May 8, 2017

Marine Le Pen's brand of populism is far from dead

Claude Paris / AP

With Emmanuel Macron's resounding victory in yesterday's French presidential election, it's easy to craft a narrative trumpeting the resilience of the grand European experiment and the death of European populism. But to do so would ignore a fundamental truth: Marine Le Pen might have lost, but her performance — capturing more than a third of the French electorate — was another step toward the normalization of far-right politics across both the continent and the West at large.

Here to stay: University of Georgia professor Cas Mudde, who has authored a number of works on populism and extremism in Europe, told Axios that the far right's well-established place in French politics, having played a part for the last 40 years, means Macron's presidency will only affect the National Front in the short-term:

"Macron is just a phase. If he does well, the slow but steady rise of the National Front will be stopped, for a while. If he does badly, it will increase a bit sharper."

Not a surprise: In her defeat, Le Pen nearly doubled the vote tally of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2002's presidential runoff — the National Front's only prior appearance in the presidential election's second round — and she did so in a way that felt not only normal but expected. When Jean-Marie advanced to the runoff, France reacted with an almost visceral shock that saw more than a million people take to the streets. This time, Marine's success in the first round had been a constant expectation in polls stretching back to 2013. Though she failed to enter the Élysée, Marine's greatest victory is the transformation of the National Front into a mainstream force in French politics.

The next test: June's parliamentary elections will set the tone for the future of the National Front, which Le Pen has vowed will see a "deep transformation" into a "new political force," maybe even with a new name. Right now, polls have the party winning somewhere around 15 to 25 seats in the National Assembly — up from its current two. If the National Front does not have a strong result, Mudde believes that Le Pen "will become more criticized within the party, but she is still too strong to be replaced."

Farther ahead: If the pressure does mount on Le Pen, there's buzz that her replacement could be her 27-year-old niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who was elected as an MP in 2012. Marion is even more hardline than her aunt, representing a move back toward the party's traditional far-right on religious and social issues. Steve Bannon called her a "rising star" and Sarah Palin gushingly named her a reminder of Joan of Arc, so perhaps Marion will attempt to lead the National Front to a coronation in 2022.

Go deeper

Cruise ship evacuations: More Americans test positive for coronavirus

A bus carrying American citizens from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship arrives at the U.S. government-chartered aircraft that is taking them back to the United States while authorities wear protective suits look on at Haneda airport in Tokyo on Monday. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Another 14 passengers tested positive for the novel coronavirus during their evacuation from the Diamond Princess cruise ship before being flown in a "specialist containment" area of the plane to the United States, per a Trump administration statement early Monday.

Details: Over 40 Americans who had been on the ship had previously been confirmed as infected and will remain in Japanese hospitals for treatment, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "Face the Nation" Sunday. The rest were evacuated, and these latest cases were among them. All evacuees will undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival later Monday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

GM to exit Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

GM's Holden brand is popular among racing fans down under, and it's been a regular fixture at events like the Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar Race in Australia. Photo: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

General Motors is retiring its Holden brand from sales in Australia and New Zealand and winding down operations in the two countries and Thailand by 2021, the company confirmed in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The Holden brand has been in Australia and New Zealand for 160 years, per a GM statement issued in Australia. It is beloved by many motor racing fans down under. Holden produced Australia's first wholly locally made car in 1948.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

In photos: Deadly Storm Dennis lashes U.K., Ireland and western France

A family is rescued from a property in Nantgarw, Wales, on Sunday. The storm comes a week after the U.K. was battered by storm Ciara, which killed two people, per the BBC. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Storm Dennis continued to pummel parts of England, Wales and Ireland over Sunday night with heavy rain after battering Northern Ireland and Scotland, per the official British weather agency the Met Office.

Why it matters: It's the second-strongest nontropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean, with its hurricane-force winds and heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across the U.K., the Washington Post notes. Police in Wales confirmed Sunday they found the body of a man who fell into a river as the storm lashed Ystradgynlais.

See photosArrow4 hours ago - World