The French Elections and the Russians

Via The Economist is an interesting piece on the French presidential campaign:  France’s presidential race is a clash of worldviews.  The first paragraph raises an interesting point on the current state of world politics:

WHAT did Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s National Front, expect to gain by visiting Moscow on March 24th? Her core supporters relished seeing her with Vladimir Putin, a strong woman standing next to a strongman. Ms Le Pen came away claiming that the world now belongs to nationalist populists such as Mr Putin, Donald Trump, India’s Narendra Modi and, implicitly, herself.

Really, it is hard not to look at events like this (or the photo in the piece of Putin with Le Pen) and not clearly see that Russia has a vested interest in influencing elections abroad.  As such, it is disturbing how many US citizens don’t take that influence seriously.

At a bare minimum, it should be concerning that a foreign power would seek to interfere with another country’s internal operations if anything because, by definition, that foreign power has its own interests in mind, not that of the target country.

The phrase “useful idiots” comes to mind.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Hal_10000 says:

    If Le Pen (or Trump or anyone) thinks that Putin has their interests in mind, they’re deeply mistaken. Putin is simply sowing chaos. He’ll turn on them whenever it’s convenient.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    Putin is simply sowing chaos. He’ll turn on them whenever it’s convenient.

    Hmm, that is also the perfect description of someone in this country…who could that be? Hmm…ah, that clown who likes to tweet in the middle of the night and has unnatural looking orange hair…

  3. george says:


    Though to be fair, that’s more or less the standard in high level international politics. The French have certainly played around in other countries’ affairs in the past (as has America), including that of the Russians (and Soviets).

    I don’t hold a particular grudge against Putin for what he’s doing, its pretty much par for the course, Russia’s been on the giving and receiving end of that game for centuries (and as I said, from both the French and America). The blame goes to people like Trump (and perhaps Le Pen) for allowing their country to be used.

  4. There is a French comedy show(Les Guignols) that produced videos like these, with Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin all dancing together:

    That’s why I think that Marine does not stand a chance. Her connections with Trump are going to sink her.

  5. WoTsUp says:

    The Soviets/Russians have been “meddling” in our elections for decades. Ted Kennedy even literally tried making a deal with them back when he ran for POTUS.

    The US has interfered, sometimes directly via actual rigging, in elections.

    Mexico meddles in US elections, with even Mexican officials holding rallies here. Even Obama said to illegal immigrants that the act of voting makes you a citizen; sounds like meddling to me.

    Obama meddled in Israel’s and Britain’s elections. The “idiots” there tho saw past that and elected Bibi and Brexit.