Why the Council of State Rejects RN Far-Right Return

Last Thursday, the highest administrative body in the country endorsed a circular from the Ministry of the Interior which qualified the National Rally as an “extreme right” party. The subject combines various issues frequently placed at the center of intellectual debate. Due to their particular voting method (and their lesser media appeal), the administrative organization of senatorial elections is not comparable to that of other elections. Proof of this is: the propaganda printed by the candidates, central for the legislative elections for example, is cruelly limited when it comes to the renewal of the upper house. In order to synthesize relevant information at the level of the various electoral districts, the department prefects are responsible for classifying the competing lists among six ideological denominations, including that of the “extreme right”.

In August, the Ministry of the Interior distributed a “nuancement” circular (which consists of defining how to classify statistical data on an election) confirming the referencing of the RN under the term “extreme right”. The party therefore contacted the Council of State to contest this decision. Let us first point out that by asking magistrates to rule on such a question, the National Rally has itself fueled a deleterious climate which consists of subordinating politics to the judiciary; it would have seemed preferable to challenge the government in the media. The party should also have endeavored to contest this qualifier with the provincial administrative authorities, the various prefects having been called upon to define its political affiliation.

The controversy is embarrassing in itself because it goes beyond the simple phenomenon of “judicialization of political life” regularly denounced. Originally, this collection of statistical information was not intended to define the ideological line to which the party would claim. This is simply to facilitate the production of electoral cards once the votes have been cast. In this case, the term extreme right would therefore refer more to a horizontal reality than an ideological one – it is undeniable that the RN elected officials sit on the very right of the hemicycles where they are invested. However, it turns out that Nicolas Dupont-Aignan had obtained the abandonment of this qualifier concerning him after a referral to this same body. Therefore, the process is embarrassing from a democratic point of view.

Indeed, to determine how to “attribute the nuances to the election candidates”, the department prefects are invited to carry out an “investigation” (behavior of the contenders, historical development, etc.). Friday on RMC and BFM TV, the president of Debout la France recalled having obtained from the Council of State that his party is no longer referenced under the political nuance of the extreme right. Symbol of the absurd nature of the situation: if he made the Council of State his moral guarantor with regard to his own political color, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan then admitted, embarrassed in the face of Apolline de Malherbe, that he did not did not grant the judicial institution the legitimacy to define the political affiliation of the National Rally.

These prevarications demonstrate that as much as possible the judicial power should extricate itself from the political domain. Even if Tocqueville praised the penalization of political acts in the United States because he saw it as a shield against parliamentary obstruction – let us admit that the American Congress is more efficient than the French Parliament – the confusion of these orders will always prove, in one way or another, deleterious. Indeed, the decision of the Council of State simply concerned the “political nuance of the RN and not its “political label”, the latter being “left to the free appreciation of the candidate” as specified in the original circular from the ministry of the Interior which had motivated the RN’s summary decision.

In short, while the media widely discussed following the verdict of the Council of State on Thursday September 21, the body itself never really claimed to define the ideological affiliation of the party to the flame. Although Libération, Mediapart and the Huffington Post prided themselves on being able to write, at the end of last week, that yes, “for the Council of State too, the National Rally is indeed “extreme right””, the subject does not shouldn’t be there. However, the increasingly significant confusion between politics and legality leads us to find it plausible that it is up to magistrates to define the ideological line of an opposition party (once again, the Council of State has simply confirmed that the elected RN sat to the right of the hemicycles, he did not judge his remarks in any way). From then on, a purely administrative decision was received as academic reasoning on the substance of the National Rally speech by part of the press. Why is no one shouting payback?

This article is originally published on lefigaro.fr


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