France may follow America’s lead by electing National Front leader Marine Le Pen as its next president because they have lost interest in whether politicians tell the truth, the country’s leading philosopher has said.
Recent polls suggest Mrs Le Pen will win next spring’s first round of presidential elections, though she is then likely to be beaten by mainstream centre-right candidate Alain Juppé.
But Bernard-Henri Levy, who was once hailed in France as its greatest living public intellectual, said the upcoming election could be yet another case of the polls getting it wrong.
“If Trump is possible, then everything is possible,” Mr Levy told the Telegraph. “Nothing, from now on, is unimaginable.
“As for Le Pen it is unlikely that she wins but it is possible, and that is partly because the people have lost interest in policy, instead focusing on personality.”
“The people listen less and less to policy and they even seem less concerned about whether the candidates are telling the truth or not.”
He added: “They are more interested in the performance, in the theatrical quality of what is said than whether it is true. And as we know, a fascist can put on a very successful performance.”
Mr Levy said he believed America’s election of Donald Trump was triggered by a wave of populism that began in Europe with the rise of the National Front.
“You might say that those were the three main coups in this global theatre of populism – the rise of Le Pen, the reign of Silvio Berlusconi, who is a kind of European Trump, and the Brexit.”
He said it was also likely that former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also standing in the primaries, would “hijack” the policies of Mrs Le Pen in a bid to win back voters who abandoned mainstream parties.
“Nicolas Sarkozy may attempt to adapt his policies so they are similar to Le Pen’s – or simply hijack them – but the difference is that he does not believe in them,” said Mr Levy.
“However, if that works, he will have a chance against the National Front. And, more importantly, he will be able to stand in their way.”
As for Alain Juppé being widely expected to win France’s primaries, Mr Levy had another warning. “The polls may say he is ahead but I would warn the media not to follow the polls again,” he said.
“The polls are getting it wrong. They got it wrong in England and again in the US, so they may have got it wrong with Juppé also.”