John Oliver explains why you should care about the French election

Last Week Tonight / YouTube
Last Week Tonight / YouTube /

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is here to tell you why the French election matters.

The first round of the French election takes place this Sunday and John Oliver knows it sounds like déjà vu: “A potentially destabilizing populist campaigning on anti-immigrant rhetoric, who rages against the elite, despite having a powerful father and inherited wealth, even as all the experts reassure us that there is no way that this can possibly happen.”

The French system works like this. In the first round on April 23, all 11 candidates compete. The top two candidates, likely to be Emmanuel Macron and Marion LePen, will then compete in the second round on May 7. It’s simple, but the stakes are incredibly high. While it may sound like hyperbole, there is something to assertion that the whole future of Europe hangs in the balance.

Plus, the candidates are nuts. Many support a French exit from the E.U. à la Brexit and most of their campaigns are marked by things not entirely related to governing. Including but not limited to the belief that the Queen of England is a drug trafficker, the unethical acceptance of suits, holograms and a lot of flour-bombing.

See John Oliver explain the situation and appeal to France’s native feelings of superiority below.

The situation in France is not unlike that in the U.K. or the United States the past year. Unemployment is at 10 percent and anti-immigrant hate speech is increasingly loud. Not helping things, France has also been the site of a number of terror attacks. The current president, François Hollande, is not even running for re-election on account of holding a 4 percent approval rating.

The two frontrunners leave a lot to be concerned about. Macron is running on a pro-business, pro-Europe campaign and while he’s the favorite, he is also “generally inoffensive and not super attractive to anyone.” Marion LePen, his extremist, nationalist opponent, is much more worrisome.

LePen is the daughter of Jean-Marie LePen, the truly awful founder of the National Front party, a man who denies the Holocaust and a party who is associated with skinheads. The younger LePen, however, has done a fairly impressive job of rehabilitating the party’s image if not their message, which remains aggressively anti-immigrant. As Oliver puts it, “elegant presentation does not negate poisonous content.”

A win for the far right populist movement would not only continue a troublesome election trend, but it would also likely lead to France leaving the E.U. As one French pundit put it, it’s not bragging, to say if France is out of the E.U., it’s the end of the E.U.

The fear is that if, as rumored, a third of voters abstain during the election, LePen’s supporters will deliver a victory for the far right. The hope is that the French love of feeling superior will prevent them from making the same mistakes as Britain and America.