French Village Embraces an Extremist

Devorah Lauter and Kim Willsher, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2012

The drive to this picturesque village nearly 200 miles southeast of Paris winds through forests and farmland where hawks stand guard on roadside fence posts and egrets glide across empty pastures. With a population of just 60, Brachay’s residents say they are “the forgotten ones.”

One person did remember them: Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party. The town thanked her with a record 72% vote in her favor during the first round of France’s presidential election last Sunday.

That day, Le Pen, 43, surprised the country by placing a strong third behind the two front-runners, President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande. Her 18% of the vote transformed the leader of the anti-immigrant nationalist party from an electoral also-ran into a key player in the runoff May 6.

With Sarkozy trailing in polls that give Hollande a lead of as much as 10 percentage points, the incumbent desperately needs to woo Le Pen’s supporters to save his political career. Consequently, the National Front’s pet themes—immigration, security and national identity among them—have shot to the top of the election agenda.

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Le Pen has little interest in keeping Sarkozy, whom she detests, in power, and hopes that if he loses his right-of-center Union for a Popular Movement party will implode. With the National Front looking to pick up seats in parliamentary elections in June, the party aims to position itself as a credible opposition. But there is no love lost between Le Pen and Hollande either.

In Brachay, where stone cottages are clustered around a steepled church, a well-groomed central square and a large National Front poster, villagers were thrilled when Le Pen visited in early April. Suddenly they were not forgotten, but part of something much bigger.

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But Le Pen did come, attracting neighboring villagers and winning over new admirers with what the mayor described as her accessible style and willingness to “get off her podium and talk to everyone.”

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Immigrants “are a problem; they are becoming more and more numerous,” Gerard Marchand said. “Foreigners have seven to eight kids. We have two. In 200 years, who’ll be in whose home?”

Most villagers in Brachay struggle to make ends meet on about $1,300 a month, on average. “It’s true, we are the forgotten ones,” the mayor said.

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European Union President Herman Van Rompuy has criticized what he calls the “winds of populism” blowing across Europe, fanned by “extremist movements.”

The Netherlands is heading toward a general election in September with Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam Freedom Party, in third place and rising.

Farther south, debt-strapped Greece is witnessing the rise of the Golden Dawn ultranationalist movement. {snip}

A recent report by Amnesty International identified widespread prejudice in Europe. The human rights group said political leaders, rather than combating fear of Islamic extremism, have been pandering to prejudice against Muslims in a quest for votes.

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  • Let’s hope this happens in the US.

  • Rocky Bass

    Perhaps I should make use of my passport, while I still have one.
    How long until my views become reason to also snatch my passport from me?
     I would not have expected a resurgence of logic to have come from the French! 

  • JohnEngelman

    A recent report by Amnesty International identified widespread prejudice in Europe. The human rights group said political leaders, rather than combating fear of Islamic extremism, have been pandering to prejudice against Muslims in a quest for votes.    

    – Devorah Lauter and Kim Willsher, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2012      
                                                      
    Prejudice is usually the result of past experience.

  • YEESSSS

  • No

    Well, that’s three countries in Europe . . . maybe four . . . where the Far Right is actually picking up votes and becoming a player.  Sadly, though, it won’t happen here for a long time.  Hitler thought America was far too gone down the road of racial destruction . . . and that was in the 1930s.  Eighty years later and we may be the Walking Dead of white Europeans.

    One good thing we can hope for . . . if ultra right-wingers take control of several European countries, they may well recognize and aid the efforts of white racialists here.   (That’s one thing I never understood about Hitler and his short-sighted assessment of America.) 

    Sure, left to our own devices, we may be unable to stop the total destruction of white America.   But if white racialists unite world-wide, we stand a good, fighting chance.

  • JackKrak

    Good news, no doubt, but 72% of 60 residents is 43 votes. How many towns like this do you need to cancel out all the votes by liberals and immigrants in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, etc.? In the 1960 Presidential election, Richard Nixon won 93 of Illinois’ 102 counties but Chicago gave the whole state’s electoral votes to Kennedy. More recently, Obama won just two of Nevada’s 16 counties in 2008 – but they were the counties that included Las Vegas and Reno so he took the state. This is how leftists in the West get elected – stuff the big cities with immigrants and government workers & remind them who pays the bills when elections come around.

  • njguy83

    Sounds like a smart town, and a great election for Marine Le Pen and Front National.