Between high unemployment rates, near-constant threats of terrorism, and “national identity,” France’s next leader will have a lot on their plate. As right-wing politicians have gained prominence in the country, support for a French exit from the European Union has risen, making the importance of the country’s upcoming elections all the more apparent. On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver broke down the major candidates France will choose from next Sunday and made a small request: “Don’t f*ck up, too.”
Since current French president François Hollande is both a Socialist and holding a 4% approval rating, France’s election is expected to come down to two candidates: the pro-business, “unattractive to anybody” centrist Emmanuel Macron; and the far-right populist Marine Le Pen, who has come under fire for comments on the Holocaust (made by herself as well as her father) but enjoys support among young, unemployed people who have responded to some of her domestic policies. Oliver spent a bulk of the segment on Le Pen’s xenophobic public statements, including ones in which she accuses immigrants of being out to steal wallpaper and expresses relief that Sikhs aren’t making news in France.
Oliver warned though, through clips of French media saying Le Pen will never win, that we’ve seen this movie before.
“One of the frustrating things about watching this unfold from America is this feels a little like deja vu: a potentially destabilizing populist campaigning on anti-immigrant rhetoric who rages against the elites despite having a powerful father and inherited wealth.
“You in France love nothing more than acting like you’re better than Britain and America. Well, now is your chance to prove that. Because we made populist, nativist choices with Brexit and Trump, and to be honest, it’s not working out so great for us so far. And now you have a populist, nativist choice of your own, and just imagine how superior you could feel if you don’t make the same mistake that we did.”
To really hammer his plea home, Oliver addressed France in French (while shot in black and white, smoking a cigarette, and drinking a glass of wine):
“Listen: Britain and America f*cked up. Don’t fuck up, too. Marine Le Pen is — how do you say in French? A demagogic a**hole. A monstrous, demagogic a**hole. You’re better than this. This is your chance to live up to the French philosophy of the Enlightenment.”
France’s first round of voting starts April 23rd.