In the Deputy Editor’s Notebook | Far right, you say?

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Posted at 1:32 a.m.

Updated at 5:00 a.m.

Emmanuel Macron thought he had buried it, and yet the left-right divide is alive and well in France. It is even more polarized, and more extreme than it has been in a long time.

As proof, the European elections which confirmed the importance that parties located to the right of the right are gaining today.

At another time we were talking about marginal parties, evoking the need to contain them behind a “sanitary cordon”, they were so sulphurous.

But there you have it, the National Rally (Marine Le Pen) and the Reconquest party! (Éric Zemmour) collected almost 40% of the votes in the European elections.

Polls on the upcoming legislative elections in France show that it was neither a stroke of luck nor an accident, predicting a similar score for these two parties.

And the presidency of the G7 in Italy in recent days, assumed by a prime minister who is classified on the side of the radical right, Giorgia Meloni, confirms that we are no longer dealing with fringe parties.

As media, this must force us to think: how should we label these parties? By actually calling them “extreme right”? Or are we thus making a value judgment on these political groups?

Proof that the subject deserves attention: the use of the expression “extreme right” in the French media follows ideological divides.

Le Figaro doesn’t use it except when he has to, and again, he does it with quotation marks. Same thing for Christian Rioux at Duty and Mathieu Bock-Côté at Montreal Journal (which does not prevent all these fine people from using “extreme left” to tax those they criticize, but hey…).

The journalist from Point Charles Sapin does not use it in his excellent book Harvests of Anger: Nationalist Dynamics in Europe (published on July 10, this is a must-read).

While The New Obs do not hesitate to use it, and that Release covers his texts with expression, a way of showing the disdain he feels for this political fringe.

In short, there is no consensus on the expression. So what to do?

The question is all the more interesting because we cannot simply use the definition from a dictionary, or that of experts. Here again, it goes in all directions.

The extreme right can be used as an insult, as a synonym for fascism, or to designate a person who has the slightest doubt about immigration thresholds.

There are also 50 shades of right, even at the extreme: Marine Le Pen’s party has a national-populist tendency, while Giorgia Meloni’s is closer to national-conservatism, for example.

We must therefore attempt a definition that is as unifying, as neutral as possible, without any judgment.

What does the expression “extreme right” include? HAS The Press, we classify parties to the right of the traditional right. They are populist parties, in that they defend a people opposed to institutions and elites that they consider disconnected, even predatory. And these are protectionist and nationalist parties, in that they center their discourse on the nation as the pivot of political action. They thus come to the defense of a national community that they consider threatened, both by uncontrolled immigration and criminal abuse.

PHOTO GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE, REUTERS ARCHIVES

Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Italy, at the G7 summit on Saturday

So many boxes that tick, to varying degrees, the National Rally in France, Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia, the AfD in Germany and Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz in Hungary.

So is it wrong to write “extreme right”?

Not really, no.

It is not because the expression is co-opted that it becomes de facto toxic. And it is certainly not because commentators fear that the expression will harm a side that it should be banned.

If labels like fascism and Nazism refer to a painful historical period, by conveying totalitarian, militarist and imperialist positions, the “extreme right” is an older concept, which has gone through history by designating realities that are certainly different in 200 years old, but nonetheless very real. In the same way, the left today is not that of 1789, and we still resort to the label.

In a more practical way, there are no words with a clearer and more consensual meaning to group these parties to the right of the right. “Hard right”, “radical right”, “nationalist right” can be used, but none of these expressions can on its own replace “extreme right” since the interpretation we make of it can vary from one person to the next. the other (is it more to the right to be radical or to be extreme?).

And therefore, to say that the National Rally and Reconquest! are far-right, it is simply classifying them on a proven ideological continuum. This is not to demonize them, judge them or point fingers at them, which would amount to looking down on four out of ten French people.

And therefore, to The Press ?

We stay away from “fascism”, “neo-fascism” and “post-fascism”, except when they are used by interviewees, press agencies or when they apply to groups which clearly express a totalitarian and xenophobic inclination .

We also avoid qualifiers like “xenophobic” and “racist”, which are used to judge rather than describe. We will therefore only use them in opinion texts, or to qualify groups or people who express the superiority of a race or the assumed hatred of foreigners.

But we do indeed use the extreme right in our texts, like press agencies and major international media (far right).

The expression today brings together groups which are simply to the right of the right, therefore at the end of the ideological spectrum mainstreamwhere we find the majority of the electorate.

We can also use “radical right” and “hard right” as synonyms, since they clearly designate this right advocating more radical, or harder, positions than the classic right on several issues, and in a completely assumed manner. And this, regardless of whether these groups claim to be far right, or whether they reject the expression for political and strategic reasons.

Write to François Cardinal

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