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Now That the French Presidential Elections Are Over, What's Next?

Wednesday, 08 May 2002 12:00 AM

Last week, the world watched an unprecedentedly tense presidential election campaign in France. On Sunday, an estimated 41 million voters had to choose between conservative Jacques Chirac, 69, and the 73-year-old former paratrooper, ultra-nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Attention to this campaign centered around Le Pen's political platform, such as his anti-immigration and anti-EU (European Union) positions, labeled by liberal-left politicians as extremely nationalistic and anti-democratic.

According to press reports, Le Pen opposes an extensive role for France in the EU, which is nothing but an attempt by European nations to challenge American economic and financial power. He called the EU's policy "Euro-globalization" and criticized the organization, its institutions and its currency, the euro.

He also condemns both illegal and legal immigration to his country, which currently has about 5 million Muslims (about 10 percent of France's entire population), with more arriving daily.

As the French media report, Muslim immigrants arrive dead poor but very well versed in Islamic law and French regulations, which give them places to live and welfare benefits while requiring them to do nothing.

Their numerous children turn to drugs and crime, and their quarters are almost a no-man's-land to non-Arabs, including the police.

The French media also reported that Le Pen's most ardent supporters are poor, white hardworking Frenchmen and women who cannot afford expensive houses or to send their children to elite schools, unlike the elite politicians who govern France, Belgium, Britain and Germany, who, according to the media, do not care about poor- and middle-class people, and demonize those who raise their voices in protest by calling them racists.

After Le Pen's first-round victory on April 21, the liberal-left organized a coalition against him. It was supported by most liberal political parties, the press, artists, sports personalities and religious leaders, who came together to urge a Chirac victory, with the left hoping the sheer size of his triumph would be an endorsement of its dominant role in the anti-Le Pen campaign.

Even the Communist daily L'Humanite, under the headline "Drown Le Pen," urged people to vote for Chirac. It was also a first for the mainstream liberal dailies Liberation, France-Soir and Le Parisien, which said the French republic was too fragile to admit anyone to power but Chirac.

With last Sunday's election, President Chirac was swept back into office with the largest margin of victory since France began electing its presidents by direct suffrage almost 50 years ago. After his victory, the leaders of neighboring European Union nations breathed a chorus of relief at the outcome, which rejected Le Pen's presidential candidacy.

The French people have made their decision and we respect it. However, the problems France faced before remain in place and will continue to influence the political and social life of this nation and all of Europe.

Unemployment and crime are extremely high and there is no sign the new Chirac government will improve the situation anytime soon. The wave of illegal immigration is growing and bringing cells of international terrorists to France and, via France, to the other nations of the Western world.

Last Sunday's vote against Le Pen was simply a vote against the deportation of illegal immigrants and withdrawal from the EU, with no defined positive platform. Chirac's ability to create a nationwide vision around which both the left and the right can unify is under a cloud of doubt.

After the elections, Le Pen predicted that President Chirac would lose some of his following by the June legislative elections and said that "we look to the future with great confidence, and we will meet again."

The story of the future of French politics is not over and will be continued next month, on June 9 and 16, when the French people determine whether the national assembly will be controlled by the liberals or the conservatives.

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Last week, the world watched an unprecedentedly tense presidential election campaign in France. On Sunday, an estimated 41 million voters had to choose between conservative Jacques Chirac, 69, and the 73-year-old former paratrooper, ultra-nationalist Jean-Marie Le...
Now,That,the,French,Presidential,Elections,Are,Over,,What's,Next?
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2002-00-08
Wednesday, 08 May 2002 12:00 AM
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