In Spite of Macron Victory, Nationalism Is Here to Stay
French citizens selected Emmanuel Macron as their nation's newest president. He handily defeated Marine Le Pen.
On Sunday night, French citizens selected En Marche leader Emmanuel Macron as their nation’s newest president. Macron defeated supposed “far-right” candidate Marine Le Pen 65% to 35%. While this may appear to be a united vote of confidence for Macron and his pro-EU, centrist policies, it should be noted that about 11.5% of ballots were damaged or left blank while 25% of the registered voters abstained from voting altogether. Macron’s new challenge is to bring a country of disparate opinions together, in spite of differences. This challenge seems simple enough, yet he has to contend with the deep issues which Marine Le Pen addressed in her “French First” campaign — namely immigration, terrorism and globalism.
Le Pen’s campaign ran on the discontent of French citizens who feel forgotten and left behind in the wake of refugee and immigration policies. During a recent interview with French citizens, Angelique Chrisafis, a reporter for the Guardian, discovered a growing number of French nationals who echo this sentiment. One French local stated: “Foreigners — they arrive and are given a flat, new clothes, food and free petrol. We give them everything and the French have nothing.” They watch refugees and immigrants being given free housing, food and petrol while many rural French citizens are struggling with unemployment and poverty. “The third world isn’t the suburbs at all” a woman stated in the interview, “it’s in the countryside. Nobody cares. Nobody talks about it. Ever.” Marine Le Pen calls these people “Forgotten France.” That should ring familiar to a few supporters of Donald Trump.
The globalist EU policies have made it difficult for the French nation to make decisions in the best interest of their country. Centralized governing powers, like the European Union, require countries to relinquish sovereignty and control of their own countries in exchange for rule by another, larger governing body. The interests of one country are then shared with all of the countries in the group. This really means that the interests of an individual country are diluted by the interests of many other countries. In other words, all countries who submit to the European Union lose much of their voice while their “representatives” make decisions for them in another capital hundreds of miles away.
The globalist organizations of Europe are not unlike the monarchies of the past in which a disconnected central figure made unilateral decisions for a people. In history, this dynamic has often led to a people throwing off the disinterested centralized government in favor of self-rule. Some notable historic examples, of course, include the French Revolution (1789-1799), the American Revolution (1776-1783) and, in last century, the Tunisian victory for independence from the French (1952-56), and India’s victory for independence from British rule (1947). Of those, the American Revolution is unique for its achievement of real and lasting Liberty.
We applaud the efforts of such countries to independently rule themselves. Yet most people today cannot recognize that the same impulse which drove India to free herself from England or Tunisia to throw off French rule is the same which drove Britain to vote for Brexit and Le Pen and her supporters to seek a Frexit. National Review’s Andrew Stuttaford notes, “The French may not love the EU, but that’s not the same as saying that they want to leave it. They don’t.”
The struggle for independence served as the drive behind Le Pen’s campaign. This struggle for independence has often been called “nationalism.” In its best form, nationalism encompasses a love for one’s own country, which propels citizens with a desire to build their own country’s economy, the ability to make local decisions based on local needs and the ability to secure their country from their enemies.
The globalist institutions that rob sovereignty from nations in exchange for centralized, monolithic decisions, simply do not comport with the intrinsic human instinct for self-rule. These institutions, in fact, compromise that democratic impulse.
While Emmanuel Macron has won the presidency in France, the cause for nationalism and independence from the EU will continue to be an issue for the people of France. The policies which exclude local voices for local needs will continue to exist, and so will the opposition.