Marine Le Pen
The National Front in France is in an
Added on May 15, 2011
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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