Translation: Alain De Benoist on the French Election

French New Right thinker and “intellectual godfather of the Alt-Right,” Alain de Benoist recently gave an interview to the Breton nationalist website He was asked about his reactions to the first round of the French Presidential election, which saw the field narrowed down to civic nationalist Marine Le Pen and the “candidate of the broken system” Emmanuel Macron. The translation was done using online translation with common sense correction.
What do you learn from the first round of the presidential election? How does it differ from all those that preceded it?

Alain de Benoist: The key fact of this election, which gives it a true historical character, is neither the Macron phenomenon nor the presence of Marine Le Pen in the second round. It is the total rout of the two former great parties of government, the Socialist Party and the Republicans. I had predicted it here even last February, at a time when nobody seemed to be aware of it: for the first time since the head of state was elected by universal suffrage, neither of the parties that have alternately governed France for half a century will be present in the second round.

In the past, these two parties had never represented less than 45% of the votes (57% in 2007, 55.8% in 2012). Today, they together represent only a quarter (Fillon 19%, Hamon 6%), less than Sarkozy in 2007 or Hollande in 2012. Both find themselves in ruins and on brink of collapse. Their decomposition marks the end of the Fifth Republic as we have known it. They are the big losers of the election.

This unprecedented thunderclap should not be surprising, for it is perfectly in keeping with the populist pattern. In all countries where populism scores, it is the parties representing the old ruling class that suffer the most. We have seen this in Greece, Spain, Austria and elsewhere. Now it’s time for France. And this is probably only the beginning, since we will no doubt now be headed towards a period of instability, institutional crisis and great confusion. Is this the end of the traditional right-left system that we have known for decades?

Alain de Benoist: The former government parties were also those that supported the traditional right-left divide. The cursor then moved on a horizontal axis, but voters have become disenchanted with this and no longer see very well what distinguishes the right from the left. Macron and Marine Le Pen have both surfed on this sense of lassitude with the “System.” I repeat here what I have already written several times: the old horizontal axis, corresponding to the right-left cleavage, is now replaced by a vertical axis, opposing those from above to those at the bottom. The people against the elites, the people against the powerful.

One can, of course, endeavor to preserve at all costs the right-left pattern, but then it must be noted that the popular layers are increasingly right-wing, while the bourgeoisie is increasingly left-wing, which is in itself a revolution. The results seem to confirm not only the divide between metropolises and “peripheral France”, but also between the part of France which has the fewest immigrants, which votes for Macron, and the part of France which has the most, which votes for Le Pen. What do you think ?

Alain de Benoist: Indeed, I think that the Macron-Le Pen split covers to a very large extent the opposition between “peripheral France,” that of the humiliated popular layers, left behind, who rightly consider themselves victims of an exclusion that is at once political, social, and cultural, and that of the urbanized metropolises, inhabited by senior managers and “bobos,” the possessing classes, and the integrated intellectual bourgeoisie, who take advantage of globalization and aspire to more and more “openness.” On the one hand, between the France that is making a good living, and on the other, the France that is suffering and worrying.

But this spatial opposition, particularly well explored by Christophe Guilluy, also has (and above all) a sense of class opposition. I share the opinion not only of Guilluy but also of Mathieu Slama, according to whom “the class struggle resurfaces politically in favor of a second-round duel between the Liberal Emmanuel Macron and the sovereignist Marine Le Pen.”

“Behind this class struggle,” adds Slama, “there is a confrontation between two visions of the world: the liberal and universalist vision, which does not believe in the state or in the nation, and the vision we call today Populist or sovereignist which wants to restore the state, the borders, and the sense of community in the face of the ravages of globalization”.

The symmetrical error of the classical right and left has always been to believe that politics could extricate itself from class interests – the right by its allergy to socialism and Marxism, the left by believing that the working class has disappeared and losing interest in the People. What does Macron represent?

