Guest Post: Lionel Page and Ahmed Skali English-Speaking Conservatives: Le Pen is Not One of Yours

On Sunday 7 May 2017, French voters elected, with a landslide, Emmanuel Macron as the country’s new leader, ending Marine Le Pen’s bid for the presidency. This has been a unique election in that neither candidate hails from France’s two main parties, which both failed to advance their candidates to the run-off.

Macron is a liberal, economically and socially. Educated in a French-equivalent Ivy League institution, he started his career in the civil service, before leaving for a stint as an investment banker, and was then appointed economy minister by President Hollande. His track record as economy minister includes implementing the Loi Macron (Macron Act), a series of measures aimed at injecting flexibility into the French labour market, cutting bureaucratic red tape, and promoting competition. He also defends that protection for those facing economic difficulties must be a complement to economic flexibility. Macron is backed by 40 of France’s top economists, including former Harvard economics professor Philippe Aghion, a proponent of Denmark’s “flexicurity” model, who played a key role in inspiring Macron’s economic vision.

His campaign opponent, Marine Le Pen, has long been a key figure in her party, the National Front, and has held several political posts during the last 20 years. During the weeks preceding the vote, she had been heralded by some conservatives across the UK, the US and Australia as a solution to the plights that France, like other Western nations, face. Le Pen can shake up the status quo, the logic goes, as she is not an establishment candidate. She can be the face of an outspoken conservatism. Her relative novelty to English speakers and the fact that Trump has already broken past political conventions may explain the appeal Le Pen has for some conservatives. As French-speaking economists, we are both knowledgeable of the French political debate and have first-hand, untranslated access to Le Pen-related information. We were surprised to see the support she received from English-speaking conservative-leaning political commentators. The values Le Pen stands for are light-years away from the values of Anglo-Saxon conservatives, including personal liberty, small government, private property, and entrepreneurship. Put simply: conservatives, she is not one of yours. French expatriates have said as much, loud and clear, when an overwhelming majority of them chose Macron over Le Pen in the second round run-off (for example, in Australia, Macron beat Le Pen by a margin of 89% to a meagre 11%).

First, Le Pen’s economic plan is anything but liberal economically. It is most accurately described as socialist. Her program centres on outright dismissal of free trade deals, including deals with Australia and New Zealand, “economic patriotism”, and “intelligent protectionism”. Her state-assisted “re-industrialization” would have required heavy-handed interventions of many types, such as nationalising some companies. Le Pen also advocated for the preferential treatment of French businesses for taxpayer-funded government contracts, as long as they charge prices that are “reasonably” higher than non-French businesses would. What happens to economic efficiency, or how much is “reasonable”, are anyone’s guess. Some of the campaign promises are downright outlandish, such as fighting the “financialisation” of professional sport. You would be forgiven for thinking these campaign promises are those of a mid 20th-century left-wing populist party.

Le Pen and FN also openly practice a brand of ethnic politics that should be a concern to all citizens. White European ethnicity is marketed as part and parcel of French national identity; for example, the FNJ (FN’s youth organisation) prominently displays the self-explanatory motto “100% Front National, 0% Migrants” on its webpage. Her campaign proposed to revoke birthright citizenship, discard actual facts and organize the history curriculum in schools into a “national narrative” designed to exalt patriotism, and suppress language diversity in schools and universities. The FN also has a long history of Holocaust denial by everyday members and senior figures, including denials of the existence of gas chambers in Auschwitz. Mere days before the election, Marine Le Pen denied the well-documented fact that French authorities rounded up Jews for deportation into Nazi death camps. And the party’s interim president had to resign as past Holocaust denial remarks were uncovered.

Nowadays, Le Pen’s weapon of choice in identity politics is Islam-related fear mongering. To be sure, fundamentalism is a challenge in many societies; no country is exempt. Macron proposes a strong secular state which respects freedom of religion but stands firm in the face of any attempt to impose the values of any religious group on others. Le Pen, on the other hand, proposes legislation banning the use of so-called ostentatious religious symbols in public, which explicitly applies to employees at private businesses. In Le Pen’s France, fellow citizens who wish to wear a cross, a yarmulke, a hijab, or any other religious symbols, are to be excluded from the workplace. Political interference into what citizens can and cannot wear has not historically been associated with the respect for civil liberties which characterise Anglo-Saxon society.

