France: A New Movement Forms

After conservative victories in Italy and England, are the French finally finding their way to a new and healthy alternative to both Jean-Marie Le Pen and Nicolas Sarkozy?

The websites are talking about a new movement that has been formed the Nouvelle Droite Populaire (NDP), composed of defectors from Le Pen's Front National, members of Bruno Mégret's MNR (National Republican Movement), and other nationalist, sovereignist and regionalist groups, parties and individuals. This is not a political party but an assembly of like-minded individuals who espouse a policy of both decentralization, i.e., regionalism, and nationalism. After an initial meeting on March 29 to lay the groundwork, a second meeting on April 27 adopted the official name which translates as New Popular Right. Their website outlines the group's goals:

This structure is not a political party and has no intention of aggravating existing divisions. It is, on the contrary, an organization for the assembly and mobilization of energies that will work towards the reformation of the national, regional and French-identity based Right. It is possible to belong to the movement without giving up one's membership in a political party or another existing organization.

The fundamental principles of the steering committees are as follows:

1 - Refusal of immigration and Islamization
2 - Defense of regional, national and European identities
3 - Application of national and European preferences
4 - Rehabilitation of family values and fundamental principles of our civilization
5 - Freeing of individual, political and economic energies
6 - Construction of a political, independent and powerful Europe, faithful to its Hellenic and Christian roots

The steering committees for the New Popular Right will hold a national constitutive convention in Paris on June 1 for the purpose of defining its first campaign themes and implementing the structures of this vital new federation.

Some expression were difficult to render into English, e.g., "identitaire" and "force de rassemblement" which I translated as "French-identity based" and "vital new federation" respectively. Note that "identitaire" can also relate to regional feelings of identity, such as Breton or Alsatian identities.
The above principles are still too vague to be considered as a strong sign of the rebirth of French patriotic nationalism and regionalism, but this is the first real attempt to bring together those who have been disappointed by Le Pen, betrayed by Sarkozy or just left out of the political debate because the only options open to them were unsatisfactory for whatever reason. Here is a statement from Jean-François Touzé, coordinator of the project:

From reading the innumerable commentaries triggered by the announcement of the creation of the Nouvelle Droite Populaire, from the number of requests for contacts (several hundred in one month), from the growing interest on the part of the media for our effort, it is obvious that what we are setting into motion is fulfilling an immense need, not only among those who are working or who have worked in the organizations of the national Right, but also among a great number of our compatriots as exasperated by the impotence of Sarkozy's regime as by the contradictions and suicidal acts of the Front National.
We said it as early as last June: for those who voted for Nicolas Sarkozy, the moment of truth after so many unfulfilled promises would not be long in coming. But we knew also that this disappointment could not, in any case, lead these voters back - even less lead them towards - the Front National when the FN gave them no sign acknowledging that the message of the need for a complete reexamination of structures, methods and strategies of the Right, that is a genuine modernization, had been understood.
This reexamination did not take place. The Front today is behind us.

Other comments at the website also point to the role played by the Front National in the failure of the Right to achieve anything close to success in the recent elections. Bruno Mégret, who defected from the FN in 1998 to form the MNR, is among the founders of the new NDP. He attempted to reconcile temporarily with Le Pen during the presidential election of 2007, but was ignored by both Jean-Marie and his daughter Marine Le Pen. Mégret's collaborator, Florence Mazole, writes:

As the national party headquarters of the MNR has observed, the strategy of a union with the FN did not meet our expectations despite the advantages that were drawn in terms of media coverage and support from partisans of the national Right. During the presidential election, despite the impartial support we gave to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the MNR was not able to wage a campaign [a reminder that Le Pen prevented Mégret from actively campaigning]. During the legislative elections, no agreement was reached and Le Pen and his daughter even placed their own candidate in opposition to Bruno Mégret. They did the same during the municipal elections. No ballot loyal to the union of our parties was ever constituted. (...) A few days before the voting, Le Pen appeared on the evening news and devoted half of his time to attacking Bruno Mégret. As for his daughter, she has stated that she wants the death of the MNR and never ceases to blame its president.

Marine Le Pen has always held Mégret, and his defection from the party, as responsible for the failures of the FN. News reports during the presidential campaign indicated that she was behind the decision to silence Mégret.