European elections: what does a FN victory mean for expats in France?

marinelepen - European elections: what does it mean for expats in France? MyFrenchLife.orgFrance has recently been rocked by a shocking result in the European elections.

The Front National, a party of the extreme right known for its anti-EU and anti-Islam stance, has come out victorious. Meanwhile Francois Hollande’s ruling party, the Parti Socialist, has come trailing behind at third place.

Most notably perhaps for our Francophile community, are FN’s blatant anti-immigration policies. Many of us dream of packing up and living in France one day, so this begs the question: is FN’s recent success an indication that the French no longer want us?

The results in France

With a leading 25% of the vote, Marine Le Pen’s FN beat out UMP (party of the infamous Nicholas Sarkozy) with 21% and swept the carpet from under Hollande’s feet, with PS only achieving a measly 14% of the vote. The victory of Le Pen means that 24 members of FN, including Le Pen herself, will likely go to Strasbourg.

France is not the only country that has been shocked by the rise of ‘Eurosceptic’ parties however, with Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Greece and more also experiencing such upheavals in their political landscapes.

A board displays provisional results of the European Parliament election at the EU Parliament in Brussels - European elections: what does it mean for expats in France?

There have been many informative articles written in the French press both celebrating and decrying FN’s success – depending on the media outlet’s political leanings. International media too has been critiquing the new change and what it will mean for European politics. It seems unnecessary therefore to rehash what has already being discussed and instead focus on an issue not yet at the forefront of any news channel – but extremely relevant to much of our community.

What will this mean for us Francophile expats and travellers?

Le Front National

Established in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, FN has always been considered an extreme right party, often accused of racism and nationalism. Despite this, their popularity has grown over the last fifteen years or so with Le Pen senior entering into the second tour of the presidential race in 2002.

“Is FN’s recent success an indication that the French no longer want us expats?”

Taking over from her father in 2011, Marine Le Pen has tried very hard to distance her party from racism claims while still remaining strong on an anti-immigration front. Marine Le Pen has proved to be a force to be reckoned with, often speaking in simple yet emphatic language that reaches the ears – and apparently, hearts – of many in the French populace.

Much of FN’s policies rest on reclaiming a large degree of their sovereignty that was forfeited in joining the European Union.

France’s future

Given FN’s anti-immigration policies, the foothold they have been steadily gaining is a bit worrying for those in our community who aspire to live in France. Changes to immigration laws and the extent of their membership to the EU could be a source of trouble and hassle for many Francophiles wanting to move to France.

The French have always taken their democratic rights seriously and are not afraid to make their voice heard. In these results, are they telling the world in express terms that they don’t want us expats anymore?

Critics have warned not to take this vote as representative of all of France’s thoughts, as only 43% of the population actually voted in the European elections. All the same, the result does raise many valid questions about what the French public want.

Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini, Geert Wilders, Harald Vilimsky - European elections: what does it mean for expats in France? -

Francois Hollande, the ‘normal’ president – as he promoted himself before he was elected – has proved to disappoint many French voters who put their faith in him. The sometimes scandalous days of Sarkozy that the Republic so much wanted to distance themselves from is now being looked back on with almost fondness. In such a political climate it seems that votes for the FN are less for Marine Le Pen and more against the disappointments of the major parties of PS and UMP…

At least, that’s what we hope.

It is hard to tell how FN’s rise in power could influence immigration laws except that they would become more stringent to some degree. Only time will tell.

I, for one, hope to return to live in France once more down the track and it would be a devastating blow to find this dream no longer realisable.

What are your thoughts on FN’s success in France? How do you think it will influence politics in France and beyond? Share your thoughts in the comments below, we’d love to hear what you think.

Image credits
1. Marine Le Pen, via the Independent.
2. Provisional results of the European Parliament election, via Reuters.  
3. Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini, Geert Wilders, Harald Vilimsky, via Le Figaro.

About the Contributor

Sahara Wilson

I have just returned from living in Paris and love to indulge in all things French even when in my hometown of Melbourne. I hope to be a lifelong learner, taking my readers with me as we discover worldly delights! Tweet me @DesertDeWilson or find me on  Google+.

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  1. Caroline Harris Jun 8, 2014 at 5:37 PM - Reply

    “Is FN’s recent success an indication that the French no longer want us expats?”

    Living in France, my opinion is that very generally some French people feel they are giving away too much of their hard-earned taxes away, rightly or wrongly. In this respect, if an expat arrives in France and has a job and pays their way or retires here with their pension it makes no difference. Generationally, acknowledging that everyone is different, the younger French generation ‘seem’ to adore the English and American cultures, fashion and music, the parents of this generation ‘seem’ to be open-minded through their children, travels, jobs etc, the older and perhaps more traditional French may be more ambivalent.

    • Sahara Wilson Jun 19, 2014 at 10:30 AM - Reply

      Bonjour Caroline, thanks for your thoughts. I agree about the generational gap in thinking. I noticed this also when I was living in France – but isn’t this the case in so many different countries too?! 😉

  2. Bethany Keats Jun 17, 2014 at 8:13 PM - Reply

    As someone who may one day be affected by this, I watch the rise of FN with worry.

  3. Gijs Van Breugel Jun 28, 2014 at 5:18 AM - Reply

    Living in Normandy France near Rouen – I am quite convinced that we are talking mainly about protest votes against president Hollande. Foreigners are widely welcomes as long as they contribute to the economy, taxes, entrepreneurship and of course social life. The No-Vote mainly turned towards refugees and others that come to France and in the eye of the french just take and do not give.

    • Sahara Wilson Jun 30, 2014 at 3:54 PM - Reply

      You are right Gijs, the ‘protest vote’ is something to bear in mind. Also given that under 50% of the population voted the results don’t really indicate a swing against foreigners on the part of all French people.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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