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  May 6, 2017

French Presidential Elections: Choice of Lesser Evil Between a White Supremacist or Ultra Neoliberalist


Yasser Louati, says French voters face an impossible choice of an openly racist candidate Le Pen and uber neoliberal, former investment banker that will implement policies that will fuel, ignite and spark even more competitive hatred among French
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biography

Yasser Louati is French human rights and civil liberties activist and researcher. He has been until now the spokesperson for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and head of its international relations desk. He is currently leading a coalition effort against the current state of emergency in France, PREVENT in the UK and skyrocketing islamophobia throughout Europe.


transcript

SHARMINI PERIES: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. On Sunday French voters will be choosing between the Neo-Liberal centrist, Emmanuel Macron and a far right candidate Marie Le Pen. The Telegraph poll tracker currently shows Macron with a 21 point lead, although polls have been wrong before. The runoff has proven to be among the divisive elections in recent memory. Even former US President Barack Obama has weighed in urging French voters to support Macron, a man he said he admires.

Our next guest released his own video also urging voters to consider voting for Macron, but not as a candidate that he admires, but rather as lesser of two evils. The French Human Rights Advocate describes what he calls the two evils on offer for French public and what he believes needs to be done for a better future. Well, joining us today is Yasser Louati. Yasser is French Human Rights and Civil Liberties Advocate. His most recent article in Medium, is titled Marie Le Pen or Emmanuel Macron? Hitler or Uber?

Thanks for joining us, Yasser.

YASSER LOUATI: Thank you for having me.

SHARMINI PERIES: So Yasser, so let's start off with this provocative title you've given your article and the video you produced. Hitler or Uber? Can you explain that?

YASSER LOUATI: Again, the rise of fascism in France was actually a good thing for the Neo-Liberals here in this country in order to put the country between two impossible choices. White supremacy, or on the other hand ultra-liberalism where corporate money decides on the outcomes of French policies. That's why we are definitely not facing choices of reasons.

The only candidate that actually had socioeconomic policies in favor of the masses and the working class were disqualified from the first round. For the socialist party, which pretends to be on the left, a bit like a democrat in the U.S. For once, there are the candidate named Benoit Hamon, who came forward with a left wing program, a progressive program, stood against racism, for the rights of the Palestinians and what happened even though he won the left-wing primary's, he was literally boycotted by his own party and the whole leadership of the socialist party joined his opponent Emmanuel Macron and boycott just like Bernie Sanders in the US or Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K.

So right now French people are asked to choose between Marine Le Pen, who is an openly racist candidate, who does not believe in equality between citizen who is pushing forward, but is actually the supremacy of whites and Christians in France and on the other hand, a person who comes to you as this young, former, investment banker who tries to appeal to minorities by telling them, "Hey buddy racism is evil" but at the same time promises them to implement a new liberal agenda that would actually fuel and ignite and spark even more hatred between citizens by putting them into more competition. Hence the two evils, Hitler on the one hand because Marine Le Pen is a direct here of the far-right in France, and Emmanuel Macron, who only wants to have a country of start-up companies and of course, who wants to run France as if it were a company.

SHARMINI PERIES: Right and add to the Neo-Liberal component you're talking about, Barack Obama former President of the United States, released a video of his own urging people to vote for Emmanuel Macron, this is what he had to say

BARRACK OBAMA: I have admired the campaign that Emmanuel Macron has run. He has stood up for liberal values, he put forward a vision for the important role that France plays in Europe and around the world and he is committed to a better future for the French people. He appeals to people's hopes and not their fears and I enjoyed speaking to Emmanuel recently to hear about his independent movement and his vision for the future of France.

SHARMINI PERIES: So, Yasser despite you encouraging people to choose Macron over Le Pen, you have quite a different take on the matter than say, Barack Obama. Specify for us this distinction you've made between choosing Macron more specifically, I mean he is the new Liberal candidate ... It is a choice of the lesser evil but at the same time, you have a lot of apprehensions about supporting him.

YASSER LOUATI: Emmanuel Macron is no good news either, the only difference between him and and Marine Le Pen, is that Marine Le Pen is immediate fire. She will ignite a racial war in France. Emmanuel Macron is actually a social war of classes who are in favor of the big banks and the big business owners.

