This week, United Press International was one of the few non-French media outlets to report the results of a striking opinion poll commissioned by the newspaper Le Monde, and conducted by the prestigious TNS-Sofres group. Published Wednesday, it found that only 39 percent of the French now believe that the views of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the anti-immigrant and extreme right leader of the Front National party, are “unacceptable.”
That means that a clear majority, 61 percent, now see Le Pen as a legitimate candidate, and that his policies of compulsory mass expulsion of immigrants, including children born in France and thus French citizens, are an acceptable part of political discourse.
One respondent in three, 33 percent, said they expect Le Pen to make the final runoff list of the two candidates with the highest votes in the next President election to be held in 18 months. One in four, 24 percent, said they agreed with Le Pen—a significant advance on the 18 percent of the vote he received in the last Presidential election in 2002.
Moreover, the ideas and resentments that underpin Le Pen’s message have become widespread. Nearly three out of four, 73 percent, declared that “the traditional values of France are not adequately protected.” Nearly two out of three, 63 percent, said bluntly that there are too many immigrants in France, and 44 percent said they do not feel at home in their own country.
Le Monde also reported this week another poll, this one quasi-official, organized by France’s National Commission for the Rights of Man, which was accompanied by a confidential report that went direct to the Minister of the Interior, noting that “the word ‘racist’ has been liberated.”
It is no longer a word used with shame. The poll found that one French adult in three, 33 percent, would use the word ‘racist’ to describe him—or herself. In the same poll a year ago, only 25 percent would call themselves ‘racist.’ In rural districts, 48 percent of French people were now content to describe themselves as ‘racist.’
The poll went on to say that 56 percent said there were too many immigrants in France, and the numbers of those who thought immigration brought economic benefits had fallen by 11 percent. Even immigrants now thought that there were too many immigrants in France, the poll found.
Germany has been rocked over the last month by the reports of ‘honor killings’ of young Turkish women by their own families, for dating non-Muslim men or for refusing to marry the men chosen by their fathers. In Belgium, the successor to the Vlaams Blok party, which was banned by the High Court two years ago for extremism, has 18 percent of the vote, is the second largest party in the Flemish parliament and the largest party on Antwerp city council—a city where ‘Mohammed’ is now the most common name in new registrations of births.