This authoritarian mindset runs evens deeper. Like Erdogan in Turkey and Putin in Russia, Le Pen shows worrying signs of contempt for the institutions of the French Republic. France has a bicameral legislature; as recently as 2013, Le Pen pledged to strip parliament from its law-making duties, transfer them to the people, and discussed abolishing the senate. What would we make of these claims if they had been uttered by any American, British or Australian politician?

Le Pen also championed an isolationist foreign policy, proposing to leave the European Union and return to a romanticized sovereign nation-state. This is a dangerous illusion. We live in an era with many global problems, which require global solutions. Who can believe that, in the 21st century, small European countries will be better able to defend their economic interests and their values by being divided? Small and contiguous European countries are more likely to tackle terrorism threats by reinforcing the cooperation between their intelligence services and pooling some of them to benefit from economies of scale. World inequalities in standards of living are creating a migration pressure over European countries. Who can think that putting a border around each European country will work to regulate immigration? Countries at the external borders of Europe like Greece and Italy don’t have the resources to pay for Europe’s border protection and, in practice, don’t have the incentive to do so given that most migrants aim to go to richer countries such as France and Germany. If reducing economic migration is the end objective, then reinforcing the current European borders will be much more effective than breaking up the EU into small countries each defending their borders on their own. Furthermore, wars such as the one in Syria and Libya have created an unprecedented number of people in need of refuge; a coordinated European response is necessary in this respect too.

Le Pen-style isolationism, which is alive and well in many industrialized countries, would severely weaken the EU and its capacity to deal with these and many other global issues. More fundamentally, it would leave European countries even more divided than ever, unable to stand for their social model and cultural values, in a world were undemocratic powers such as Russia and China would find easier to expand their influence.

Notes. The campaign promises we discuss are available at https://www.marine2017.fr/programme/ (see promises number 27, 34, 35, 37, 96, 97, 101, 117, 121, 127). We also refer to the campaign pamphlet entitled “Terrorisme Islamiste: Protegeons les Francais”, which is available on Le Pen’s website as well.

Lionel Page is a professor of economics at QUT. Ahmed Skali is an Early Career Development Fellow at RMIT University.

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37 Responses to Guest Post: Lionel Page and Ahmed Skali English-Speaking Conservatives: Le Pen is Not One of Yours

  1. Fisky

    Nowadays, Le Pen’s weapon of choice in identity politics is Islam-related fear mongering.

    I cannot possibly understand why anyone in France would fear Islam. Completely irrational!

  2. Anon

    I’ll admit, I was a bit split on the French election.

    The Economics, Macron, The Socal, Le Pen.

    It’s hard, to choose, in a sense. Still, the fact that there have been over 200 terror attacks in France in the last 2 years…… Frankly, Islam is something only an idiot would want in their country.

    It’s coming to Australia, too. There’s been race riots in every major Australian city, or so I hear.

  3. Zipster the leftoid torturemeister

    The only “global solution” to islam involves nuclear weapons.

  4. Dr Fred Lenin

    Macron theEU COMMUNIST STOOGE “won by a landslide “. The socialists ,republicans, europeans migrants and communusts united to vote! for him , so two thirds of three quarters voted against France and its future ,sounds like a career pollie move worthy of the law trade ,convoluted. Shifty and totally dishonest . Going to be fun watching those crooks working together.

  5. None of those economic arguments will mean a jot when (not if anymore but when) the Muzzies take over in 15 years.

  6. Deplorable

    So we are expected to listen to the arguments from 2 who are firmly entrenched in our higher education institution’s . Enough said

  7. This is one of the best parody posts that has ever featured on Catallaxy Files. Well done sir. Would you kindly provide a follow up in 5-10 years time?

  8. Driftforge

    Le Pen and FN also openly practice a brand of ethnic politics that should be a concern to all citizens. White European ethnicity is marketed as part and parcel of French national identity; for example, the FNJ (FN’s youth organisation) prominently displays the self-explanatory motto “100% Front National, 0% Migrants” on its webpage. Her campaign proposed to revoke birthright citizenship, discard actual facts and organize the history curriculum in schools into a “national narrative” designed to exalt patriotism, and suppress language diversity in schools and universities.

    France for the French. How novel.

    But really, the only issue with Le Pen is that she may not have done enough to save their country. The scale of the problem is immense, and the scale of the solution — any real solution — puts any concerns expressed in the OP into the kiddies corner.

  9. Jannie

    The EU plans on solving its economic issues by population change. The social issues created by the new population will spoil all his economic liberal plans.

