With an eye towards their own upcoming presidential election and the growing popularity of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, French citizens took to the streets of Paris on Saturday to protest U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, vowing to mobilize against the international rise of the far-right.
“The results of the United States presidential election have outraged people around the globe,” declared the organizers, known as Paris Against Trump, who came together through their work with the International Support for Black Lives campaign.
“Given the influence and powerful position of the United States on the world’s geopolitical stage, Trump is a threat not only to people in the U.S., but to people throughout the world,” the group’s manifesto continued. “His brand of populist scapegoating is not unique to the United States. Following Brexit earlier this year, right-wing demagoguery is on the rise throughout Europe. Trump’s victory serves as encouragement to dangerous demagogues everywhere.”
Indeed, Trump’s election has been widely compared to the United Kingdom’s surprise vote to leave the European Union, as both campaigns used divisive, anti-immigrant rhetoric to stoke animosity against the ruling political class.
Now, the international community is focused on France’s upcoming election—the first round of which begins on April 23, 2017—as the next indicator of the potency of this movement.
A new Ipsos poll released Sunday shows the far-right Le Pen gaining ground. However, when pitted in a hypothetical match-up against Republican Alain Juppé, who The Independent notes is the “strong favorite to succeed Francois Hollande,” Le Pen remains behind.
Juppé, the mayor of Bordeaux who was prime minister under Jacques Chirac, must first face former prime minister François Fillon, who won the first round primary on Sunday, in the Republican Party runoff election on November 27.
Explaining how the anti-establishment undercurrent could play out in France, The Independent reports:
While Mr. Juppé holds leads of between 4 and 7 per cent in three other scenarios including him, the results are likely to add to growing fears that the rise of global populism could see Ms. Le Pen secure a surprise victory in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s U.S. election win.
Under the French election system, barring the unlikely possibility one candidate gains an overall majority in the first round vote, the two candidates with the most votes will contest a second and decisive round on 7 May.
Second round opinion polls have consistently given Mr Juppé a significant lead over Ms Le Pen.
Much like Trump, Le Pen has risen to power on a campaign of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim protectionism. But, as Saturday’s protest made clear, residents are prepared to counter the divisive rhetoric, whether spread domestically or abroad.
“We must roll up our sleeves and mobilize,” the group declared. “We must show our willingness to fight for the protection of our rights and democratic ideals. We must say NO to racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, xenophobia, and white nationalism. We must counter [Trump’s] hate with messages of tolerance, solidarity, and love.”
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