The merger between the main French right-wing parties permitted to the Atlanticists to gain the upper hand over the Gaullists and to their champion, Nicolas Sarkozy, to become the UMP candidate. Getting in resistance, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan resigned from the only party of the right and announced his candidacy in the presidential election. He replies below to the questions of the Swiss weekly paper Horizons et débats.
- Nicolas Dupont-Aignan
Nicolas Dupon-Aignan, 44, French Member of Parliament for the Essonne Département, announced on 14 January on the occasion of the party congress of the UMP (Union pour un mouvement populaire – Union for a People’s Movement) that he wanted to take part in the presidency elections in France. On this occasion, Dupont-Aignan denounced the “liberal NATO-America-friendly and conservative drifting-off-course” of Nicolas Sarkozy and his party and withdrew from the movement. Today he feels “relieved about the possibility to express his opinions freely and in agreement with his decided Gaullist and republican convictions”.
Silvia Cattori: You did not mince matters to express your disapproval of Nicolas Sarkozy’s political line when you announced your candidacy for the presidency on 14 January. Isn’t your resignation from the UMP an expression of disapproval for the splitting tendencies within the party, which poison the discussion without dealing with the real concerns of the citizens? Will a candidacy like yours, outside the party and government machinery, be a surprise? Can it attract the voters from the right and the left spectre and cause them to vote against the dominant opinion, as with the referendum in May 2005 when the French rejected the constitutional draft, although the media and the major parties called on them to vote “yes”?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: Whether that is the case today or not, I do not know. What is for certain, however, is that the French are fed up with this polarization forced upon them by the media, which are too far away from reality and the country’s real problems. Are we still living in a democracy? If you read the public opinion polls, you could really raise this question. However, there is always a great difference between the polls and the votes in France. Therefore, I believe that in future some surprises might be possible.
Silvia Cattori: When you spoke out for a “no” vote for the referendum on the draft constitution, you were in opposition to your party. The socialist party called for a “yes” vote for this draft, which would have lessened civil liberties and the social achievements; it would have subjected the European Union to a neo-liberal program and European security politics to NATO and the USA. Until today neither Ségolène Royal nor Nicolas Sarkozy seem to desist from it. Has the debate between the right and left, as it is today, not lost all its sense?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: Yes, it has, because both parties suggest putting the European constitution to the vote either by parliament, in accordance with Mr. Sarkozy, or by the people, in accordance with Mrs. Royal – although the French rejected this constitution clearly. As a consequence, I have become a candidate for presidency to speak out against this constant ambiguous gossip!
Silvia Cattori: Do you want to achieve greater respect for the vote of the French with your candidacy?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: I believe it is extremely important to prevent the candidate’s current intention to return to the voting process about the draft constitution. I want to make all candidates reveal their plans regarding Europe during the election campaign.
Silvia Cattori: Isn’t the government’s national debt situation a problem, by which the country risks losing a part of its independence, something you would like to protect?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: France’s national debt is certainly too high. Nevertheless, it is lower than that of many other countries. Therefore, I think that we must first set economic growth in motion again by changing economic policy, and afterwards fight for the reduction of the national debt.
Silvia Cattori: Today there are signs for the preparation of new Israeli-American wars in the Middle East. The fact is, however, that neither Ségolène Royal nor Nicolas Sarkozy clearly expressed their opinions on these questions of foreign policy and defence. These questions interest the citizens and are subordinate to the authority of the president in France. Didn’t the two pour oil into the fire at the few opportunities in which they expressed their opinion? What comes to mind here is Ségolène Royal’s visit to the middle East and her remarks about the Iranian nuclear programme.  Also coming to mind are the statements Nicolas Sarkozy made about President Bush, in which he disavowed the position represented by Dominique de Villepin in the UN, namely France’s refusal to take part in the Iraq war in 2003. What is your position about these questions of foreign policy?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: We would face a fundamental change in the foreign policy of France if Nicolas Sarkozy or Ségolène Royal were elected. Neither the one nor the other has ever hidden his or her proximity to the United States and to Great Britain – they often quote both countries as models. It is natural that we have to open the eyes of the French and force the two candidates to change their positions, because a change in foreign policy would be extremely harmful for our country. I believe even that it is more than ever necessary to develop an independent policy with regard to the USA. It is not about opposing the United States in principle but it is simply about taking over an active role in a developing multi-polar world. If the crises are to be defused, it is more than ever necessary for France to represent its own positions, perhaps even by withdrawing from NATO in order to enable a European defence to be established.
Silvia Cattori: What were the reasons for maintaining NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Should not all European countries better have withdrawn from NATO? Don’t you think that the USA regards NATO as ground forces for their anti-Arab and anti-Muslim wars, and that the European NATO member states are dependent on it?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: NATO has no right of existence any more. It is normal that there is an organization and that France has a seat in its General Council. On the other hand, I regret very much the way our country has been gradually drawn into this military organisation via negotiated contracts. We must return to the position taken by general De Gaulle. “Yes” to the participation in the alliance, “no” to the participation in an integrated military organization. NATO may not become a protection guard for the USA and promote the clash of civilizations. Therefore France must back off as fast as possible from NATO and invite those European countries which are willing to withdraw to contact each other in order to establish a real European defence federation.
