The remarkable rise of French sovereignism

The French presidential campaign reveals French voters’ widespread urge to roll back EU powers. The top five candidates for the April 2022 elections (Emmanuel Macron excluded) have French national sovereignty, ‘taking back control’ and a concomitant reduction in EU powers as main planks of their manifestos. What the French refer to as ‘sovereignist’ policies clearly meet the expectations of French voters as opposed to the globalism and ever-more-Europe favoured by Emmanuel Macron. But it is the means of taking back control proposed by the five presidential candidates that is explosive. All opinion polls regularly show these ‘sovereignist’ candidates garnering some 65 per cent of French support. The Harris Interactive poll

French democracy is in trouble – and the EU is to blame

France’s airwaves have been crackling with indignation this week, as politicians wring their hands at the record abstention in the first round of voting in the regional elections. Sixty six per cent of French voters found something else to do last Sunday other than vote, prompting Gabriel Attal, a government spokesman, to proclaim that the ‘abysmal’ turnout ‘imperilled democracy’. ‘French democracy is sick,’ said Emmanuel Rivière of polling institute Kantar Public. It was perhaps unfortunate timing for Monsieur Attal that his remarks were made on Wednesday June 23, five years to the day since the British people voted to leave the European Union. The milestone didn’t pass unnoticed in France, particularly among

What a Le Pen win would mean for Brussels

A Marine Le Pen victory in a year’s time can no longer be ruled out. Other than opinion polls regularly pointing to her place in the second round as a certainty, a few, such as Harris Interactive on 7 March, put her on the cusp of winning the second round with 47 per cent to Macron’s 53 per cent — a dramatic improvement on her 2017 score of 34 to Macron’s 66.  The traditional republican front against the radical right is crumbling and the stigma of voting Le Pen is diminishing. More of the electorate are coming round to the Rassemblement National’s views on national sovereignty, immigration, crime and security, and — with Brussels’s

Could coronavirus lead to Frexit?

Is France flirting with the idea of Frexit again? Coronavirus is currently provoking a chorus of ‘reprendre le contrôle’ (take back control) across the political spectrum. The epidemic is laying bare France’s dependence on outside states for essentials such as masks, medicines, test kits and ventilators. Even arch-Europhile Emmanuel Macron visiting a French mask manufacturer declared this week: ‘We have to produce more in France, on our territory, from now on to reduce our dependency… we must rebuild our national and European sovereignty’. His reference to Europe is not unusual, but highlighting national sovereignty is. The second ‘take back control’ stimulant comes from growing irritation with the European Union. Images