Marine Le Pen, the extreme right wrapped in moderation to reach the Elysee

On her third attempt to reach the Elysee, the far-right candidate of the National Association in the French presidential elections, Marine Le Pen, is not the same as the one who ran in 2012 or 2017. Le Pen has moderate your speech on immigration, Islam, the European Union and even his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, to improve your chances of success.

Marine LePen “represents an evolution of the extreme right”assures in statements to the director of the Madrid Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), José Ignacio Torreblanca. “It has modernized that extreme right turning it into an almost main force,” he adds.

She studied law at the Panthéon-Assas University in Paris and practiced for six years as a lawyer, before beginning her long political career. After taking the reins of the National Front in 2011, the party founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the presidential candidate has worked to break party ties with his father. The researcher at the Barcelona Center for International Relations (CIDOB), Moussa Bourekba, believes that Marine Le Pen, unlike her father “he wants to come to power”, although “he has not fundamentally renounced the measures and the ideology” of Jean-Marie.

The same in the essential, but camouflaged

The current Marine Le Pen who challenges the President of France she is not the same candidate who lost to Macron in the 2017 presidential election. His views on the immigration, his positions on Islam and Euroscepticism they did not convince many French voters. Since then, Le Pen has worked to tone down his proposals on the European Union and immigration, for example by softening one of his most controversial proposals: banning the Islamic veil on the street.

According to Torreblanca, “essentially (Le Pen) is the same, but she is a leader who has been progressively camouflaging herself” and assures that the National Group candidate “has been forging a kind of path towards the majority to stop being a radical party, of marginal extreme right”. She is the same, but adapts to circumstances to improve your chances of success“, Add.

Along the same lines, the professor of International Relations at Comillas Pontifical University, Andrea Betti, affirms that the Marine Le Pen’s target is “get votes a little more towards the center”. “He has moderated his speech a bit to try not to scare away the votes of those who usually vote for the center right, but from the point of view of the policies that he proposes, such as migration issues, we have a continuity”, says the teacher.

This strategy of the far-right candidate seems to have worked, since in the first round of the elections held this year she obtained better results than five years ago. In 2017 Macron and Le Pen went to the polls with a distance of more than 23 points in favor of the socioliberalwhile this year Macron’s advantage is 11 points.

Le Pen’s candidacy as “lesser evil”

Millions of French citizens are preparing to vote this Sunday not for a candidate, but for keep another out of Elysee. The vote against Le Pen, in the other two elections in which she ran for president, has resulted in a landslide defeat for the far right, with many voters now saying that feel compelled to choose the lesser evil between the two applicants in this second round of the presidential elections.

“There are many young people who have come out with graffiti of ‘Neither Macron nor Le Pen’ and wonder: why do I have to vote at least bad?explains the director of the Nebrija University International Relations department, Adela Alija, who adds that “now there is no common front to prevent Le Pen from entering politics as there was in 2017.” “Now there is more division and, above all, in where the problem is seen is in the abstention”, he asserts.

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With the candidate of the radical left party France Insumisa, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, out of the race, it is worrying that their voters do not go to the polls this Sunday. According to an internal consultation of his party, about 67% of his supporters will abstain or vote blank or null in the second round.

Professor Betti points out that “there is a part of French society that is between angry and tired of centrist, liberal and pro-European policies, and prefers a policy of greater confrontation with the European institutions”. In this sense, to reach the presidency, Le Pen has to “manage to add all the opposition to Macron, including voters from Mélenchon’s left, to whom he has to convincing that Macron is so obnoxious that she is a lesser evil”, explains Torreblanca.

His possible victory, a “shock” for Europe

The views on the European Union of Le Pen, who has often been criticized for her vision against the community club, are not the same as when she campaigned to become president for the first time in 2012. After her defeat in the presidential elections of 2017, the candidate He ruled out an exit from the euro, another of the ideas that he contemplated in his previous program.

Now, the far-right leader -investigated for embezzlement by the European Anti-Fraud Office- assures that she wants France continues to be part of the bloc, as well as in the euro zone, but insists that the functioning of the club is “undemocratic” and that wants to reform the European Union “from within”, withdrawing powers to return them to the Member States.

Le Pen advocates “staying” in the EU but wants to “profoundly change it”

Professor Betti is of the opinion that if Marine Le Pen arrives at the Elysée “we would see a more nationalistic France, less willing to submit to European institutional orders and more favorable to an intergovernmental vision of Europe, much more focused on the interests of each country”. “In the event of a Le Pen victory in France, it would be very difficult to see a united foreign policy from the European Union,” he adds.

For his part, Bourekba points out that Le Pen’s arrival at the presidency would be “a shock” because “France is one of the main powers and the Franco-German couple is the engine of the European Union”. “When we look at Marine Le Pen’s show, she proposes a number of things that go against current French law and some European treaties. Having Le Pen as president of a country like France, whose political weight is enormous within the EU, it would be a giant shock”, indicates the CIDOB researcher.

Conservative affinities with Putin

Le Pen has long been a open admirer of the Russian presidentwhom he visited during his 2017 presidential campaign. In Wednesday’s electoral debate, the current French president accused his rival of depending on Putin and a Russian bank that granted the National Rally party a loan in 2015. In the midst of the war in the Ukraine, during his campaign, Le Pen has modified some of her comments about Putin.

“The issue of Ukraine has made him spin some issue a bit, because (Le Pen) was so happy to feature Putin in the pamphlets and the invasion of Ukraine has made the issue of anti-Europeanism and his clear sympathy for Putin are now in a lower tone”, explains Alija, who points out that Le Pen “has many affinities with the Russian president, not only because of the support that Putin gives to all the forces that can destabilize the West or the European Union”.

“This closeness of far-right parties is based on ultra-nationalism, the idea of ​​a world in which multilateral organizations are not seen as something defensible, but rather a world of States, which seek power or security, and that it is shared”, he adds.

Le Pen went so far as to accuse the United States and NATO of arming the countries bordering Russia and argued that France should abandon the military structure of the Atlantic Alliance. Now, the far-right candidate has put aside her old admiration for Putin, but she has pointed out that, when the war in Ukraine is over, NATO should establish a security agreement with Russia. According to Torreblanca, Putin and Le Pen “programmatically agree that they are anti-NATO, anti-European Union, anti-many progressive elements of liberal democracies and that leads them to have supported each other”.

The origins of the Le Pen movement

The first time that Le Pen stood for presidential elections in 2012, she obtained 18% of the votes, which was the best result in the history of the then National Front, the party founded by his father, Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972. Professor Andrea Betti assures that the origins of the Le Pen movement are in “discontent towards the elites, the fear of globalization and inequality, as well as the fear of immigration”.

Marine Le Pen: “I am going to be the president of all French people”

The far-right candidate gave her first steps in politics under the shadow of his father, with whom he has broken relations to “modernize and adopt a discourse that separates him from the nostalgia of the past”, according to Torreblanca. “Marine Le Pen has very clearly broken with her father and she has become an independent autonomous leader and a leader of the 21st century, not the 20th century”, he details.

For Bourekba, unlike her father, Marine Le Pen “wants to come to power and govern” and as a condition for achieving that goal “she has had to demonize the image of the National Front”. “He has had to put an end to a series of insults and ambiguities that his father had. His father was openly anti-Semitic and made jokes about things like concentration camps,” he explains. However, the CIDOB investigator affirms that “when we look at matters sacred to the National Front, we still have a program that still bears the mark of his father”, he asserts.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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