18% to the National Front… Sarkozy’s evil strategy of making eyes at the extreme right all the way through his campaign seems to have backfired. In vain did people in his party warn him to stop banging on about immigration and halal meat every five minutes and try to talk about policy. This morning you can be sure that the president was ruing his decision to ignore them and follow the advice of his eminence grise, the dark lord, Patrick Buisson. This is a man who was suckled on Charles Maurras‘ proto-fascism, is admired as a strategist by Jean Marie Le Pen and who earnt his stripes as a columnist with the extreme right weekly newspaper, Minute. “I owe my election to him,” Sarkozy once declared. Buisson’s tactic in 2007 was to siphon votes from the National Front and Philippe de Villier’s Movement Pour la France. This strategy worked once. Why, Sarko must have asked himself, shouldn’t it work again?
The big difference is that this time the electorate knew him. After five years, they felt they knew him intimately. And they detested him. It was a grave mistake of Sarkozy’s not to try to dissimulate his petulant, dictatorial personality a little behind his track record – his reforms to the civil service, his handling of the euro crisis during his term as European President, of the Russia Georgia conflict and his decisive action against Libya. But his deep narcissism and childishness would have made it impossible for him to do this.
So there we have it, 18% for Marine Le Pen. There will be a kind of perverse delight at this result, at least in the little corner of rural France where I live. Round here Hollande is seen as a traitor to the left. In my nearest village it was his electoral portrait, not Sarkozy’s that was daubed with a devil’s moustache. (For my neighbours Sarko is below contempt.) Yesterday’s terrifying result will reassure people that anti-fascism is not an irrelevant, obsolete struggle. It will prove to those most fearful of the advance of consumerist vacuity that ideology is not dead.