Alain de Benoist: Morphopsychology tells us already that Emmanuel Macron is a small, manipulable creature incapable of decision. Let’s say that he is an algorithm, a synthesis image, a billionaire from telecom, a flute player programmed to lead by the nose those who see no further than the tip of their own noses. He is the candidate of the Caste, the candidate of the dominant and the powerful. He is a liberal-libertarian who conceives of France as a “start-up” and dreams only of the abolition of borders and limits, histories, and affiliations. he is the man of globalization, the man of migratory flows, the man of universal precariousness. The leader of the “progressives” as opposed to those who no longer believe in progress because they have found that it no longer improves, but on the contrary darkens their ordinary daily lives.

In the past, the business community supported the candidate they considered best suited to defend their interests (Alain Juppé at the beginning of the campaign). This time, they found it simpler to present one of themselves. Aude Lancelin is right in this respect to speak of “coup d’etat of the CAC 40”. What about the failure of Jean-Luc Mélenchon?

Alain de Benoist: Just relative failure! An outstanding speaker, a truly inspired tribune, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the one who, in form and in the background, made the best election campaign. In the space of a few weeks, he rose higher in the polls than any other candidate, scrambling in passing the Smurf of the Socialist Party, practically reaching the level of Fillon and doubling his score compared to 2012.

More importantly, this presidential election gave him the opportunity to incarnate a left-wing populism that existed before only in draft form. You may have noticed that he started to go up in the polls from the moment he no longer spoke of the “left” in his speeches, but only of the “people.” That is a revealing detail. Add to this that, unlike Hamon or Duflot, he had the courage not to call for a vote in favor of Macron. I personally regret very much that he is not in the second round. Is Marine Le Pen still likely to win? What should be the main thrusts of her campaign?

Alain de Benoist: Her chances in the second round are a priori quite weak, since all the polls predict her defeat. Her main competitors have called on their supporters to vote for Emmanuel Macron, starting with François Fillon (who is not without bitterness), but it remains to be seen if their instructions will be followed. Endorsements do not automatically carry votes. In addition to the abstentionists, Marine Le Pen can hope to garner at least a third of Fillon’s votes, more than half of those of Dupont-Aignan, and even 10 to 15% of Mélenchon’s votes, but I doubt she will win victory. The second-round score should be 60/40, or 55/45 at best.

That said, with 21.4% of the votes (against 17.9% for her father in 2012), Marine Le Pen scores seriously, not only because she reaches the second round but also because she brings together nearly eight million votes (double that of her father in 2002), compared with only six million in the last regional elections. The most important fact is that she outclasses the Socialists and the Republicans, and makes the FN the main opposition force against the future “progressive” coalition of Macron.

Let us say, however, that her campaign was rather uneven. Not enough lyricism, not enough emotion: she knows how to applaud, but she does not know how to vibrate. In her campaign clips, the people were absent.

Her only chance of winning is to make the French majority understand that the second round will not be a vote for or against the Front National, but instead a referendum for or against globalization. She will also have to be able to convince left-wing voters as a matter of priority that it would be foolish for them to give their votes to the man of the El Khomri law, the dictatorship of the shareholders, the oligarchs of the financial markets, the spokesman of Capital for whom politics is only an instrument to be put to the service of private interests. Are you surprised by the weak mobilization in the street against Marine Le Pen, contrary to what we saw in 2002?

Alain de Benoist: I am not surprised at all. The 2002 election has nothing to do with the one we have just seen. Only dinosaurs and “antifas” do not understand that we have changed epochs. A final remark?

Alain de Benoist: If a scriptwriter had written in advance the history of this election campaign as it actually happened, no director would have judged this scenario credible. It has indeed foiled all predictions. François Hollande has dreamed for years of soliciting a second term, but he finally had to give it up. He tried to maneuver, but he lost control of his own party. The right considered that this election was “in the bag,” and yet it lost. The primaries were supposed to strengthen the power of the parties and consecrate those best placed to win (Sarkozy or Juppé, Valls or Montebourg), it definitely weakened them and selected only “outsiders” who did not shine.

As for the Macron phenomenon, no one imagined it possible a year ago. This shows that in politics, nothing is ever played in advance. The story is always open.