This is a term used in particular by supporters of the FN (Front National), a blend of UMP (the center-right party of the shady exhibitionist Sarkozy) and PS (the Parti Socialo of the ineffable Francois Hollande). These have been the traditional adversaries in French national politics for many years, passing the sceptre of office back and forth from time to time, to little effect as regards such key questions as national identity and unchecked immigration. The point of the hippogriffic acronym is to suggest, in the immortal phrase of the Le-Pen-ish George Wallace back when he nursed Presidential aspirations, that there wasn’t a “dime’s worth of difference” between the two major parties. An American analogue to the blend is Republicrat.
This business of never have a practical choice between the two major parties (Democrats & Republicans in USA, UMP and PS in France) is called in French l’altérnance. In the run-up to the recent départementales, there has been much disenchantment with the ruling Socialistes, and increasing acrimony between PS and UMP, so that FN chief Marine Le Pen wisecracked that her party might this time enjoy the role of “troisième larron” -- literally ‘third thief’, but meaning tertium gaudens.
But it was not to be: the FN trailed third, though the PS received a well-deserved thwacking.
There is an unfortunate sociohistorical dynamic that repeats itself, whenever there is a swelling elephant in the room, which the major parties studiously ignore; any allusion to this pachydermal presence is quickly suppressed. To ignore the tacit gag order is to risk social and even legal sanctions. In such cases, some percentage of those who wish to found a third party to deal with the problem head-on, are those who in any case have little to lose, being marginalized in one way or another -- which reinforces the marginalization of the party as a whole.
In the case of the FN, the policy statements and public presence of Marine herself have been exemplary, far more adult than those of Taubira or DSK. But the press can always dig up some Anhänger or other, with louche views, to highlight, and to tar the party with that brush. Lately, one of the problem children has been Jean-Marie Le Pen himself, who enjoys (in his old age -- a sort of hobby) playing the provocateur. Alarmed, there have been repeated calls for Marine to expel her father from the Front National -- the very party he founded. (Uncomfortable echos of Goneril and Lear.)
|Daddy ... Daddy ... One of us has to die ....|
[Update 9 April 2015] So: The daughter has now publically called her father out. His riposte:
We shall see, then, whether the upshot prove to be parricide, or filicide.
(For our essay on magistricide (intellectual parricide), click here.)
[Update 11 April] A WaPo blogger offers a chrestomathy of provocative one-lines by European “Euroskeptic” third-party figures:
The quote from J-M L-P was a reprise of something he had said before, and thus not something to be dismissed as off-mike or off-the-cuff:
En juin 2014, Jean-Marie Le Pen évoque "Monseigneur Ebola", et explique que le virus, qui a aujourd'hui causé la mort de plus de 4000 personnes, pouvait "régler" la question de la surpopulation mondiale et le "risque de submersion de la France par l'immigration"
What to make of such ejaculations?
Consider the background. In Europe, there is a heavy lid on public discussion of certain subjects. It follows from sheer physics that such jets of steam as manage to escape this iron confinement, will tend to be superheated.