This article was first published on VICE France.
Marine Le Pen at a National Front meeting, May 1st. Photo via
Even though François Hollande's
pre-recorded speech about yesterday's results failed to address the issue, the fact remains that eurosceptic parties can be deemed the real winners of the European Election. UKIP on behalf of Britain, Greece's usual suspects – the Golden Dawn, Hungarian madmen Jobik and a bunch of other lunatics are now going to have to muster the strength not to lift their right arm in the meeting rooms of Strasbourg.
In France, Marine Le Pen's National Front won the election with 24.95 percent of the vote. Many have tried to analyse the results in terms of abstention percentages and protest voting, but one thing we should all recognise is that the 25th of May marks a new stage in our political history: it is the first time a right-wing party has topped an election in France.
To figure out if it's just us that were appalled by the news, we ventured out in the streets of Paris to ask what the public thinks. Even if none of the people we spoke to appeared to have voted for the National Front, all claimed to more or less understand the reasons behind the sad triumph of the extreme right.
VICE: Hi Gwendal, how does it feel to be living in a country, where the 25 percent voted for the extreme right?
Gwendal: I'm ashamed but I think it's a necessary evil – the political class needs to be shocked in order to renew itself and propose new ideas for a more socialist and democratic Europe. We need more empathetic policies, enough with the elitist decisions.
Do you think the answer to these results could be a coalition government in France?
No, not at all. Each political party needs to change individually. A coalition government would be the easy solution. We need a revival of ideals and ideas.
VICE: What was your experience of the European elections?
Gladys: Personally, I find that there was a lot of misinformation surroudning the elections and that is why I did not vote. I think the problem is the lack of interest on behalf of the French people.
Is it a lack of interest in the European elections in particular, or politics in general?
I am of the younger generation and I admit to not having confidence in politicians – I don't think this happens one day. Politicians are too populist and the cases of corruption are too many.
VICE: How do you feel about NF's victory?
Nicolas: To be honest, I wasn't surprised. I think that this is a natural consequence of the political class turning a blind eye to the ordinary people's needs. People have questions that are never answered. Politicians evade central issues by speaking in technical terms that confuse the public.
Do you think the FN can accomplish more positive change than the other parties at a European level?
No, I think they will crash. They will test those in power but quickly show that they are unable to solve the current problems, which are extremely complex.
Édouard, Belgian florist
VICE: As a Belgian, what do you think of the NF victory?
Édouard: I think it makes sense that the NF won. People no longer trust the government. Taxation is extremely high and small businesses are suffocating. I regret having moved to Paris. I totally understand how Ms. Le Pen won, even though I do not support her politics.
VICE: Why do think so many young people voted for NF?
Alizé: it should be interpreted as a warning sign. We're sick that politics has essentially become a game of finance.
Do you think people voted for NF because they are worried about their security?
The economic situation has necessarily had an impact on the people's vote. But we must not forget that in times of crisis, there is always a scapegoat, and that is what is happening with immigrants at the moment.
Olivier, works in finance
VICE: You voted. How do you feel about the large abstention rates?
Olivier: It is unfortunate, but the media did not talk about the elections much and the mainstream political parties have had a bad season, so it makes sense. I think the NF had the most coherent discourse. On top of that, you have the economic crisis, a government that is not appreciated, a divided right wing – there is enough to disgust a lot of people.
I come from a family that talks about politics and so, on principle, I did not want to abstain, but I have reasons to be disillusioned. I understand those who abstained.
What do you think are the reasons people voted for NF?
It is still a protest vote, but only slightly. The NF appears to have changed its rhetoric; their image is much softer than what it was 20 years ago. I think many voters actually adhere to the party's ideas.
Eoghan, American architect
VICE: As an American, how do you see the NF victory?
Eoghan: I must confess that I am very surprised. Whatever people may think, the United States see France as a very liberal country. But since I arrived in France, I've seen demonstrations against gay marriage and now the victory of NF .
What do you think of Marine Le Pen?
I find her horrible. She actually makes me like Michelle Bachmann – this ultra-conservative American who firmly believes that the theory of evolution is bullshit invented by scientists.