Should Chirac debate Jean Marie Le Pen?

Soon, French PResident Jacques Chirac will face Jean-Marie Le Pen, France’s near-Nazi candidate, in the next PResidential election. Le Pen finished ahead of Lionel Jospin, the Prime Minister, in the runoff, earning the right to duke it out in the final round.

This has caused much consternation, as Le Pen is not an agreeable or likeable fellow. Chirac has announced that he will not debate Le Pen.

I feel this is a grave mistake:

  1. The reason Le Pen got this far, IMHO, was that neither Chirac nor Jospin would debate him in any substantive way. Basically every issue Le Pen holds dear - immigration, anti-EU sentiments, racism, crime, etc. - was dismissed as being unworthy of the attention of the two big candidates, at least in terms of directly rebutting Le Pen. I think that basically validates Le Pen and gives him room to say anything he wants.

  2. The effect of Chiran’s and Jospin’s refusal to debate Le Pen, as well as their own shortcomings, means Le Pen is the only major candidate discussing some issues that are important to people. If he’s the only candidate saying he’s worried about France’s crime problems, people who are afraid of crime might feel inclined to vote for him, especially if the other candidates are dismissing it as unimportant. Le Pen might be full of it, but if he’s the only one even talking about it, well, that’s worth votes.

  3. History has shown that a clear and unambinguous platform will often defeat a candidate with no distinctive platform at all. Le Pen has a clear and unambinguous platform, even if a lot of it is basically a load of crap. Chirac and Jospin don’t, by comparison, have anything to say that distinguishes themselves from one another on a macro level, that the average voter can sink her teeth into. The problem with Le Pen isn’t just that he’s a BAD alternative. It’s that he’s the ONLY alternative, even though he’s bad.

  4. Le Pen IS wrong about this stuff. Debate him, for God’s sake. If you do your homework you could wipe the floor with him.


Chirac should debate Le Pen, and roundly make Le Pen look like the boorish idiot that he is.

Never refuse an opportunity to embarass a conservative, I say. :wink:

Don’t debate him. Chirac, by all accounts, is expected to win handily, and all debating Le Pen would do would be to give Le Pen another forum to express his views, and it means that Chirac might slip up and say or do something that would discourage people from voting for him.

Of course they should debate. Avoiding a debate makes Chirac look weak and scared. Is he afraid he’s going to get his ass handed to him?

If there are only two candidates and one refuses to debate it looks like ducking.

I agree with the OP, with one exception. If Le Pen is a “near- Nazi,” the Nazis were a helluva lot less violent than what I learned in school. When Le Pen kills off Chirac and all of his closest aides, I stand corrected. Also, Le Pen would have to kill off any “allies” who become incovenient. I have not heard of anything comparable to the Night of the Long Knives. Hitler was not subtle about throwing his weight around.

I admittedly do not know a great deal about Le Pen, but the fact that the liberals in Europe are frothing at the mouth about him tells me that he can’t be half bad.

Since Europe is so far leftist, I have to wonder exactly where a “far right” politician would fall relative to our American standards of Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative.

Also, I hear he’s being slammed for his anti-illegal immigration views. Being that much of the anti-Semitism in France today is pushed by Muslim immigrants, you would think that he would be doing the Jewish population a favor by restricting immigration.

Yes, Chirac should certainly debate Le Pen. After all, Chirac and his supporters claim to have both Goodness and Reason on their side. Why not prove it?

I think if Chirac refuses to debate Le Pen, he will give the impression that he is afraid of Le Pen and/or afraid to debate issues like crime and immigration. That could cause Le Pen to get a few more votes.

Now why do I find that so tellingly unsurprising.

Of course it is usually the height of idiocy and ignorance to come to knee-jerk conclusions based on one’s home country frame of reference and ignorance of the local political situation.

Point one: Chirac is and always has been a conservative.(*)
Point two: Le Pen is a near-fascist who has dimissed the Holocaust as a ‘detial.’
Point three: His political history is one of outright bigotry and anti-immigrant, anti-everything hatred.

(*: one should note of course that the French right has always been largely statist, Le Pen himself is no different.)

Undoubtedly in the same cess-pool as other bigots, for any clear-headed thinkers.

