Friday, September 21, 2012

Le Pen's UltralaÏque Offensive

Is Marine Le Pen reverting to the ways of her father? She soft-pedaled the anti-Semitism in her presidential campaign, but now she has launched an offensive against both the veil and the kippa in public places. This artfully poses "balance" as a criterion in advancing an agenda directed at what she calls "foreign fundamentalists" in France. The moment is well chosen to coincide with heightened fears of an incident following the provocation from Charlie Hebdo.

Le Pen also shrewdly implies that her move is simply an extension of existing anti-veil regulations, but this is not true. Only the burka is banned in all public places. The veil cannot be worn in schools but can be worn elsewhere. With this escalation, the Front National signals that it is not going to allow the value of its traditional xenophobic fonds de commerce to decline simply because it has also discovered economic populism.

One wonders what internal tensions in the FN may have contributed to this shift.