We often hear about discontented French voters turning to Marine Le Pen’s far right, but not about the tens of millions who’ve given up on voting at all. They were the key in yesterday’s regional elections — and they’re the ones the Left has to win.
Aurelien Mondon is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Bath. His research focuses on racism, populism, and the mainstreaming of far-right politics. His latest book, Reactionary Democracy: How Racism and the Populist Far Right Became Mainstream, cowritten with Aaron Winter, is now out with Verso.
Ahead of the 2022 election, French media are presenting an inevitable duel between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and the “populist” Marine Le Pen. Yet for decades we’ve seen how this liberal framing fuels far-right talking points — echoing Le Pen’s false claim to stand for those “left behind” against the status quo.
We cannot ignore the relationship between the media, government, political parties, and the UK’s rising tide of far-right violence.
The establishment’s panicked reaction to Mélenchon should convince us that he stands a real chance of winning.