  10. Tim Neilson

    Le Pen pledged to strip parliament from its law-making duties, transfer them to the people, and discussed abolishing the senate. What would we make of these claims if they had been uttered by any American, British or Australian politician?
    We’d be cheering.

  11. True Aussie

    Nice tayyiqa Ahmad but its not “Islam-related fear mongering” when they have spent the last thousand years trying to conquer europe. Muslims really do hate us and want to see the whole world dar al islam

  12. Exit Stage Right

    Irrespective of what Marine Le Pen policies may be on the economic or social front, the fact that she is anti – mussie should have been enough for the deplorable frogs to vote for her. I would have!

  13. Michel Lasouris

    Heard a good yarn on the Socialist propaganda organ; The BBC/ABC . A Canadian Jewish lady recounted how in 1939, her parents tried to migrate to Canada, fleeing Europe on a passenger ship. The Canadians refused entry and the ship returned to Europe; many of the passengers met their fate at the hands of the Nazis. However she eventually made it to Canada to her eternal gratitude. Now she is helping Muslim immigrants to settle in Canada, saying that they are subject to persecution in Canada as the Jews were….simply for being different.
    YOU’RE SO WRONG LADY No Jew nor their descendants escaping to Canada for a new life has ever created havoc and murder against the Canadian population. These Muslims however, whilst they might seem innocuous elderly arabs, will bring their grandsons to Canada. Aged from 15 to 30, they will commit Jihad to establish their ‘caliphate’; kill and maim Canadians by murdering school children, bombing buses, trains and planes, machine-gunning night clubs and driving truck through crowds of shoppers and their families have not ( and will not) lift a finger to help the authorities.
    No Lady, they are nothing like the Jewish diaspora in Canada

  14. DM of WA

    Another click bait article.

  15. Suburban Noy

    The only “global solution” to islam involves nuclear weapons.

    This is the sort of narrow-minded thinking that we should all condemn. It overlooks the critical fact that chemical weapons, biological weapons and conventional weapons all have their part to play in achieving a global solution to Islam.

  16. Suburban Boy

    The only “global solution” to islam involves nuclear weapons.

    This is the sort of narrow-minded thinking that we should all condemn. It overlooks the critical fact that chemical weapons, biological weapons and conventional weapons all have their part to play in achieving a global solution to Islam.

  17. Paul

    So Le Pen has socialists economic policies, so to Macron. And Macron wanrs open borders, wants to let in the jihadists. But only Le Pen is labelled far right!
    So what is worse for France , socialism or jihadists?
    To my mind there is no difference, seeing as throughout the West the socialists align themselves with the Muslims, with the Muslims vote, comrades in arms.

  18. Rafe

    Hungary has demonstrated that an individual country can keep the invaders out.
    Still the fact remains that Le Pen is not the answer to the complex if problems which include economic policy as well as orotecting western civilization.

  19. Rafe

    Bearing in mind that rabid nationalism competes with socialism as the most destructive modern movement in the west. See the aftermath of the French Revolution.

  20. Tim Neilson

    Rafe, not wanting to live in a sharia-infested cesspit isn’t the same as “rabid nationalism”. If Le Pen was talking about imposing French domination outside France there’d be something to worry about, but even the MSM haven’t accused her of that as far as I know.
    I agree she’s not the answer to France’s complex problems, but it would have been sensible to address the simple (but urgent and important) one first.

  21. Ubique

    How long before France becomes an Islamic Republic?

  22. Rafe Champion

    Tim I don’t think there is a simple answer to the Islamic problem in France or anywhere else, especially since the left have hitched their waggon to the Islamic cause by inventing islamophobia.

    In addition Le Pen and her cohorts are so nutty I can’t imagine them effectively handling any problem even the obvious one.

    Beware of thinking that the enemies of our enemies are our friends!

  23. ned

    In 1914 33,000 Muslim Algerians were already serving with the spahis, tirailleurs and other units of the Army of Africa. In the course of the war a further 137,000 enlisted either as volunteers (57,000) or as wartime conscripts (80,000). Of the total of 170,000, 36,000 were killed.

