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Marine Le Pen
The National Front in France is in an upswing


Added on May 15, 2011
The possible Socialist presidential candidate Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been arrested in New York on charges of criminal sexual act, attempted rape and an unlawful imprisonment in connection with a sexual assault on a 32-year chambermaid in the luxury suite of a Midtown Manhattan hotel” on May 14, according to the police department's chief spokesman. Marine Le Pen's presidential chances are even better now!

Article added on April 4, 2011 
The rightwing National Front (Front National, FN) in France is in an upswing. Its new leader, Marine Le Pen (*1968), is the youngest of three daughters of the longtime right-wing leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.   

Before the last presidential election, the then elected and current French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, embraced many ideas of the National Front to attract right-wing voters. Once elected, Sarkozy just forgot to successfully tackle the problems denounced during the campaign, mainly the ones of immigration, integration and crime. As a result, France has again a rising right-wing party.

An important part of the electorate embraces the ideas of the right-wing. The have been made acceptable by Sarkozy's campaign. But this time, many French may vote for the “original” rather than the UMP centre-right party candidate in the next presidential election.

On January 16, 2011 Marine Le Pen was elected president of the National Front with the support of roughly 68% of the party's voters. She is a lawyer by profession; she was registered at the Paris bar association until 1998, when she started to concentrate on politics, entering the legal services of the Front National and being elected regional councilor of the Pas-de-Calais region.

Marine Le Pen is the mother of three children. She has divorced twice. Her companion in life is Louis Aliot (*1969), a lawyer and vice-president of the National Front.

Marine Le Pen tries to reposition her party, which she describes as “neither on the right, nor on the left”. Although she is clearly still heading a right-wing party, she is succeeding when it comes to the public opinion.

A poll published on March 28, 2011 suggested that some 52% of the French consider the National Front a normal party. This offers a great potential in a time when an unprecedented 75% of the French disapprove the government's policies. Marine Le Pen tries to position the Front National as the only alternative of real change, defying both the traditional right and left.

Marine Le Pen is not as crude as her father who considered the Holocaust a detail of history; she called the Shoah “the worst crime of the past”. Unlike her father, she is not putting the emphasis only on patriotism and anti-EU rhetoric, on Christianity and anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments. She is also successfully pandering to the poor and the squeezed middle-classes who suffered in the financial crisis. Euro-bashing, inflation and unemployment fears belong to her vocabulary too. She opposes free-trade and advocates a “reasonable” protectionism.



Jean-Marie Le Pen seemed happy with his role as the outsider troubling the political establishment. His daughter seems to aim higher. She wants to gain real power.

A poll by Harris interactive for the French newspaper Le Parisien, published on March 7, 2011 put Marine Le Pen with 24% ahead of Dominique Strauss-Kahn with 23% and President Sarkozy with 21% in the 2012 presidential election. In the case of François Hollande instead of Dominique Strauss-Kahn running for the Socialists, the poll put Ms Le Pen ahead with 24% in front of President Sarkozy with 21% and M. Hollande with 20%. If Martine Aubry should run for the Socialist, Marine Le Pen would win 23%, President Sarkozy and Martine Aubry would both garner 21% each.  In all cases, Marine Le Pen would enter the second round of the presidential election, with either the center-right or the center-left candidate being eliminated in the first round. A nightmare scenario for the French political class, which remembers well April 21, 2002 when the Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin was eliminated by Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of the presidential election.

Polls are just polls, but Marine Le Pen proved in the March 2011 cantonal election that the National Front is well alive. The overall vote for the National Front of roughly 11.6% is misleading. The party only presented candidates in 403 out of the 1440 cantons. Counting only the cantons in which the FN was present, the party won an astonishing average of 45% of the vote, as Le Figaro noticed. Still, the FN ended up wining only 2 seats. However, more importantly, in the second round of the March 2011 cantonal elections, the FN did not lose votes, with the protest votes not flowing back to the mainstream parties in the second round. On the contrary, the FN increased its result from 620,000 votes in the first round to 915,000 votes in the second round, a progression of some 50%. In short, the FN vote is no longer considered a protest vote. The French stick with their decision also when it matters.

This could mean trouble for Nicolas Sarkozy's reelection chances in the 2012 presidential election. He may face contenders and/or protests from the far-right, the right and the center, including Marine Le Pen,, Dominique de Villepin, Jean-Louis Borloo, François Bayrou and others. In this context, the president's center-right risks to fall apart or at least to get substantially squeezed. [added on April 8, 2011: Yesterday, Jean-Louis Borloo announced on French state television that he would leave Sarkozy's UMP party and may be a candidate in the 2012 presidential election. As mentioned above, several other personalities from the center-right are thinking about a presidential run; incidentally, another possible name on that list would be Hervé Morin of the Nouveau Centre].

The result of the 2011 cantonal elections means trouble for the French political establishment as a whole because the real winners were the non-voters with the abstention rate reaching a record high 55.7%.


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