Nine fascists will take their seats in the French parliament – three times the previous number – following the second round of voting in the legislative elections today.
The fascist Front National has taken eight seats, including one for party leader Marine Le Pen, while the Jacques Bompard, the former FN big shot who set up his own Ligue du Sud splinter group has also been returned to parliament.
At the last elections in 2012, the FN took just two seats, with Bompard making up the third fascist last time around.
The big gain for the FN follows its record results in the French presidential elections, when Le Pen made it through to the second round and took a huge 10.6 million votes. She was beaten by neoliberal centrist Emmanuel Macron, now the president.
Macron’s En Marche party stole the headlines as it swept to a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections – exit polls suggest it will end up with a total of around 360 seats, including those of its centrist Modem allies. This will give Macron a clear majority in the National Assembly.
But the other headline figure was the huge abstention rate – 56.5% of registered voters stayed at home, the highest figure ever. The previous highest abstention rate came in 2012, when 44.6% declined to vote.
Leftwing parties – the Parti Communiste and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s France Insoumise – have between them taken more seats than the fascists. With 94% of the votes counted, they had gained 25 seats between them.
But it appears that many voters who are deeply alienated from Macron – the architect of a vicious labour law attacking workers’ rights under the former government of centre left Parti Socialiste president François Hollande – have registered their disapproval by staying away from the polls as it became clear that Macron was set to sweep the board.
Less remarked is the catastrophic collapse of the Parti Socialiste, which has scraped in with around 46 seats, crashing down from the majority of 284 that it previously controlled. Hollande’s desperate commitment to austerity politics has ensured his party’s wipe-out.
The centre right party Les Républicains has also fallen, from 199 seats to around 125 this time.
In actual numbers – with 94% of the total votes counted – the FN had taken 1.57 million votes, outpolling Modem’s 1.07 million and the combined total of the two main leftwing parties, also slightly over 1 million votes.
Fascists across Europe will be lifted by the continuing success of the FN – it is a beacon for fascist and far right parties everywhere. The FN’s gains have given the fascists their highest number of MPs since the 1980s, when the electoral system made it easier for smaller parties to achieve electoral success.
Macron’s neoliberal presidency will be enormously strengthened by the backing of a majority of MPs in the National Assembly. That will breed further discontent in French society, where workers are sick and tired of austerity, job losses and economic crisis.
The fascists will be aiming to capitalise on this discontent, with the added impetus of Marine Le Pen’s new parliamentary platform. The need for a mass antifascist movement to expose the FN and try to push it back remains urgent.