Marine Le Pen: the Burschenschaften reminder
Even by the Daily Mail standards, the decision to publish an article fully in support of Marine Le Pen as President of France is pretty extraordinary, given the paper’s support for fascism in the 1930s.
The article itself need not detain us. It is fairly clear that the author has had little recent contact with French politics, and the idea that France will be ‘saved’ by withdrawal from the Euro, and by defence of ‘national identity’, would be no more than a sign of pitiful immaturity on the part of the author if it had turned up on a blog elsewhere. It causes concern when it has been passed through editorial hands at a mainstream paper; perhaps the ‘Brick method’ of selling papers/internet hits has gone to their heads.
What surprises me more is that relatively little attention has been paid by opponents of Marine Le Pen to what she really represents, and to how recent acts continue to reflect this.
It is less than three months ago that Le Pen was guest of honour at a Burschenshaften [literally, 'fraternity] ball in Vienna, where she chose to dance with Austrian far right Freedom Party leader Martin Graff. Graff is a member of Olympia, a secret society which excludes Jews from its ranks. His party is dedicated to the establishment of a ‘Germanic Cultural Community’ – the Nazi overtones are deliberate (for more information see L’Express, translation on request).
The ball itself is notorious (and likely to be banned) as a gathering of far-right extremists, and Le Pen (like her father, a previous guest of honour) cannot have been doing other than making a knowing gesture of allegiance to far right extremism.
Hollande and Sarkozy’s decision not to make a big issue of this, when it emerged in January, is understandable; by highlighting her actions they risked giving the publicity she craves (at the time she was also playing the 30 year old FN trick of complaining that the might be kept of the ballot paper by the 500 parrainages [Mayoral nominations] rule, which she claims was put in place by the state to block her democratic rights).
What is odd though is that, to my knowledge, no British commentator on the French elections has done anything other than help to confirm the ‘detoxification’ myth about Marine Le Pen, and how she offers a radical alternative to the mainstream fare of the Hollande-Sarkozy show.
Indeed, more often than not, she seems to be paired in the analysis with leftwing candidate Jen-Luc Mélenchon, as comparable alternatives to the main parties. This is not just lazy’two for the price of one’ journalism; it’s also an enormous insult to Mélenchon and those who will vote for him in round 1.
Given this indolence (and the astonishingly patronising Martin Kettle view that we’re all a bit too lazy to interest ourselves in French politics) perhaps it is little wonder that someone as ignorant as the Daily Mail columnist feels empowered, alongside his editors, to promote the idea of a neo-Nazi as the leader of a major European power.