Ed West

Why do so many French youngsters support Marine Le Pen?

Why do so many French youngsters support Marine Le Pen?
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I'm very sceptical of the idea that the younger generation are more conservative than their elders, and that this makes conservatism somehow cool, which it isn't. There have been times where the kids are more reactionary than their parents but generally only as a result of religious movements - and Britain is as atheistic as can be. Young Brits are very liberal and cosmopolitan, even compared to their peers in other European countries. In polls they express low levels of pride in their country and an unwillingness to fight in any theoretical war.

The Brexit vote, and the big gap between old and young, showed just how liberal the young are. In fact if the surviving voters from June 23 were counted again the result would surely be closer, as a not insignificant proportion of those who voted Leave must already be in heaven - which I imagine looks like 1950s Britain anyway. This progressivism is far more pronounced among students, which suggests that either intelligence and liberalism correlate or that universities have become very effective means of disseminating social values. It may also be that the free market ideology that is dominant in Britain also promotes a more globalist mindset, which mixed with progressivism is sometimes called 'neoliberalism'. But things are very different just 22 miles away, where young French voters are enthusiastic about the Front National, something that would be inconceivable over here:


Why are the French like that? There are a number of theories. One must be the high rate of youth unemployment, which pushes people towards more extreme politics. Another is that perhaps the French don't go in for Anglo-Saxon political politeness, including Anglo-American taboos about race: the upside of this is that openly racist talk is more frowned upon in Britain and the States; the downside is hypocrisy.

But another must be that France is just much further down the road towards Le Grand Remplacement than Britain. Although figures are hard to come by, France probably has something like twice as many Muslims as Britain, around 8 or 9 per cent compared to 4.5 per cent; its outcomes for migrants (and their children) are also far worse than Britain's.

My belief about diversity and tolerance is that it is shaped like a Laffer Curve, so that as a homogenous society sees more newcomers it becomes progressively more tolerant until a point is reached at which this process goes into reverse, partly because there are just too many political and social incentives for division. Britain probably went past that optimum around the millennium, and France is therefore even further ahead. As this study shows, people like a little diversity but really dislike a lot of it, and with good reason. I'd strongly bet against Le Pen becoming president this year - and I correctly prophesised Remain and Clinton - but if current trends continue then she must stand a good chance in 2022. Unless capitalism stops her.

Written byEd West

Ed West is the author of The Diversity Illusion, 1215 and All That and is writing a series of books on medieval history

Topics in this articlePoliticsbrexitfrancemarine le pen