In 1981, the French Socialist Party, or Parti Socialiste, took power for the first time when Francois Mitterrand won national elections. Mitterrand appealed to his constituents by instituting a populist, far-left economic policy shortly after taking office, which included increasing pensions to older people, raising housing allocations, and augmenting health benefits for unemployed and part-time working citizens. Today, Francois Hollande (also a member of the Parti Socialiste) serves as the president of France, but, in the final hours of his tenure, his approval ratings have plummeted to 17%, according to Elabe Polling Institute. This made for a hotly contested, four candidate race in France that is plaguing global markets with uncertainty, and further alerting the world of the general political tumult that doesn’t just exist in the United States.
The unprecedented catalyst in the French presidential election is National Front Candidate Marine Le Pen, who has just survived the first round of voting and will face Centrist Party Candidate Emmanuel Macron in the second round of voting on May 7.
The National Front party is a far-right institution that favors anti-immigration policies, a “France first” economic agenda, and promotes the importance of law and order. Moreover, Le Pen’s surge in popularity can be attributed to the distrust, disgust and sheer disapproval of President Hollande and his liberal policies.
Campaigning for economic protectionism and against illegal immigration and migrant entries alike, Le Pen’s political agenda seems to be quite parallel with that of President Donald J. Trump.
Similarly, analysts and Le Pen alike have accredited disillusioned leftist voters for her success in the same way that Trump relied upon the Reagan Democrat.
On the surface, all that this similarity proves is that the average, working-class voter is fickle. To many, this notion is disheartening, but, in reality, this is the most reassuring aspect of a democratic system.
To millennials, it may not seem like just yesterday, but, in the presidential elections of 1980, Ronald Reagan rode the wave of the conservative movement to beat the incumbent Jimmy Carter by 440 electoral votes. This transition of power was monumental due to the starkly opposing views of the two politicians, much like that of Barack Obama and Donald Trump or the National Front and the Parti Socialiste, and, inevitably, left a portion of the nation feeling angry and abandoned. In effect, after 12 years, the United States voted overwhelmingly Democrat.
This instance, like many others throughout history, confirmed that whether elections turn out left, right, up, or down, it doesn’t really matter in the long run. The beauty of the democratic system is that it will always correct itself in the same way that a keel keeps a ship upright and sailing.
So, in layman’s terms, the world isn’t coming to an end; Keep faith in our political system because each and every one of our ideals are renewable resources.