Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right Rassemblement National, and French President Emmanuel Macron (Reuters/File)

Is France’s Far Right the “New Normal”?

I joined a panel on Virgin Media TV’s The Tonight Show on Monday to analyze the first-round outcome of France’s elections for the National Assembly, with the far-right Rassemblement National leading with 33% of the vote.

The other panellists are Neasa Hourigan, a member of the Irish Parliament, and Sean Defoe, the Political Correspondent of Bauer Media. The host is Ciara Doherty, and the segment is introduced through an interview with Rosie Birchard of Deutsche Welle.

Watch from 22:41

We discuss if the RN can be contained by the other two major blocs, the left-wing Front Populair (28%) and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance (21%).

Macron has to go to the Front Populair as the junior partner. You might avert getting Le Pen in, but what deals do you cut with the left?

We examine how the RN is trying to gain power by shedding its Neo-Nazi past and hardline rhetoric through “dédiabolisation” — a tactic identified by Paul Mazet in EA more than year ago — and promising economic salvation for those suffering from France’s de-industrialization.

Their candidate for Prime Minister, Jordan Bardella, looks good on TV. They say, “We’re not the party of the past. We’re not neo-Nazis. (We still don’t like those immigrants.) You can trust us in power.”

And if the RN does gain a Parliamentary majority, or the largest share of the Assembly’s seats, we examine the consequences for France and the European Union.