If you have been to France at any point in the last 50 years or so, you’ll probably have noticed that it is really quite a nice country. On balance, not a bad place to be.

It can therefore seem mysterious to outsiders that so many of the French believe that France has suffered a long national decline which may now be sliding towards a terminal crisis.

© cnn.com

On April 23rd the French people will vote in the first round of their presidential election. There is a lot at stake. The outgoing president is the least popular in the history of the Fifth Republic. The most popular politician in France today is Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front.

For an increasing number of French voters, far-right politics is no longer toxic. They want to turn the clock back. Why is this happening? Do any of the other candidates have better ideas?

We talk to the award-winning author Laurent Binet, whose novels include HHhH and the forthcoming The Seventh Function of Language. He also wrote an in-depth journalistic account of the last French presidential election, Nothing Goes As Planned.

Laurent Binet

P.S. We are continuing to take suggestions for the podcast name but feel the potential title below (from @simontreanor) may take some beating…

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