Monday, December 05, 2016

FRANCE - Their 'Alt-Right'

"France's far-right National Front party is on the rise" PBS NewsHour 11/28/2016


SUMMARY:  In France, right-wing populist party National Front continues to garner support, despite critics who say it punishes detractors and silences the press.  The party tailors its ideology to fit different populations; in the French Rust Belt, it has gained favor with the traditionally socialist working class by promising to push back against global elites.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  France's center-right party has chosen social conservative Francois Fillon as its presidential candidate in next spring's elections.

Then, he could face Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front.  The deeply unpopular current president, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party, has not yet said whether he'll seek reelection.

Le Pen's National Front hopes to benefit from the so-called Trump effect, as special correspondent Malcolm Brabant discovered when he discovered one of its strongholds in northern France.

MALCOLM BRABANT, special correspondent:  Despite being labeled a medieval conservative, Francois Fillon won the Republican nomination in France's first ever U.S.-style primary by more than 2-1.

FRANCOIS FILLON, Republican Presidential Candidate (through translator):  Victory is mine.  It's a substantial victory built on convictions.  France wants the truth, and it wants action.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  According to analyst Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Fillon is a fiscal conservative with a record of consistency.

ALEXANDRA DE HOOP SCHEFFER, German Marshall Fund of the United States:  He has strong positions in terms of reducing French public spending.  He wants to suppress around 500,000 public sector jobs.  He has always stuck to the same positions on many issues.  He's pro-Russian.  He says it very clearly.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  Most French commentators expect the Socialist presidential candidate to be eliminated early in next year's election.

At this bastion of the National Front, Henin-Beaumont, they now know who their main opponent is.  Steeve Briois is the town's mayor and the second most important person in the party.

MAYOR STEEVE BRIOIS, Henin-Beaumont (through translator):  There's a global phenomenon today, an awakening.  The people are rebelling against the elite.  So it's a good thing that Mr. Trump was elected.  It's a good thing that Brexit happened in Britain.  It bodes well for us for France.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  This is France's Rust Belt, northeast of Paris.  Slag heaps and heavy machinery preserved in industrial museums are all that remain of coal mines shut down two decades ago.  There's high unemployment.  The working class here have followed a familiar political route of abandoning socialists like President Francois Hollande for right-wing populists.

MARINE TONDELIER, Green Party:  The Front National is like a vulture party.  That's to say that it shows something that is decreasing, poor, complicated, and it tries to seize it, and it's exactly what they did here.

EUGENE BINAISSE, Former Mayor, Henin-Beaumont (through translator):  A wall of silence has descended on the town.  We think we're being observed by the National Front, and anything you say can come back and bite you.

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