Importing uninformed opinions gets one nowhere, although one rather suspects BS would not feel all that uncomfortable with Le Pen in the final analysis - laying aside the difference between economic liberalism in the anglo countries and the continent.

He’s been attacked for his rampant racism and general anti-immigrant views period. Legal or illegal hardly matters, rather whether they have the ‘right’ skin color and religion. Although, again, perhaps BS would not find such ideas quite so repugnant, now would he?

Else, it is rather the height of hypocrisy given long-term demographic trends.

If one was utterly ignorant of the situation one might think that, but Le Pen’s movement’s own deep-seated anti-semitism (in the proper sense of the word encompassing in a catholic fashion both Arabs and Jews) rather puts lie to the idea that French Jews would be very happy with Le Pen.

Otherwise, yes Chirac should debate him. The sclerotic French political establishment needs to engage the issues.

I agree with both these points. Yet, there are some exceptions

Mr Spider I’d say that the kind of off hand remarks you throw around about Le Pen doesn’t do any of us on the right side of the spectrum any favors, be it on my liberal end or as I would guess your conservative side. Let me clear this out a little;

If you did you would probably be a bit less caustic about his potential good for anything. The liberals are not alone in frothing at the mouth, anyone from far right conservatives (we have some of those as well) to the commies break out in hives when Le Pen is mentioned.

Although lamentably dogmatic your statement about Europes ‘leftism’ was once unfortunately true. Europe is everything but Leftist at the moment BTAS. We’re dealing with France, so lets stay in the land of wine and not jump around all over the continent, shall we? France is ruled under ‘Le Cohabitation’ a Conservative Gaullist President (Chirac) who is actually pretty much as conservative a conservative as they come (You’d like him, he’s the Bush of Europe) and a Social Democrat Government headed by PM Jospin, out of a US perspective more left you die and even a little left of what is European Socialist standard. Le Pen is not ‘far right’ he is extreme right. He goes off the scale on most political spectra. In American terms, he would be three steps right of Pat Buchanan and somewhere a step or two outside of David Duke.

A number of things come to mind to say about this statement but they are not for polite society and would be neither appropriate nor constructive. So I’ll just wear my side-blinders for a second and pretend like there could be a valid point in there somewhere. Problem is you see that even if there would be, this doesn’t fly since Monsieur Le Pen and his cohorts while leaning to the anti-Semitic side of things are a little less than cordially inclined towards the Jewish faith and the Jewish population. He got into a lot of trouble some years ago and even went to court for publicly stating that the Holocaust was just a parenthesis in history. I suspect the only favor he could do the Jewish electorate and anyone else for that matter would be to stay the hell out of office.

Yours respectfully


PS I agree with the OP Chirac could and should debate the ass off this silly twat DS

Um…Why did Le Pen have to go to court for stating his opinion that the Holocaust was a parenthesis in history? Surely people are allowed to express their opinions in that great egalitarian socialist country of France!

Is that the only thing you found to reply to no less than three posts rectifying your somewhat asinine remarks regarding one of the biggest outrages against democracy Europe has seen in 60 years?

But OK I’ll play…What you can and cannot say and do with anything that has to do with the Nazi years and the Holocaust is pretty heavily restricted in Europe. In 1991 he was found guilty the first time for similar statements and fined $ 180.000 in France. Since the remark mentioned in previous post was made in Munich, the Munich courts are currently deliberating over charges that could put him in jail for up to five years for trivializing the Holocaust.

Wise from previous errors we don’t take lightly to politicians and activists that propone intolerance and hatred in Europe, I hope we can keep it that way.

I am afraid Sparc old-man that our BS would be rather at home with Le Pen. Now insofar as this should be examined elsewhere, I have reopened this:

Otherwise, hopefully an intelligent examination of the French political situation may be had. I might add in re december’s thread on race/ethnic id that the French Republican mythology and non-recourse to tracking ethnic employment data etc. has led to festering issues. You might well consider the folly of pretending a problem has ceased before it has in fact ceased – as if BS is not enough an illustration.

