And Now For Something Completely Different
Brandon Bodel is a centre-right leaning columnist for Woroni. His pieces aim to reflect an alternative take on current domestic and international politics and affairs.
After the election of U.S President Donald Trump, movements such as Brexit, and the rising international stardom of figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos, it is safe to say 2016 was a bad year for the contemporary liberal.
Hopefully, it will get worse.
We are only fifty or so days into 2017 and another movement is taking France by storm. Marine Le Pen is on the verge of becoming a ‘Donald Trump’ for the European nations. She would be both a French Trump and a better Trump. With nearly 20 years of political experience, Le Pen is the leader of the National Front, a party steering her to the French presidency.
As a populist, Marine Le Pen shares many of the policy positions that the current president of the United States champions. Slashing immigration, fighting terrorism and implementing a protectionist economic agenda are just three platforms of Le Pen’s campaign for the French presidency.
Are these particularly great policies in the way that they’re intended to be implemented? Not particularly. But they the lesser of evils and excellent in principle – this is where politicians and their parties today fail.
Every successful candidate from parties like National Front, One Nation and UKIP demonstrate where the government of the day is falling short. The success of these parties in the issues they focus on should be a word of warning to those so caught up in the political machine that they neglect their electorate.
These parties fill the void left empty by the government.
One Nation has been the biggest warning we have experienced in Australia. The electoral success of One Nation can be confidently explained by the uncertainty many Australians have with foreign investment, immigration and job security. All of which Pauline Hanson focuses on extensively in her rhetoric. Regardless of whether the sentiments felt by those who voted One Nation is unfounded, it is the government’s responsibility to earn their confidence.
I believe this to be a blessing in disguise.
The success of populist parties should be taken as a serious wake-up call for the government of the day. It demonstrates a failure to address the issues faced by the average voter. Addressing these is an important – defining – opportunity for a government to reaffirm its connection with the electorate. It is common sense that an individual more in touch with the people will eventually change the system in such a way that their government is either forced to start listening or fail.
Enter Marine Le Pen.
In the United Kingdom, UKIP was the answer to economic, migration and social security uncertainties felt by over seventeen million people. This year, if Marine Le Pen takes the French presidency, France will host a similar referendum to the UK’s Brexit vote with the aim of dumping the European Dollar and leaving the European Union. Good riddance.
Just like America, the political system in France is in need of renewal. The government – held for the past five years by France’s Socialist Party – has forgotten about the need to stay in touch with the electorate and run the country in a responsible way. The result has been creation of the highest taxes in Europe, unsecured borders, unemployment and slow economic growth. The French government has failed its country and hurt those who once supported it.
Le Pen has made an effort to address these issues. Many have since made the comment that she intends to ‘make France great again.’
If elected president, Le Pen has vowed to restrict the number of foreign workers in the country through a priority hiring scheme for French nationals. She also intends to introduce liberal tax cuts for small and medium-sized businesses based in France. This has been an issue in the country in recent times as the high tax rates and regulation have acted as a disincentive for many businesses to grow. Current tax rates for larger businesses are among the highest in the world.
In principal, I personally do not agree with economic protectionism. The French, however, are economic protectionists by nature. Marine Le Pen is no exception and intends to invest heavily in the public sector. These policies aren’t perfect, but what is great is Le Pen’s choice to balance some economic protectionism with liberal tax rates for businesses, thus encouraging investment in the country. Realistically this will be tough to implement if she is elected President, and it is something President Trump will also face.
Another hot topic in France, and Europe as a whole, is the threat of terrorism. With 19 successful attacks and hundreds of terror-related arrests since 2015, France has every reason to vote for Marine Le Pen and a 90,000-people cutback to immigration. When you have no control over your borders, what you want are the cuts and regulations that will bring security.
If all goes to Le Pen’s plan, France would be in America’s shoes by the end of 2017. Pressing the reset button after years of neglect will be a good thing considering the state that the economy, immigration and living standards are in.
I am certain France needs to change. I am certain a Marine Le Pen presidency would deliver that change. Though most important is what will be guaranteed with such a presidency: the old, neglectful, socialist government will be gone and France will once more be great again.