    As had been the case in 1914, substantial numbers of the Army of Africa were moved to mainland France on the outbreak of World War II. In May 1940 14 regiments of zouaves, 42 regiments of Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan tirailleurs, 12 regiments and demi-brigades of the Foreign Legion and 13 battalions of African Light Infantry were serving on all fronts

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_of_Africa_(France)

    Islam is the second-most widely professed religion in France behind Catholic Christianity by number of worshippers. With an estimated total of 5 to 7 percent of the national population, France has the largest number of Muslims in Western Europe.[1][2][3]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_France

  24. MD

    Thank you for publishing this guest post. Having followed the recent French campaign (in French), it seems an accurate account of LePen’s policies, and thus her failure to win office. Some of the hostile comments posted in response read like mirror-reflections of the extreme left, and neither informative nor reasoned.

  25. classical_hero

    She was focused on the biggest issue. I knew her economic policies were terrible, but you won’t have an economy to run if Islam is in control.

  26. Sam Duncan

    Lionel Page either doesn’t understand what the EU is or opposes representative democracy.

    No, Le Pen is not “one of us”. She is a socialist. Quite possibly a national-socialist. No doubt about that. But she also opposes the integration of France into a continental empire of Administrators, and on that, if nothing else, she is correct. If she wants to destroy France’s economy with idiotic policies, that’s France’s business, not ours, or Germany’s, Italy’s, Poland’s, Malta’s, or anyone else’s.

    “Who can believe that, in the 21st century, small European countries will be better able to defend their economic interests and their values by being divided?”

    Okay, so hands up who wants Australia, much smaller country than France in terms of population, to unite, politically, with the rest of South-East Asia under a non-representative system of government in which the people have virtually no say at all over the laws that govern them? Anyone? I mean, it’s too small to continue being an actual country running its own affairs, right? And don’t worry about persauding anybody to… you know, vote for it or anything; you can pretend it’s only a “common market”, so the fools people won’t know what’s actually going on until it’s too late. We’ll bung ’em some subsidies (out of their own pockets, heheh!) to keep ’em sweet. It’ll be fine.

    Page lists Le Pen’s alleged antag0nism towards democracy. But does he know how laws are made in the EU? How little power the European “Parliament” actually has? How often it votes, and how? How little EU law is ever even seen by an elected representative at any level? Is he, for example, aware of “False B Points”, proposed laws that the Commission pretends are “contentious” in order to give the Council something to talk about and create the illusion of debate?

    Much like the US election last year, both candidates in France were terrible. But one was vastly preferable over the other, despite her many, many, flaws. Yes, her motives for regaining French sovereignty may be isolationist, but that has no bearing on the fact that sovereignty, democracy, and representative government are in grave danger (yet again) all over Europe, and one can’t always pick and choose one’s allies. Should Churchill and Rooseveldt have rejected an alliance with Stalin becuase his motive for defeating Germany was the imposition of Communism? In ordinary circumstances I wouldn’t vote for a Le Pen-like character in a million years. But these are not ordinary circumstances, and if the only other choice is an EU careerist stooge, I’d take the mad woman any day of the week.

    Oh, and you’ll notice I haven’t even mentioned immigration or the “M” word.

  27. struth

    These smug wankers in our universities are our problem.
    Unfortunately these globalist open borders (only for the west) trash would be the tame ones.
    No Country equals no democracy.
    I know most conservatives already knew she wasn’t a conservative.
    So you are not letting us know anything we already didn’t know.
    This post just confirms something else that we already knew aswell.
    Our education system is full of insulated, indoctrinated left wing morons who must know that a sovereign nation is required for democracy to function yet salivate for it’s demise.
    There is so much stupidity while written with a pompous arrogance in this post that I got quite angry.
    These people have the gall to post here at the cat after obviously living in a left wing echo chamber and reguritating the same old open borders rhetoric!
    Australia has a very big problem and it’s cause has just posted its banal insulated arrogance here at the cat.

  28. Walter

    Why on Earth are we still talking about Le Pen and Hillary? It’s over guys let’s go forward and stop re-fighting old battles, it’s only in Lefty World that rehashing history changes outcomes.

  29. Ragu

    Who can believe that, in the 21st century, small European countries will be better able to defend their economic interests and their values by being divided? Small and contiguous European countries are more likely to tackle terrorism threats by reinforcing the cooperation between their intelligence services and pooling some of them to benefit from economies of scale. World inequalities in standards of living are creating a migration pressure over European countries. Who can think that putting a border around each European country will work to regulate immigration?

    Is Page and his Moroccan mate for real?

    They appear to suffer from a delusion that requires chemical treatment

  30. Roger

    His track record as economy minister includes implementing the Loi Macron (Macron Act), a series of measures aimed at injecting flexibility into the French labour market, cutting bureaucratic red tape, and promoting competition.