So the immediate urgency is to keep Marine Le Pen from accessing to power, just for one thing, it does not mean racist and identity politics will disappear because during the first round, the three openly racist candidates; Marine Le Pen, Francois Fillon and Dupont-Aignan collectively got 46% of the votes during the first round. So our only concern right now is blocking her from becoming president. But the very next step is going to make the country ungovernable for Emmanuel Macron by acting on two fronts. We have the upcoming parliamentary elections in June, which means pushing people to register as independent candidates. Just register, become a candidate, we'll see later about the logistics and of course mobilizing from the grass-roots up in order to make the social movement more coordinated and much more efficient than when it was last spring when it rose against the labor reform. It's only a question of priorities. I'm against both candidates because they are disastrous for the country.

SHARMINI PERIES: And your further argue that governments of the past including the Socialist party have already been implementing far-right anti-Muslim policies for years and have created an apparatus of a fascist state in France. Most people here this of a socialist part as a leftist party, but in France that's not the case, but more than that, can you explain what you mean by previous governments having had fascist policies already?

YASSER LOUATI: If you look back in the 1980's Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine Le Pen's father was actively a very margin, he was on the extreme right with one or two percent during the elections. But it turned out during the 80's and 90's many people from the mainstream left-wing and right-wing party's actually agreed with him as a matter of fact, even had a left-wing socialist prime minister saying that Jean-Marie Le Pen is raising the right questions on immigration and then of course you see the laws being implemented, both from the right and the left ministering party's ... the exclusion of Muslim girls from the schools when they wear a headscarf, the constant singling-out and demonizing of Muslims by the last administration with the left-wing government under Francois Hollande and Manuel Valls, when you have a prime minister speaking of islamofascisim and who pretends to be a left-wing minister, when you have the minister for women's rights, Laurence Rossignol comparing quotes, Muslim women who wear the headscarf were comparable to American Negro's who were in favor of slavery and the list goes on.

So the left itself has sold out to the far-right because the only difference between the two, is that the far-right uses openly blatant racist vocabulary, where as the left and mainstream right-wing party, maybe less of the right, use what we call dog-whistle. They use specific key words but actually express the same hatred. Another problem in the early 2000's with Nicolas Sarkozy, when he came to power he stole all of the ideas from the far-right and put them under what he called the unapologetic-right. It's a bit like your Republican party today, endorsing racist ideas but calling that freedom of speech or protecting culture, et cetera.

So the rise of Marine Le Pen and her appearance today at the second round of the election is only a confirmation that the result we call the libanisation of the minds, meaning that racist ideas are not a far-right monopoly but actually shared by the whole political spectrum in France.

SHARMINI PERIES: Yasser, give us a sense of who won the debate the other night and I understand Macron was declared the winner by several media outlets. What were your thoughts?

YASSER LOUATI: It depends what you you call a winner when you have two lousy candidates. One of them speaks a bit better French and understands and remains a bit more polite on the set, yes, you can [inaudible 00:09:35] a winner. But according to the French ministry media, this was or that was the worst presidential debate ever in French history.

Marine Le Pen was highly aggressive and throwing fake news on the one hand and trying to provoke Emmanuel Macron. Emmanuel Macron on the other showed a lot more control over his program when it came to economic policies. But to him the rational that what's best for big corporations is good for France. That's not what we want. We have 3.5 million people who don't even have decent housing, we have the cost of discrimination in France is over 150 billion Euros a year and we have a highly fragmented society. So, actually I had to give up. It was such an annoying debate, but I had to watch it because I had to report it to other reporters.

But we haven't seen any clear ideological win on either side, we just saw the far right just acting like ... she tried to copy or to emulate Donald Trump by being highly aggressive and provoking the other candidate and actually nobody is a winner. Maybe Emmanuel Macron maintained a sense of control, but what's going to happen for the next five years? The only indication is that the next administration will not work on behalf of the working-class or the masses, they will work on behalf of big banks and then locking the working-class in what I call the digital proletarian, by selling their laborers to big corporations online and calling it a day.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right Yasser, we'll be watching closely on Sunday and thank you so much for joining us today.

YASSER LOUATI: Thank you for having me.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

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