she has the ambition to change things.”

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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