Whatever Chirac may say you can't get away from the fact that six million French people voted for a far right anti-immigrant candidate.
We are not talking about a couple of thousand votes for the British Nationalist Party in Burnley, we are talking millions of people. We are talking seven times the population of the Balearics voting for a man whose policies are simply quite dreadful.
What makes such a large number of people vote for such a radical candidate? I believe that the political establishment across Europe has lost touch with the people. Power has become too centralised in the capital cities, so much so that politicians only know what is happening in the rest of the country by what they read in the newspapers and this is generally penned or broadcast by journalists who themselves are capital city based. Ahead of the local elections in Britain Fleet Street despatched reporters and photographers to Burnley to check out the racial tensions and to establish why the BNP would capture votes. It was as if they had been sent to the other side of the moon and their despatches read like stories from some far off country and not a place in Northern England. London is not Britain and Paris is not France. If radicals are to be stopped in their tracks the political mainstream must start governing across the country and not just from some ivory tower in the capitals. Le Pen's minor victory was not because of his policies or even his charisma it was because a sizeable proportion of voters felt let down by the political mainstream and this must not be allowed to happen again.