“Never again”, on the street, in our speeches and in the polls

While the first round of the presidential election ended on the face of it, similar to what happened in 2017, we fear a much more serious political outcome. The inexorable rise of the far right and the trivialization of its discourse throughout society, the particularly worrying international political situation and the propaganda of authoritarian regimes now mainstream in our countries, point to the intensity of the danger to our democracies. Faced with this observation, we must sound the alarm: a victory for Marine Le Pen would not only be a political defeat for the Democrats, it would also pose a direct threat to Europe, to minorities and to international peace.

The three candidates who came out on top in this first round, each in their own way tell how much the current situation is not in all respects comparable to that of 5 years ago. Emmanuel Macron, who had presented himself as the candidate of the rally of the right and left during his previous campaign, is coming from a mandate in which his policies have been characterized by an attitude that many believe was sensitive to certain themes of the far right. An unwelcome policy on refugees before the war in Ukraine, the offensive against “separatism”, which some of the electorate saw as further hostility towards Muslims, the positioning that some find complacent before February 24 towards Vladimir Putin and the commitment to the Assad regime, perceived as insufficient, are all elements that, in addition to certain policies at a social and economic level, may have tarnished his image among the progressives whose voices he wanted to propagate.

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Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who presented himself as the candidate of the Left Rally and the opposition to Emmanuel Macron, failed to convince those who criticized him in the long run for his nationalist and anti-European approach, his willing anti-system comments sometimes flirt with the crudest conspiracy theories and are recurrent endorsement of dictatorships, especially the Russian and Syrian regimes. Even if the score is historic, it cannot be suppressed that these compromises have divided the left for a long time.

But above all, while the war in Ukraine directly threatens Europe, nothing has prevented the rise of the far right. Marine Le Pen thus plays on a hatred of the ‘system’ that is increasingly being pushed in our countries by pro-Kremlin propaganda. She also embodies, together with Éric Zemmour, racism, anti-Semitism and hatred against Muslims, who are increasingly open-minded in public opinion. It also symbolizes a certain triumph of “anti-Brussels” thinking, which permanently blames the European Union for the economic and political problems plaguing France.

Leaving aside the – sometimes profound – differences the progressives may have with the outgoing president, the danger that the far right would be in power in a country like France, in the heart of Europe, is incomparable, both for our social and democratic achievements. for international stability. At a time when war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed by the Russian military in Ukraine, the coming to power of a leader of a political party whose ties to the Kremlin include ideological, structural and financial resources would pose a direct threat to peace, the very existence of the European Union and the democratic struggle.

In this regard, let us recall the precedent of the war in Syria: we know that if dictatorships are not stopped in their undertaking of repression and terror, they will grant themselves the right to declare “victory” over a belligerent party that is carrying out the massacres. of their civilian population. In this way they gain power and influence on the international stage, where they spread the denial of human rights and individual freedom. If we do not vigorously oppose the propaganda of dictatorships and the conspiratorial rhetoric inherent in them, these stories will continue to gain momentum in our countries. On Capitol Hill, in January 2021, we saw where these speeches inevitably lead: vigorously questioning democratic institutions and their functioning.

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We suffer today from an increasingly relativistic public debate, where the tendency to put the excesses of democracies and the repression of dictatorial regimes on an equal footing is widespread. The rhetoric of selective outrage, profusely put forth by dictatorships to justify their crimes, inevitably leads to their rehabilitation. This relativism usually presents the struggle for human rights as a pretext for our governments to stay in power. It could lead us to the worst: the tilt of the European space towards authoritarianism, violence against minorities in our society, an unraveling of the rule of law and ultimately a threat to the peace built after the Second World War. Faced with this looming danger, today we must wave ‘never again’, on the streets, in our speeches and at the ballot box.

– Nicolas Henin consultant, author

-Isabelle Kersimonjournalist, founder of the Institute for Research and Studies on Radicalities (INRER inrer.org)

– Stephanie Lamyauthor ofAgora toxica, the uncivilized society in the internet age and co-founder of the association Danaides.org

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– Antoinette Vredeactivist

– Marie Peltierauthor, specialist in propaganda and conspiracy

-Jean-Yves Pranchereprofessor of political theory at the Free University of Brussels

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– Nicholas Tenzerteacher at Sciences Po Paris and director of Russia Office

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– Cecile VaissieUniversity Professor of Russian, Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies (Rennes 2)

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