France’s primaries and a remedy for radicalism

Francois Fillon greets supporters at a campaign rally in Paris
Francois Fillon may be the only person in France who can beat Marine Le Pen in the country’s presidential election next year (source: dpa)

In France’s presidential primaries, Francois Fillon received a very strong mandate as the center-right Republican party’s candidate. Mr. Fillon is a French patriot and a Catholic, with liberal views on state governance and economics. He might be the only person who could beat Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election next year.

Intellectuals, as well as the political and media establishments around the world, are deeply worried that the system they call liberal democracy is under threat. As could clearly be seen in the United States’ presidential election, the world is being split between political movements. One side wants to maintain the status quo, while the other uses the public’s justified concerns to ratchet up fears and propose nationalist, protectionist or otherwise aggressive measures.

Both are trying to build or maintain their positions without introducing programs that would require real leadership. Such programs would be painful in the short-term and therefore unpopular. What is lacking, however, are movements – the classic European liberal and conservative movements – that address the real causes behind the public’s worries and try to find pragmatic solutions.

Some larger global trends have brought about these concerns. People worry that exaggerated multiculturalism is threatening their traditional values. When those who champion multiculturalism ignore and denigrate local traditions, it backfires, fueling protectionist and anti-globalization sentiment.

The exorbitant public spending of the last 30 years due to populist politics in liberal democracies will inevitably lead to economic hardship, while the “remedy” – cheap money – destroys savings, especially in pension funds. Political correctness limits the debate. Real opposition is quickly marginalized and labeled as “radical.” The established democratic parties have failed by opting for expediency for at least the last 20 years – and continue their failing policies.

Nationalism vs. patriotism

We should also be clear about what is meant by “nationalism” and “patriotism,” as these terms are frequently misunderstood. Nationalism is a sort of overprotectiveness that leads to intolerance of other languages and behaviors, or blocks access to foreign goods and services. It can also manifest itself as aggression toward other nations, either in propaganda, in mentality and, in extreme cases, through foreign policy and war. Patriotism, on the other hand, is a constructive national pride, striving for excellence in the country but not discriminating against others. Successful countries are patriotic, not nationalistic.

Francois Fillon is one of the few leaders in the world who proposes programs that could actually solve the problems of our time. Not only is he a patriot, but also a staunch pro-European in the same sense that Charles de Gaulle was: espousing Europe as a fatherland of fatherlands. As a practicing Catholic, he respects Christian values, but he also has a liberal outlook. He is the first French politician who has offered real measures to get France’s economy and finances back on track by reducing the state’s role in society.

Over the last few years, Marine Le Pen’s National Front has become France’s most powerful political movement. It was able to attract voters from all sides, as patriots, liberals and Catholics could no longer find a home in any other party. The socialist parties did not even really represent the dedicated employed anymore, instead preferring to support systems that require less work. With this in mind, it seems Francois Fillon has a good chance to win the presidential elections. France is in big need of a turnaround. Real patriotism is a remedy for radicalism.

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