A political intrigue that started in France two weeks ago finally concluded on Sunday. Incumbent President of France Jacque Chirac won the presidential elections once again. He received 82,06% of the vote this time, while 17,94% of the electorate voted for Jean-Marie Le Pen, a candidate from the far-right National front. The provisional results are calculated without taking account of voters in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guiana and Polynesia, though no cardinal changes are hardly to come when the votes are finally calculated. Certainly, we may discuss at length that the French put a barrier on the way of the nationalists striving for power, and we may say that democracy has triumphantly won. Indeed, this might be the case. However, still, the recent elections in France demonstrated that the ideas of the far-right very popular among the population, and not only among the French, but all over the Europe. Le Pen’s success (and his participation in the second round of elections is a surely a triumph indeed) reveals that majority of the French population is dissatisfied with the existing political system. Traditional political parties such as the socialists and Charle de Gaulle’s party have lost a great part of the population’s trust. Very often, even political scientists say that programs of the two parties practically do not differ from each other. Ordinary voters hardly discern them from each other as well.
On the whole, Le Pen’s success in the first round of elections suited Jacque Chirac perfectly well. It is quite different to be a match in the second round for Lionel Jospin, who has been at head of the French government for several past years. He could be hardly considered a threat to democracy, unlike the xenophobic Le Pen. The ideologists of Chirac’s pre-election campaign did not have to take much effort to assure the voters that the incumbent president was a better candidate than the far-right leader. Le Pen did it himself by his appearance at election meetings. It is a surprise how it became possible that every fifth voter supported the National front leader under the conditions of obstruction he faced.
As for the participation of voters in the second round, it was much higher than in the first one; practically 80% of the French population came to the election centers (70% in the first round). As we saw, for 20% of the population, it made no difference at all who would be the president – Chirac, Le Pen, or someone else.
In any case, France has made its choice. Jacque Chirac appeared before his supporters as soon as the provisional results of the voting became evident and said that he had taken the hints of the voters. Jacque Chirac promised that next five years of his rule would be more effective than the previous seven. France has a chance once again to find out if the newly elected president will be able to keep his promises. At the same time, the political battles are not yet over in France. Elections to the People’s Assembly are scheduled for June 9 and 16. Leading political parties have already focused on coming parliamentary elections. According to opinion polls, the right centrist parties are taking a certain priority to the leftists. At the same time, the socialists are not sitting on their hands and hope to find success. Therefore, it may be very probable that France will get a Gaullist as president and a socialist as prime minister. By the way, it will be the same situation as during the past several years.
It is very likely that Le Pen’s National Front will be successful during the parliamentary elections as well. Its chances are not really very hight, but still.... The far rightists are unlikely to win a majority in the parliament to form the government. However, this possibility should not be ruled out. France is now in for lots of talk about the “threat to democracy” from one side and revelations of “the corrupt political system” from the other.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Photo from NTVRU.com archives
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/05/06/40671.html