Every day, we hear about the impact that Donald Trump’s election has had on the United States. But what about the rest of the world? How are other nations responding to Trump’s unexpected victory?
Many international political forces are responding to Trump’s election with fear and criticism. These negative voices are not completely representative of global sentiment. There are those that are buoyed by the results of the election. In France, the right-wing National Front is ecstatic. Marine Le Pen, the National Front’s leader, may be poised to take the French Presidency in April. In a piece written for Business Insider, Barbara Tasch states,
Some 33% of French people think that opening their country’s economy to foreign companies and the international market is a threat. In the US, where Donald Trump, whose protectionism and “America first” policy are largely thought to have helped him win the election, 29% of the population saw a similar threat from globalisation. Another question shows the French have a similar yet “worse” outlook than the Americans. Some 67% of French people think their country is in decline. This has historically benefited far-right and nationalistic parties. In the US, 60% of the population thought their country was in decline.
Le Pen is running on a populist, anti-globalization platform. The “Brexit” vote along with President Trump’s election has raised hopes of a populist uprising which dramatically changes French politics.
Currently, France is facing many of the same issues that other European countries are dealing with, including rapid expansion, a slowing economy, massive immigration, and Islamic terrorism. Many French citizens are dissatisfied with the current government’s inability to adequately address these problems. In a piece written for Foreign Policy, Robert Zaretsky explains,
The waxing of supranational institutions, the waning of the national economy, the appearance of new immigrant communities, the disappearance of old industries and jobs: All of these are the tributaries spilling into the brackish bog called Frexit. As with Brexit, Frexit is fundamentally a crisis of national identity. The inability of both conservative and socialist governments to redress the growing social and economic fissures in French society, and to reinvent the republican model for the 21st century, has encouraged the retreat to nativism and nationalism.
If Marine Le Pen is elected, the chances of a “Frexit” occurring will increase exponentially. She has already stated that she wants France to opt out of the Euro. If elected, she will hold a popular referendum that will determine whether or not France will remain a member of the EU.
As one of the founding members of the EU, France’s withdrawal could strike a huge blow against the international organization. The EU will be losing one of its foundational members.
It is not difficult to imagine why France might decide to vie for renewed independence. Similar to Britain, French citizens seem to have grown weary of allowing bureaucrats from other countries to dictate their policy regarding the economy, immigration, and military. The French want to make their own decisions and forge their own destiny.
The French want a national identity. This desire is something that most Americans can understand. As with Brexit, France’s possible departure from the EU may cause some initial pain. In the end, however, it could open a positive new chapter for France — and the countries that follow.