From a European perspective, America does not have a Left/Right axis. Aside from the likes of racist, anti-immigrant homophobes like Pat Bunchanan, America has no real “Right.” On any non-American political axis both the Republicans and the Democrats would come down on the Left (freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom freedom freedom… all Left concepts on the global axis). In America, from a European POV, we have one anti-State party on the Left (the Republicans) and one Statist party on the Left (the Democrats).

In America we’ve created a false left-right axis based upon the party’s position on Statism. In truth the Conservatives in England, the Gualists in France and the CD in Germany are all farther to the right politically than the Republicans (except with things like the death penalty, which is an American abberation), but all Statist, which makes them falsely seem “liberal” to American eyes.

We have no equivelent to a man like Le Pen in the United States, aside from perhaps Buchanan, but even Buchanan or David Duke is moderated compared to the claptrap that Le Pen spouts.


Oh, sorry. I forgot to reply to the OP.

Should Chirac debate Le Pen?

Doesn’t matter. Chirac will win.The only reason Le Pen got this far was that the Left vote was split amongst 9 candidates. Remember, he beat Jospin by less than 1% of the vote. Enough Leftists will hold their 35-hour-a-week noses and vote for Chirac, and put him well over Le Pen. Le Pen will likely recieve the same number, more or less, of votes in the next round as he did this time. Chirac will win the Center, the Center-Right and whatever of the Left shows up to vote.

A lot of people are making a big deal about Le Pen’s showing, when its really no different than his take in the last election. Only change was that this time the Left was so fractured that they couldn’t muster a candidate to pull above him. Had there been seven, or perhaps even eight, candidates on the Left instead of nine, it would be Chirac - Jospin in the next round.

Chirac will win. Then he’ll dissolve the Assembly, and the Left will swamp the Right in the Parliamentary elections (just like, in total votes, they did in this first round of Presidential voting). The hoped-for end to Cohabitation will not come in this election.

Sparculees, Why do you think that Le Pen coming in second is a “threat to democracy in France”.
If anything, it’s a tribute to democracy that so many people could express support for a person with different ideas. BTW, the fact that a person can be jailed/ fined in Europe merely for EXPRESSING certain beliefs, demonstrates to the world just how fascist the leftist European governments are.

It seems that the leftist governments of Europe pretend to love “Democracy”, until that is, a sizable part of the population votes for someone who doesn’t toe the party line.

As far as you , Collounsbury, you’re one who would rather attack me than debate me. Your large vocabulary hardly covers up for the lack of substance in your posts. So you’re not satisfied with attacking me in Great Debate, you have to start a Pit thread. Very well. I’ve been there before, I’ll be there again.

There are a number of problems with your statements here.
Lets start with the self evident ones. A ‘leftist’ government cannot be fascist per se given that fascism belongs on the opposite side of the political spectrum. A sizable portion of the population did not vote for Le Pen if you don’t call 16% sizeable… that’s a problematic situation that I think we have dealt with pretty well in several other threads the last couple of days, so I’ll just let you find those and read them instead.

The governments in Europe are not homogenous. To bunch 46 national governments into one vat just wont do. For your information they range from vaguely autocratic to mostly fully democratic and on the political spectrum they come in all varieties and colors.
You seem to think that the democratic process has been sabotaged to stop Le Pen. That is wrong, it goes on. The French will go to the polls and choose between Chirac and Le Pen in the final round, hence I don’t understand where you fetch the statement ‘love democracy until…’ anyway.

The fact that European laws are generally pretty hard on Nazi propaganda is quite natural given that some 56 million people lost their lives over our folly in this area only some 60 years ago. I concede that there are some issues regarding freedom of speech that worry me as well, but in view of the past I think there is some special concern that lends argument to the idea.

Now to the more central part. Le Pen is a threat to democracy because he doesn’t play along with the rules of democracy. Since he is fundamentally convinced, (like unfortunately quite a few other less than gifted members of the species are) that difference in creed, origin and skin color gives us different rights in society. This goes against a fundamental basis of democracy namely that all humans are equal and of equal rights. There are many other things but I think that one single fact is enough. If he could he would make second-class citizens of some people and for instance not have them vote. Actually he’d prefer to repatriate them (take them back to were they might or not come from).

I don’t know why I bother with this but there you are. See you in the Pit.