    This would be the same Macron who wants to ban British businesses from bidding for EU contracts?

  31. Tim Neilson

    Who can believe that, in the 21st century, small European countries will be better able to defend their economic interests and their values by being divided?
    This is exactly correct! That’s why Switzerland is such a poverty-stricken chaotic hellhole. You KNOW it makes sense!
    Who can think that putting a border around each European country will work to regulate immigration?
    I know! I know! Sane people with three figure IQ’s!

  32. struth

    Does Sinc know these spittoons of leftism?

    How do these morons get to post on this thread?

    These are the pure western hating open borders loons that are brainwashing the kiddies and they get to post here as well?

  33. Fisky

    Who can think that putting a border around each European country will work to regulate immigration?

    That’s exactly what Hungary has done. Very successfully.

  34. Fisky

    Le Pen also championed an isolationist foreign policy, proposing to leave the European Union and return to a romanticized sovereign nation-state. This is a dangerous illusion. We live in an era with many global problems, which require global solutions. Who can believe that, in the 21st century, small European countries will be better able to defend their economic interests and their values by being divided?

    But pooling sovereignty has been a manifest failure, with the obvious example being the EU. It hasn’t defended its external borders, and the single currency has failed to raise growth. In fact, growth rates have steadily declined since Schengen.

  35. struth

    Le Pen also championed an isolationist foreign policy, proposing to leave the European Union and return to a romanticized sovereign nation-state. This is a dangerous illusion. We live in an era with many global problems, which require global solutions. Who can believe that, in the 21st century, small European countries will be better able to defend their economic interests and their values by being divided?

    The dumb runs deep here, but also using left wing weasel words.

    and return to a romanticized sovereign nation-state

    Yep, a sovereign nation where the people get to decide the laws and government is just “romantic” to this tool.
    Such out dated theories these “sovereign nations” are to our hip parasite of the wealth it creates and the security it affords.

    We live in an era with many global problems, which require global solutions.

    This is weasel words translated meaning, we need global governance.

    It’s such a stupid, misleading, and quite a meaningless sentence.
    They also say, go global, think local.
    I’ll fix my “local”, you fix yours,
    and hey presto, global problem solved.

    Australia solved it’s boat people problem.
    It acted locally.
    Just like every other country in the world can do.

    Global is just lots of locals
    By acting locally you can fix all global problems, but even more so, he advocates undemocratic centralised governance as a form of solving problems caused by undemocratic centralised governments.

    Who can believe that, in the 21st century, small European countries will be better able to defend their economic interests and their values by being divided?

    FMD.
    FMD
    If uniting under socialism and an undemocratic bureaucracy is the choice, who could believe you would be that thick to have to ask the question?

    Anyway, most of the voters in England that understand wealth is created by free people in any friggin’ century, seem to believe uniting with socialism and totalitarian , corrupt centralised governance is a recipe for disaster.
    Why is Sinc allowing trolls to post here?

  36. Yohan

    Macron is far better than Le Pen on economics, labor policy, trade, regulation, liberty, freedom and size of government.

    But what good are any of those gains if in return you end up with a 3rd world Islamic country? Any near term gains Marcon implements will easily be wiped out once the 3rd world African and Arabs starts voting like they always do, namely for wealth redistribution and bigger government.

    You will end up in a far worse place than if Le Pen and her white socialist France had won.

  37. NewChum

    . Macron is backed by 40 of France’s top economists

    Thus he is disqualified from high office. Anyone that economists endorse is someone you don’t want.

    *cough* Trumbull *cough*

    Economic growth is a luxury a country at civil war doesn’t get to take part in.

    When the invading force has a beachead and is outbreeding you 5:1 while you pay with your Danegeld to keep them quiet you are doomed, doomed, doomed. Who is going to vote for the sacre coure to remain a Christian church in twenty years time? When invaders feel bold enough to just walk into any old church and slit the throats of the priests, and no revenge is taken, how long before they just walk in, brandish the knife and declare the church is theirs. Or are all these newcomers so overcome with savouir faire they’re going to don berets, Open a burgundy and have some cured ham, and reject the old country?

    Laugh. Economists. As if France is going to have anything resembling an economy by 2030.

    Well, I’m not sacrificing myself or any family members to bail them out this time. And I’ve got a photo of he Eiffel tower already. At least I can say I’ve been to a Muslim country.

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