Marine Le Pen, the extreme right trivialized and closer than ever to the coronation

She is on the verge of taking her revenge, largely beaten in 2017 by Emmanuel Macron, who crushed her during a debate between two rounds: Marine Le Pen, who succeeded in trivializing the far right, could become the first French president on April 24.

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Largely outpaced by the outgoing president a few months ago in the polls, she has regained almost all her delay in the last days of the campaign. An opinion poll gave it Monday at 48.5% of voting intentions in the second round of the ballot, against 51.5% for Mr. Macron.

“The momentum in favor of Marine Le Pen has never been stronger. A hope arises. Do not scatter your voices”, rejoiced the interim president of his party, Jordan Bardella.

A small family victory for the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, figure for decades of the French far right, who had never been able to dream so high. She had to patiently deconstruct what he had built with anti-Semitic or racist harangues, sometimes condemned in court.


Marine Le Pen, the extreme right trivialized and closer than ever to the coronation

“De-demonize” the National Front (FN), to the point of excluding his father in August 2015, whose remarks were too divisive to allow a national victory. “I adored this man,” she says. “I fought a lot for him, but at some point it had to stop.”

Change the image of the party through a “normalization”, which went through a new name. The FN, with a sinister reputation, became “National Rally” (RN) in 2018. Her formation, which she has chaired since 2011, campaigns on her first name, Marine, preferred to her surname, heavily connoted.

Changes

On the sets, the candidate, with a touchy character, no longer gets angry with the spikes of journalists. She politely takes it. Dress in light colors. Smile more. Show her feminine side.

Twice divorced, mother of three, separated from one of the figures of the movement, Marine Le Pen, 53, a lawyer by training, insists on the economy, poor relation of the RN’s speech, in order to seduce the “losers” of globalization, often attracted by the sirens of the extreme right.

For the 2022 presidential election, she is campaigning on purchasing power, the number one concern of the French, while the war in Ukraine is causing fuel and food prices to soar. Faced with an Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, designated “president of the rich”.


Marine Le Pen, the extreme right trivialized and closer than ever to the coronation

For a time overwhelmed on her right by Éric Zemmour, she lets the storm pass and sees the ex-controversialist, who wants to force parents to give “French first names” to newborns or create a Ministry of Remigration to return the unwanted foreigners, plummeting in the polls.

Compared to the “radical, even brutal discourse” chosen by Mr. Zemmour, “Marine Le Pen made the opposite choice of normalizing, softening, smoothing out her discourse”, observes Cécile Alduy, professor at Stanford University and associate researcher at Cevipof (Science Po).

“Her program has hardly changed on the fundamentals of the FN such as immigration and national identity, but she has chosen another vocabulary to justify it,” continues this far-right specialist. It is now “in the name of secularism and republican values, even feminism, that she attacks Islam and wants to drastically limit non-European immigration.”

“Aggressive”

In terms of migration, its program has even “hardened” since 2010, pointed out Monday a study by the Jean-Jaurès Foundation.

Marine Le Pen plans for 2022 to include in the Constitution the “national priority” which will deprive foreigners of several benefits. She also wants, like Éric Zemmour, to expel illegal immigrants, criminals and foreign delinquents, those suspected of radicalization as well as … foreigners who have been unemployed for more than a year, she noted.

The second round is however promised to him by all the polling institutes… provided that his voters, quick to shun the ballot boxes, unlike those of the outgoing president, go to the voting booth on Sunday, the day of the first round.

If she convinces their reluctance, a new debate is promised to her against Emmanuel Macron, to try to erase that of the between-two rounds in 2017, approached unprepared, which had seen the outgoing president atomize it.

Marine Le Pen, who recognized at the end of March in the daily Le Parisien, a “strategic error”, claims to have “learned the lessons”.

“Five years ago, I had in front of me a young man who came from nowhere. I said to myself that I had to explain to the French what his policy was going to be and so I was aggressive, ”she explains.

But “this time, I’m really going to use my time to show the French people that another policy is possible. (…) I think that I have never been so close to victory as today”.

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