French Regional Elections: The Rise of the Fringe
Voters dealt a strong blow to mainstream political parties in two rounds of France’s regional elections on June 20 and 27. While the president’s center-left party and Marine le Pen’s right-wing party collapsed in popularity, relatively unknown figures on the right and the left emerged victorious. The elections also saw one of the lowest voter turnouts ever. Though the right and left differ greatly, both have succeeded for the same reason: A wave of discontent with established politicians is sweeping the country.
Rejection of the Establishment
The first round of elections on June 20 was a disaster for President Emmanuel Macron’s party, La république en marche. The center-left party won none of France’s 12 regions nor any of its overseas territories. According to exit polls, the president’s candidates received only 10.9 percent of the national vote. Political commentators were quick to point out that this was one of the worst performances for a governing party. Nadine Marano, a member of European Parliament and political figure in France, called the results “a true slap” in the face for the established party, alluding to how President Macron was slapped by an onlooker at one of his political appearances earlier in June. The second round of elections on June 27 produced similar results.
If the elections were a disaster for Macron, they were not much better for Marine Le Pen’s party, Rassemblement Nationale (National Rally). Though seen as a far-right party, it may now be losing popularity after failing to get into government or make major changes in the country. In the first round, National Rally won only one region, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, in southeast France. It received only 19 percent of the national vote, slightly more than the president’s party but much less than expected. In the second round, Le Pen’s candidate lost his hold on the region.
The participation rate itself was another indicator that many French either see the election as irrelevant to their concerns or are simply frustrated with the current political system. In the first round, abstention hit a record 66.7 percent. This is 16 points higher than the previous regional election, which was held six years ago. Neither could anyone blame coronavirus, as only 17 percent of voters cited it as a cause of their refusal to vote, according to an ifop poll. Germany, the Netherlands and Italy experienced normal levels of turnout for their regional elections held around the same times. The second round of elections was virtually identical.
This year, the French have voted not merely for new politicians but for an entirely new system.
Rise of the Fringe
Not all parties fared so badly. One of the surprise victors was Xavier Bertrand. A prominent social conservative who has advocated for tougher punishments on terrorism and opposed same-sex marriage, he won 41 percent of his region, Hauts de France, during the first round of elections. Bertrand is seen as a contender for the 2022 presidential election and is likely the biggest challenger to Macron at the moment. He served in the government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, having been affiliated with Les républicains (The Republicans), a conservative party. Bertrand’s popularity held during the second round, as did that of his alliance of right-leaning parties in general.
Another major winner of both rounds was the radical left. Three candidates listed themselves together: ecologist Julien Bayou of the Green party, Clementine Autain of the French Communist Party and France Unbowed (founded by Jean-Luc Melanchon), and Audrey Pulvar of the Socialist Party, known for her radical views on race. This alliance of the radical left came in second after the right-wing alliance led by Bertrand. It indicates that many French see the current government as unable or unwilling to go far enough in changing the country. French news site Valeurs Actuelles summarized the implications of this radical union when it wrote that “when the left and extreme left fuse, the republic fissures.” Pointing to the extreme positions these parties take on the economy, they declared: “The republican left is dead, long live the anti-republican left!”
Many also see this election as an indicator of what will occur in the 2022 presidential election.
What is happening in France is similar to recent events in Germany, where voters rejected Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and voted for the Greens in record numbers. France and Germany, which have a strong influence on Europe as a whole, are searching for a different kind of leadership. Some of these views are radical-leftist visions. Others are based on taking a stronger stance on terrorism and defending what are viewed as European values.
The Trumpet frequently points to these events because Bible prophecy says Europe will indeed get a new style of leadership—one which will briefly unify it and produce a superpower.
In his booklet A Strong German Leader Is Imminent, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry notes that Europe is currently lacking strong, determined leaders. This is the case with Germany more than ever before. It is also true of other European nations, such as France. But the Bible says 10 king-like leaders will govern Europe in our day.
Revelation 17:3 describes a beast with “ten horns.” Verse 12 explains that these horns symbolize 10 kings, meaning nations or groups of nations that will rise in Europe (read more about this in our free booklet Daniel Unlocks Revelation).
Who will rule this rising superpower? Daniel 8:23 describes a strongman who will lead these 10 European nations. His style of leadership will be “fierce”—unlike anything seen in Europe today. And Daniel 11:21 shows that he will obtain power by “flatteries.”
Notice how this man is characterized. He has a “fierce countenance,” meaning he’s mighty, powerful and cruel. He has an “understanding [of] dark sentences.” As Clarke’s Commentary says, he’s “very learned and skillful in all things relating to government and its intrigues”—a skilled politician. He inherits the throne of Europe “peaceably,” obtaining his kingdom by “flatteries.” He’s crafty and sly, with an engaging, attractive personality. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary says “the nation shall not, by a public act, confer the kingdom on him, but he shall obtain it by artifice, ‘flattering.’” In other words, a deceived public, or a group of European leaders, likely invites this man into power.
In France, thirst for change is growing. The Bible warns that this desire will spread throughout Europe and open the door to a strong, undemocratic “king”—a leader who will plunge Europe, and the world, into the worst time of war and suffering ever seen.
You need to know how this will happen, and who likely will be this “fierce” king. You can find out by requesting or downloading a free copy of our booklet A Strong German Leader Is Imminent.