Destinations Magazine

Phantom Menace

By Stizzard
Phantom menace

NEAT mounds of freshly harvested sugar beets await collection on the plains of Picardy. This flat land, around the northern town of Saint-Quentin, is quiet farming country. No refugees are camped out anywhere in sight. No immigrants wrapped in blankets tread the roads. Yet when Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front, takes to the stage for a campaign rally at the town’s municipal theatre, she deplores the “gigantic migratory wave” that is on its way—and the audience erupts with applause.

Europe’s greatest refugee influx in modern history has strengthened right-wing anti-immigration parties from Poland to Switzerland. But the biggest European country in which such a party is close to securing a chunk of electoral power is France. Polls now make Ms Le Pen the favorite to win the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie at two-round elections on December 6th and 13th. Home to nearly 6m people, it covers not only Picardy, the city of Lille, and the mining basin to its south, but also the refugee camp at the port of Calais.

For the National Front (FN), conquering the north of France would mark its biggest victory…

The Economist: Europe

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