Le Pen never had a real shot at the presidency, you are right. But he has for example, or his party rather, won mayoral elections in Toulouse.Bala Verde said:Europe doesn't have one electoral system, every country has its own, some more akin to the us system, and others entirely different. In all of them, racism manifests itself.
Le penn was second in a run off a couple of years ago, precisely because of its non proportional nature. When the 'liberals' split the vote, the second best candidate was le penn, who had at that time been polling steady at around 15-17% I believe. So on the one hand, the system allowed him to continue in a best of two run off, but the system would also deny him overall victory because he seems to max out at a 'mere 17%' (which is still frightening given what he sais...). So despite and because of the French system does le penn matter.
The electoral system in the uk also seems to prevent the bnp from becoming a player at all in uk politics, because only 2, and since recently 3 parties matter.
In the Netherlands, proportional representation has led to a fascist populist to become semi-part of the ruling coalition, because the electoral system fragments the vote into multiple parties, who ultimately have to forge a working coalition. Nonetheless, all votes count, but you never know with what coalition you end up. In Germany, they prevent over-fragmentation, like what happens in Israel and the Netherlands for example, by forcing parties to pass 5% of vote threshold, so that not all votes will translate into parliamentary seats, while still allowing for a high degree of proportional representation.
I don't know which system is better, I am only most familiar with the Dutch system. It is also hard to say which system is better, given the entirely different set of countries, cultures, histories and problems. Can the dutch system even work in a contry as large as the u.s.? I also doubt there is more racism in France, or the Netherlands than in the us, but it seems the electoral systems may hide or channel country specific racisms differently. Le penn run offs, pvv party in the Netherlands (islamophobia), but perhaps a hidden type of racism in the two dominating parties in the US (nativism).
It also seems unlikely in the us, that they will ever sacrifice the current, highly individual and districtconnected system in favour of more party based systems with less focus on the parties' composition of individuals... Few of them are actually chosen individually, they are in parliament because they were placed on a party list, and the party won x% of the vote. The former seems to lead to a better, closer relation between constiituent and lawmaker, whereas the latter seems to forge more coherent policy platforms.
Although the u.s. Caucus states show a resemblance with Dutch party conferences where party members (people who are donating members to a national party, I.e. who chose to affiliate themselves with a party, as opposed to merely showing up for the vote) come together annually to have a dialogue about the party leadership, the party members who are listed for elections and the policy path forward. Attending members go to a conference and get 30s speaking time, which they can use I individually, or contribute to someone who they think is closely aligned with their own position. So one person can then speak for 10 minutes if he has 20 supporters at party conference, to make his point. Not all parties work like that, and I doubt the pvv party of wilders, who tightly controls the message operates like that.
The BNP has gotten seats for the european parliament here (which uses different voting to the general elections).
My point was not that extremist parties would challenge for the presidency but rather that if you break the 2 party system they would form and when they form, just like the National Front challenges for mayoral elections in Toulouse, you might get them challenging for congressional elections, mayoral ones etc.
The Bnp gets high % in Barking which is a central London constituency, where its leader stood for election. People I play football with feel no shame in telling me they have voted for the BNP.
And if thats Britain and France, what can we expect from the American South?