"I think that the elites have lived too long among themselves. We are in a world where globalization, which is an ideology, has forgotten, and put aside the people, the people's interests, aspirations, and dreams," National Front party leader and French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen told CNBC following Trump’s election victory.
"They have acted like carnivores, who used the world to enrich only themselves, and whether it's the election of Donald Trump, or Brexit, the elites have realized that the people have stopped listening to them, that the people want to determine their futures and in a perfectly democratic framework, regain control of their destiny. And that panics them, because they are losing the power that they had given themselves," Le Pen went on to say.
This would not be the first time someone has compared Donald Trump’s candidacy to the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum. In fact, so many references were made it’s almost become a cliché. The parallels were only reinforced further when Trump proved the polls wrong in a stunning upset victory – much like how the majority of polls incorrectly showed U.K. voters preferring to stay within the European Union. Immigration and trade were major propellers of these two outcomes.
Never before in recent history have two completely different elections in separate countries (on separate continents) been so intertwined. UKIP leader Nigel Farage actually flew across the Atlantic Ocean to campaign and support Donald Trump’s candidacy.
It seems this wave of populism and anti-establishment sentiment is not over. In fact, it’s not even confined to just the English-speaking world.
Marine Le Pen is the leader of France’s National Front party. The major tenets of their ideology include nationalism, protectionism, and right-wing populism – with strong stances against immigration.
A once obscure political party that had no real weight in French politics, the National Front is now a major player. Marine Le Pen has just recently surpassed former president Nicolas Sarkozy in preliminary presidential polling. The poll wasn’t really even close. Sarkozy trailed Le Pen by eight points.
Envious of the U.K.’s Brexit referendum, Le Pen wants France to leave the European Union. In campaign stops across her country she has championed for more immigration restrictions and has been vocal against radical Islam – very akin to the way Donald Trump carried his campaign. Much like the president-elect’s foes, Le Pen’s critics have relentlessly labeled her a racist and a fascist.
The populist wave that is sweeping the Western World may very well pull off an international hat trick.
The first round of France’s presidential elections will be held on April 23, 2017. The French electoral system is quite different than the United States. They hold several rounds of voting until a winner has arisen. Le Pen may face Alain Juppé or Nicolas Sarkozy, depending on how things pan out.
If elected, it would be an unprecedented performance by her burgeoning party. It would also be a sign that voter backlash against the “elites” has exploded onto the international arena.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who flooded her country with one million refugees in 2015 and has seen her party plummet in local elections, announced earlier she will be running for re-election. Is she sweating the political events happening among her country's major allies?