Silvia Cattori: France sent troops to Afghanistan, where NATO takes part in an American war of aggression with 40 000 soldiers, which is not compatible with its statutes. Angela Merkel’s ideas concerning NATO and United States are in contrast to the independence, that Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie proved, when she denounced the air traffic violations in Lebanon by Israel, and again recently when she rejected to place the French special forces in the south of Afghanistan under the command of the Pentagon and therefore announced their retreat. Didn’t France thereby show that it is not a NATO concern to suppress a rebellion in Afghanistan and that it is important to change the strategy of NATO?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: I am of the opinion that it is the task of France to learn from this error. I think that France should withdraw from Afghanistan as fast as possible. NATO must take over its responsibility.
Silvia Cattori: The fact that NATO stopped being a defensive alliance seems to worry you. Strangely enough, NATO’s initiation of and its involvement in illegal wars does not worry the parties, neither on the left of nor on the right. We do not even hear the leaders of the Socialists and the Greens condemn this development. Aren’t these matters which concern the security of the peoples and about which a public debate should urgently take place?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: It is obvious that NATO is about to change its role. The Socialists and the Greens do not want to take over their responsibility in matters of defence. On the contrary, I believe that it is essential to be coherent. If I assume that NATO does not fulfil its tasks any longer, it is understood that I support important defence efforts of France and the other European countries. You cannot criticize the US and at the same time seek their protection. On the one hand, you have to be an honest partner of the Americans and tell them the truth, on the other hand we must strengthen our national defence budget by harmonizing our European military programme even more.
Silvia Cattori: There are big differences of opinion between the European states. The English, the Germans and the Dutch fully support the US war policies. Haven’t these states lost their independence?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: Yes, but the time will come when public opinion will change. France does not have to query its own position. It must continue to maintain no hostile relations with its partners, but lead the way when matters are concerned. We will be the pioneers. If one day Europe wants to gain independence, it will have to make a military effort. For us, that simply means to show the way.
Silvia Cattori: Doesn’t the objection to the referendum require a re-orientation of the European Union, which has now increased to 27 member states, without any of the populations being asked? At the moment, however, Mrs. Merkel holds the European Union presidency for the next six months. Don’t you have the feeling that the European Union will develop a policy hostile to Europe and support the martial interests of the USA?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: Mrs. Merkel, along with other European leaders, seeks to limit peoples sovereign rights and enforce upon the French and other peoples a constitution that is dangerous for Europe. France must resist. Therefore, I have announced my candidacy for the presidential elections. I want to mobilise the greatest possible number of Frenchmen, to denounce this attempt of limiting the sovereignty of the French people. It is not about a conflict between France and the other countries. It is about a fundamental difference of opinion between the European elite and its peoples.
Silvia Cattori: It is understandable that they would like to make a contribution in order to lift the debate on a higher level and top serve a policy, which represents the interests of the French and respects the law on international level. But how do you want to make the break-through in this debate which is polarized between two candidates, a debate you characterize as “blocked by a standardised opinion and held in a mentality of talk-show-politics”? Will the electronic media be the scene of an honest and pluralistic argument?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: The electronic media are indispensable. The Internet will have a great importance in the campaign. I believe you may not allow anyone to discourage you. The whole history of France is characterized by the conflict between blind and malfunctioning elites and certain personalities – whatever origin they are –, who tried to rouse the peoples. That is only the beginning of a long fight.
Silvia Cattori: To summarize, it can be said that you want to come back to the idea of a multi-polar world, i.e. a world with several centres of power, and keep an eye on the decisions taken in Brussels if they contradict democracy. Do you want to say that - in view of a Ségolène Royal, who supports an agreement, which sells off France’s independence, and a Nicolas Sarkozy, who made himself dependent on the USA – you will fight, in order to prevent your country from adapting to an American superpower and the Americanisation of Europe?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: Exactly, I published a book with the title “Français reprenez le pouvoir” (“Frenchmen conquer power back again”) in the publishing house Archipel. In this book I outline my political plans. I am convinced that one day the French will again take over power. I hope that they will not hesitate for too long.
Silvia Cattori: In view of the other parties’ candidates, will you be able to gather a majority of the French with your project beyond all party lines?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: Not today. But you always have to think of the future, you never know. You must fulfil your duty. I fulfil my task as a free citizen and a free candidate for a free France and for a free and independent Europe.
Silvia Cattori: Do you have the impression that the voters of the UMP, who want to protect the independence of France – i.e. do not agree with the NATO-American connection – and who disapprove of the US-friendly position of Nicolas Sarkozy, are enough in numbers and will follow you? Can you, since Jean Pierre Chevènement, who had openly taken position against the NATO-American alliance, has withdrawn his candidacy, count on the support of left voters, too?
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: I am convinced of it. There are many people from the left as well as from the right who support me: free people, who do no longer believe in the two candidates of the “show-biz” with their talk-show-politics.
Français reprenez le pouvoir By Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Published by L’Archipel, 2006.