domingo, 17 de abril de 2016
Why I gave up on Le Pen
Why I gave up on Le Pen
Almost 7 million French citizens made the same mistake I did by joining the Front National. They need a credible alternative.
By AYMERIC CHAUPRADE 4/17/16, 7:23 AM CET
PARIS — I left France’s National Front for one specific reason: Marine Le Pen tried to give people like me the false impression that her party has split from its past and is ready to govern seriously. This is far from true.
After the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket in January 2015, I was the only party member to vote for the passenger name record legislation. I was considered a dissident, for putting the safety of French citizens ahead of ideology.
My reasons for joining the party in the first place are more puzzling to me, and perhaps shed some light on why so many French people vote for the FN.
The old establishment had failed France for 40 years. Le Pen, however, gave the impression of leading a modern party. She presented it as a patriotic movement that believes in French sovereignty and backs a responsible program, not as a party that considers immigration to be the root of the country’s problems.
It’s essential that we control immigration and focus on integration, of course, but we cannot demonize migrants in the process. I was taken in as Le Pen’s foreign affairs adviser when I became an MEP but I soon realized that there was no place for my values in the National Front, not least because the party has very few principles of its own.
After the terrorist attacks in Paris, I was vocal about the problems caused by the rise of radicalism in France. From my intimate knowledge of the Arabic world, where I have been teaching and advising heads of state for years, I know that honest Muslims make sincere French citizens. I have long argued that believers of all religions are seriously harmed by radicalism and violence — in the Middle East and Africa, of course, but more and more in Europe too.
But France is not defined by one race or religion. We are very loyal to a secular model of assimilation that welcomes anyone as long as they subscribe to our basic social values. We should be proud that migrants want to come to France and become a part of our common history, language and culture.
Freedom, equality, fair competition and democratic pluralism are France’s founding values, but our leaders — and the National Front especially — appear to have forgotten them. That is why I created the party “Les Français Libres” — to bring these values back into politics. I believe in personal liberty and responsibility, and what the French call our “humanist heritage” — the power of individuals to make rational decisions and do the right thing, but also to question authority or dogma.
France must restore people’s faith in their country, and in their future. It’s certainly true that where we are going counts for more than where we have been — but I also believe that we have to learn from our mistakes. Almost 7 million French citizens made the same mistake I did by joining or supporting the National Front. We need to build an alternative in the fight against extremism, and we need a responsible and credible right-wing candidate for the 2017 presidential election. Only then will be able to deliver a better deal for the people of France.
Aymeric Chauprade is president of “Les Français Libres” and a member of the European Parliament.