How Sarkozy boosted the Front National

“The debate over national identity engineered by Sarkozy’s UMP has seen Islamophobia reach a new pitch – at one point the party spokesperson compared the burka to a ‘Mickey Mouse mask’.

“Yet however shrill the scapegoating of Muslims, it has done nothing to obscure the government’s impotence in the face of serious social and economic problems. Moreover, the realisation that Sarkozy is not an enforcer but a rather insecure figure in thrall to wealth and celebrity, has strengthened the claims of Le Pen to be the real authority figure in French politics.

“Le Pen has therefore been able to pick up support from those disenchanted by Sarkozy, his credentials as an authoritarian alternative bolstered by the government’s legitimisation of the racism that dominated the FN campaign. At a time of economic crisis, with Islamophobia on the rise across Europe, the government has had to learn, like all its predecessors, that the far-right is strengthened, not isolated, when mainstream politicians pander to racism.”

Jim Wolfreys at Comment is Free, 24 March 2010