Thanks for your response, but I have to question why you say Leftist regimes cannot be fascist, that only Right wing regimes can be fascist.

Those of you who think Le Pen is some sort of conservative reformer don’t read French and probably have no idea what the neo-fascist stands for. (I wouldn’t compare him to Hitler, but certainly to Mussolini or Franco). This is straight from Le Pen’s “Front National” site. It is his party’s current campaign platform. It includes Le Pen’s views from everything from the prohibition of mosque construction in France to the role of the theatre in a “patriotic” society…without all those tiresome dramas about social problems.

I’ll just go over some of his views on America, and the “Anglo-Saxon” (British, Americans, Australian, so on…)

<<Le monde anglo-saxon continue de nous supplanter, voire de nous humilier, bien que nous l’imitions toujours plus servilement.
The Anglo-Saxon world continues to supplant us, it wishes to humiliate us, as we slavishly imitate it.

<<La France marquera son intérêt pour les communautés d’origine française établies à l’extérieur du territoire national et qui, liées à elles par l’histoire et la civilisation, forment la francité : Wallonie, Suisse romande et val d’Aoste, Acadie, Québec, Louisiane… Elle soutiendra les efforts de ces derniers pour sortir de la zone d’influence anglo-saxonne

France shall establish it’s interests within the French origin communities abroad which, bound together by history and civilization, form the “Francite”. Wallonia (Francophone Belgium), Francophone Switzerland and the Val d’Aoste (Italy), Acadia (New Brunswick), Quebec, Louisiana…France will sustain efforts of these areas to leave the zone of Anglo Saxon influence.

<<Agissant seule ou en coopération avec ses voisins latins (Italie, Espagne, Portugal), la France entreprendra une politique d’ouverture culturelle, scientifique et économique en direction de l’Amérique du sud. L’effort mené en commun doit permettre à la France et à ses sœurs latines de devenir une alternative crédible pour une Amérique du sud qui doit cesser de naviguer entre le mirage nord-américain et le leurre cubain.
Acting alone or in cooperation with her Latin neighbors, France will launch a policy of cultural, scientific, and economic overture toward “South America” (used here to mean “Latin America”). The directed common effort should permit France and her Latin sisters to become a credible alternative for a Latin America that should cease to navigate between the North American mirage and the Cuban ruse.
>>Dans l’Océan Pacifique, notre pays se place systématiquement en position de faiblesse devant l’Australie ou la Nouvelle-Zélande qui tentent de nous évincer de nos territoires d’outre-mer, notamment de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, après notre abandon des Nouvelles-Hébrides, devenues Vanuatu, où les pasteurs protestants locaux d’origine anglo-saxonne s’activent à effacer tout ce qui, de près ou loin, est français.
Within the Pacific Ocean, our nation is systematically being placed in a position of weakness before Australia or New Zealand, which attempt to evict us of our overseas territories, most notably New Caledonia, after our abandonment of the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), where local Protestant pastors of Anglo-Saxon origin work to erase all, that from near or afar, is French.

I can cite about 20 tracts from his site that prove Le Pen is convinced that there is an Anglo-American conspiracy to rule the world and destroy Francite, and all that is Latin and Catholic. He would want his regime to launch the resistance to this.
And in truth, the current campaign site is a toned down version of Le Pen’s long standing views, which are really more extreme.

Le Pen’s people are a bit shifty. The English page of their site does not make any offending remarks about those nasty Americans and English. Reading that, you might think he really was a God fearing, conservative fighting liberal decadence, not a French Franco or Mussolini.

Do you know what “fascist” means? It isn’t a blanket epithet for any system you despise. It is a “right wing dictatorship” based Benito Mussolini’s regime. It advocates extreme nationalism, imperialism, and religious and ideological conformity with a very specific economic and social vision that is virulently anti-communist and equally anti-democratic. It also advocates a “syndical” system of private ownership of industry, with the workers subordinate to syndicates that promote conformity and patriotism among workers, in exchange for modest benefits. As a result, fascism attracts many people who fear communism and socialism, by promising ‘class harmony’.

Left Wing regimes can be dictatorships, they can be totalitarian, they can be absolutely rotten. But they are never fascist.