France stands at the precipice of a political transformation as the far-right Rassemblement National (RN), under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, is being increasingly accepted as a normalized political force. Shifting perceptions among the French citizens indicate that for the first time, the RN, notorious for its xenophobic and authoritarian project, isn't viewed as a threat to democracy. Furthermore, it is now seen as a potential participant in governance, rather than a perpetual opposition.
Factors Driving the Shift
The change in perceptions is a culmination of various factors. The RN's strategic exploitation of fears related to globalization, social decline, insecurity, and immigration have significantly contributed to this shift. The party's ability to tap into these societal apprehensions and convert them into political capital has been central to its rise.
Marine Le Pen's Vulnerabilities
Despite the growing acceptance, Marine Le Pen's vulnerabilities, such as her inconsistent positions and inherent contradictions within her platform, persist. Notably, her stance on the European Union's currency, where she moved from opposition to acceptance of the euro, has raised eyebrows. Moreover, the RN's contradictory demands for increased public spending amid concerns about public debt have been a subject of scrutiny.
'National Preference' and Republican Values
The RN's promotion of 'national preference', which essentially scapegoats immigrants for societal problems, conflicts with traditional Republican values. This raises concerns about potential clashes with the Constitutional Council under a Le Pen presidency. However, despite these glaring issues, there seems to be a striking lack of political will to scrutinize and challenge the RN's program.
Many critics argue that other political and social forces have turned apathic, leaving them seemingly powerless, unaware, or complicit in the face of the RN's rise. This indifference, they warn, could lead to the perception that Marine Le Pen's ascent to power is unavoidable. The need of the hour, it is suggested, is a concerted effort to prevent Le Pen from capitalizing on her opponents' weaknesses.