27 February: After Trump, Le Pen? Racism and Anti-Racism in the French elections

o-trump-petry-lepen-facebookJust as we are getting used to the idea of President Donald Trump, the far right is anticipating gains in several national elections in 2017. Whether Geert Wilders in the Netherlands or the AfD in Germany, this danger is real, but nowhere more real than in France. Polls are showing more support for Marine Le Pen than for any other candidate. It seems that, as in 2002, the candidate of the Fascist Front National will be in the run-off between the final 2 candidates for president.

The elections take place against the background of the State of Emergency and Labour Law imposed by Socialist president François Hollande and the demonstrations which they provoked. The demonstrations provoked harsh repression, and Hollande’s unpopularity is so great that he is not standing again. Instead the Socialist candidate is the much more left wing Benoit Hamon.

The other major factor in the election is rising Islamophobia, with 63% of French people feeling that Islam is “too visible” in France, and the same percentage saying that they are “opposed” to the Muslim headscarf. Such feelings – and the popularity of Le Pen – has led to many politicians embracing racism, resulting in issues like the “Burkhini ban” last year.

On 27 February, Selim Nadi, a French anti-racist activist and member of the external editorial board of the Marxist magazine Période will be talking about racism around the French elections, and the strategies required to counter it. Should the left wingers around the Front de Gauche’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon unite with Hamon in a joint electoral campaign against the Nazis? Thousands attend each meeting addressed by Mélenchon and Hamon – how can they be brought into anti-racist activity? With a March for Diginity planned for March 19th, what is the role of the extra-parliamentary movement?

Le Pen is also building links with far right parties in Europe, attending a recent Europe-wide conference in Koblenz organized by the AfD. As part of our fight against the AfD’s racism, we will also be discussing with Selim which strategies of combatting the FN have been successful in France, and which have been less successful, with the aim of gaining some orientation for our work around the coming German general election.

Monday, 27 February, 7pm

DIE LINKE Neukölln, Wipperstraße 6 (S-/U-Bahn Neukölln)