Is This the France That You Want, Really?

03/24/2015 10:49 am ET | Updated May 24, 2015

Since many French people today think that the National Front should govern, let us try to understand what would happen if support for France's far-right National Front continues to grow until 2017.

For one thing, at the end of 2015, candidates of the National Front would win hundreds of seats in the regional elections; maybe they would even be victorious in some parts of the country and implement their ideas, and, at the same time, explain that they cannot do anything meaningful without national power.

If, in May 2017, still disappointed by what is happening and despite -- or perhaps because of -- a slight increase in economic growth, a majority of the French people send Marine Le Pen in the Elysee, they will also give her a month later, as is the case after every presidential election, a legislative majority, foiling the plans of those who think they can vote with impunity for her, because she would never have a majority in the Parliament.

The National Front would then have all the powers for five years. And it would even have the right, by referendum, to negotiate an exit from the euro, or at least the introduction of a national currency, to question the freedom of movement of persons, the common agricultural policy and the essentials of cultural and social policy. Then the National Front will declare, as did Syriza in Greece, that it will be able to establish an alliance among southern European countries against Berlin and Brussels.

It would not be difficult to show where such a policy might lead: A recipe for disaster. Before long, like Greece, and despite the inflated talks of the new majority, the French would be forced to admit that they are more dependent on the rest of the world, rather than the opposite: The world can do without our products; the opposite is not true because we get most of our energy, our machine tools, our tourists, the financing of our public debt and external deficit (that the return to national currency will no longer hide) from other countries. One might wish it otherwise, some may even curse, but this is the way it is.

But that would not be the worst: It would be in the abandonment of the values of French identity. During at least five years, France would indeed deny all that made it great over the last two centuries: Its motto, and in particular the third word in it. It would go back on past commitments such as death penalty, human rights, development aid, community life; it would abandon any plan of European project; it would consider Africa as a threat rather than an opportunity; it would be hostile to a religion that is followed by several million of its citizens; it would consider residents living in these neighborhoods as potential terrorists or at least thugs to be watched; it would be hostile to foreign workers, foreign products, foreign movies, foreign artists, foreign patients.
France, no longer so welcoming, will in turn receive a poor reception; many French people, who had hitherto refused to leave the country, will do so, with a heavy heart. And the first victims of this return to reality will be those who voted for the National Front.

Like any other extreme party, they will first point the finger and blame their enemies for their own failings. Then, when there will no longer be any choice but between dictatorship or denial, they will choose denial, to retain office, which is their true raison d'être.

Then they will justify their action by saying that they are acting as the Left did in 1983; it will not be the case: In 1983, the Left did not abandon any of their reforms, most of which (abolition of the death penalty, decentralization, liberalized the media) were maintained afterwards by all successive governments. While no reforms made by the National Front can be maintained later by a democratic government be it from the Left or the Right. Not the return of the death penalty, the end of the euro, leaving Schengen, or the expulsion of foreign students. None will be maintained.
And yet, even though five years later, in 2022, France might wake up and have second thoughts on the decisions it has made, nonetheless, they will have been taken; and France will have lost its soul, in its eyes and in the eyes of the world. Several decades will be necessary for the country to remove this disgrace.

Is that really what we want?