One of the major tools used by the Russian Federation to advance its positions in Europe is the exploitation of the right-wing parties potential. In particular, it is obvious that Russia through its ties with the National Front (France) tends to affect internal and external policies of France on all levels Â– local (through municipal election), parliamentary (through parliamentary election) and presidential (through preparation to the upcoming 2017 Presidential election in France).
In the issue of the 2007 parliamentary election National Front gained no seats, whereas in 2012 they obtained two seats and according to Consumer Science and Analytics they are to obtain 14-24 seats as a result of 2017 election and in accordance with the Opinion Way survey National Front will get 58-64 seats in the Parliament. During 2008 municipal election only 0,63 per cent of voters gave their votes to the National Front whilst in 2014 this index raised to 6,75 per cent. According to the preliminary data provided by different sources Marine Le Pen would gain 24-30 per cent during next Presidential elections in 2017. Therefore we can conclude that the popularity of the National Front party has abruptly grown up since 2014.
Such a sudden success of the National Front coincided in time with the emergence of information concerning cash transfer amounting to 9-11 million euros on the partyÂ’s account by the Russian Federation via the First Russian-Czech Bank in 2014, which gives an overt hint that these events are correlated. Today there is information revealed about negotiation between National Front and Russia about one more loan summing up to 24-27 million euros. The essential fact in this situation is that French legislation allows financing national parties not only from the French banks but also from those registered in the EU which provided Russia wiggle room.
It is noteworthy that support of the National Front is an important leverage for Russia over EU policy. After 2014 election NF has become a political force with the largest representation in the European Parliament among all right-wing parties. It allows us to draw a conclusion that Russia apparently relies on the right parties in the countries possessing the largest deal of the seats in the European Parliament which hints us by means of which countries Russia will try to lobby its interests. It is also important to understand that many EU entities use the unanimity principle in decision-making process, so even one EU member is capable of vetoing the decision and it once more casts the light on the RussiaÂ’s active promotion of enlarging the right partiesÂ’ representation in the European institutions.
Eventually as of the day the information emerged concerning the NF being financially backed-up by Russia the partyÂ’s fundamental principles changed dramatically. Multiple xenophobic and racist provisions (which are now proclaimed to be banned) have been replaced by rational position with distinctive centrist and protectionist views. Coincidence in time of such a drift within partyÂ’s outlook with rumors about Russian financial support may be evidence that through these financial injections in the NFÂ’s campaign (that appeared to be successful) Russia gains opportunity to influence the French policy via the National Front.