Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center Associate Director Alina Polyakova writes for The American Interest on the rise of far-right parties in Europe in light of Europe’s failure to create a coherent civic identity:
If French presidential elections were held today, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, could come out on top in the first round. Ms. Le Pen would easily beat the current president, François Hollande, and might even edge out the center-right’s most likely candidate, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to recent polls. Voters hostile to the National Front would still band together to hand Marine a defeat in the second round if elections were held today, the same polls show. She would, however, end up carrying between 41 and 45 percent of the vote.
And that poll was held before the migrant crisis convulsed Europe.
The National Front, the party founded by Ms. Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972, has never been as popular as it is today. At the height of his own popularity, Mr. Le Pen won 16.9 percent of the vote in the first round of the 2002 presidential elections, but was soundly defeated in the second round. His daughter, who took over the party leadership in 2011, beat her father’s best showing on her first try, coming in with 17.9 percent of the vote in the 2012 elections. With the atmosphere in France increasingly uncertain, she may well have the shot in 2017 that her father never did.