Marine le pen

Marine Le Pen wants France to become the next Sweden

While Emmanuel Macron spent Sunday in London honouring the memory of the late Queen Elizabeth, Marine Le Pen marked her return from a summer break with an address to the party faithful in the south of France. Buoyed by the success of the Swedish right in last week’s election, and anticipating a similar result on Sunday when the Italians go to the polls, Le Pen attributed what she called a ‘patriotic wave’ sweeping the continent to the EU’s failure to tackle mass immigration in the last decade. In the opinion of Le Pen no one embodies this failure more than Macron. Last Thursday the president told an assembly of prefects

Forget Le Pen 2027

If Emmanuel Macron has any sense he will be back in the office this morning. Sunday night’s celebratory shindig was good while it lasted but the Fifth Republic has never faced such a parlous future, either socially or economically. One can only hope that the attack on a priest in a Nice church on Sunday morning, barely mentioned by the media, is not a harbinger of things to come for Macron’s second term. Of more general concern for France is the economic situation. Everything is rising, from the cost of petrol to the price of a baguette, and the war in Ukraine will only deepen the crisis in the months

Will Russia sink Le Pen?

Paris, France Marine Le Pen has changed her image. Five years ago, the veteran far-right leader lost her second bid for the French presidency to a virtual newcomer, Emmanuel Macron, who swept into office with two-thirds of the vote. This time, she has assured her anxious supporters that things will be different. She has retired her policy of pulling out of the EU, calling instead for it to transform into a federation of sovereign states. She has also sought to assuage fears she would bring back the Franc. Gone too are calls to end all immigration to France – legal and illegal – preferring instead a comparatively more mellow line about how

Gavin Mortimer

Why so many millennials are backing Marine Le Pen

Many years ago I married into a family of the French working-class. They came from Aveyron, La France Profonde, and most were dyed-in-the-wool socialists. But at a barbecue in the summer of 2002 one, Fabien, admitted that he had cast his ballot for Jean-Marie Le Pen in the recent election. A quarrel ensued but the young man stood his ground. His car had been broken into three times in a matter of months and the police in Marseille had shown no interest. Voting for Le Pen was Fabien’s protest at the police indifference to petty crime. Twenty years later and it is no longer unusual to discover young people who

Narcissist vs fantasist: France’s gruesome choice

Something strange is happening in advanced western democracies. In America and France, voters keep finding themselves choosing between candidates for whom they have very little affection. In America, we saw Clinton vs Trump, followed by Biden vs Trump. And in France this week, we have Macron vs Le Pen again. As many French voters now say, this is a choice between la peste (plague) et le choléra. Emmanuel Macron is disliked: arrogant and narcissistic to the point where he has compared himself to Jupiter, king of the gods. He has spent five years insulting and patronising voters and delivering mediocre results. His management of the epidemic was repressive and absurdist.

Le Pen drives Paris mad. That’s why her voters love her

When asked to define Marine Le Pen in a single word, a majority of French people came up with ‘cats’ rather than ‘extreme-right’. In the past five years, she has worked hard at ‘detoxifying’ her brand. She softened her platform so that she no longer advocates Frexit or even leaving the Euro. Unlike Eric Zemmour, the former Le Figaro columnist, she insisted Islam was compatible with the values of the Republic. It’s Islamism that isn’t, she said.  Having fired her then-85-year-old father for anti-Semitism in 2015, she tried to reshape the old Front National. She changed the party name in 2018 (to Rassemblement National or National Rally). Throughout, everyone including her

The real danger Marine Le Pen poses to the EU

As the French Presidentielle hots up for the final vote on Sunday week, both Macron and Le Pen are fighting bitterly for the support of the erstwhile supporters of the left-winger Mélenchon who came a very respectable third in last Sunday’s poll. From the great and the good, who detest Le Pen, there is a concerted call to all and sundry to form an anti-far-right alliance and vote for Macron (where necessary holding their noses) so as to replicate what happened in 2017. It is fair to say that much of what is said against Le Pen is misleading. Her economic policies are if anything more Mélenchon than Macron: lowering

The French elite are playing into Le Pen’s hands

The cry of ‘aux barricades’ is reverberating around France as the country’s political elite rush to form a Republican Front. There is diversity in the ranks of those lining up to prevent Marine Le Pen reaching the Élysée. Communists, Capitalists and past presidents and prime ministers have mobilised for Emmanuel Macron ahead of the second round on Sunday week. Who would have thought France would see the day when Nicolas Sarkozy, President ‘Bling Bling’ as he was nicknamed during his time in office, would find common ground with Fabien Roussel, the Communist leader, or for that matter a pair of Socialists in former president François Hollande and his PM Manuel

Will Le Pen’s niece join Éric Zemmour’s campaign?

Is Marion Maréchal, granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and niece of Marine, about to emerge from political retirement to support the presidential election campaign of Éric Zemmour?  Normally the answer to any question posed by a journalist is ‘no’ but maybe not this time. Marion could give new momentum to Zemmour’s campaign, which seems recently to be stuck in a rut. Marion could be the right figure to lure National Front voters — who have been disgruntled with her aunt, Marine Le Pen — towards Zemmour. Zemmour’s political consultants think she could be the deus ex machina to resolve the conflict at the heart of the opposition to Macron: three

Eric Zemmour’s big weakness has been exposed

George W Bush will forever be in debt to The Donald. Before Trump became the 45th president of the United States, the man nicknamed ‘Dubya’ was widely considered by many Americans to be the most inept. Then came Trump. No longer was Bush a clown. The American left forget how they’d demonised him and looked wistfully to a time when there was dignity in the Oval Office. Marine Le Pen is experiencing something similar since Eric Zemmour’s emergence as a presidential candidate. She is no longer Public Enemy No. 1 since her detractors turned their fire on Zemmour; where once their battle-cry before any election was ‘Anyone but Le Pen’, now

My night in Béziers with Zemmour

Béziers is the ancient winemaking capital of the Occitanie region in the deep south of France and a stronghold of the French right. Its popular mayor, Robert Ménard, a former journalist, was elected as an independent, but with a strong endorsement from Marine Le Pen. Her political movement, the Rassemblement National, formerly the National Front, with historical roots in anti-Semitism, has been powerful here for decades. So is it paradoxical, bizarre, or perhaps evidence of a more profound shift of social and political tectonic plates, that last Saturday night thousands of Biterrois turned out at the Zinga Zanga theatre to cheer Éric Zemmour, a Parisian Jewish intellectual, author and television

Don’t underestimate Barnier

No one really expects Michel Barnier to be chosen as the Républicains’s candidate for the French presidency. Success in Brussels does not make it easier to win at home. The most famous example of this rule is Martin Schulz, who returned from a long career in Brussels to become German SPD leader and chancellor candidate in 2017. He was seen as a political curiosity partly because he was unknown. But he couldn’t keep up the momentum after German voters saw him on the domestic stage. Brussels insiders become detached from what’s going on at home. It is much easier to go to Brussels than it is to come back. But don’t write

Eric Zemmour is eating Marine Le Pen alive

French opinion polls are best taken with a generous bucket of sel de Guérande but this evening’s drop of a Harris Interactive survey of intentions to vote in the 2022 presidential election might genuinely be described as explosive. This poll contains the crucial assumption that Xavier Bertrand will emerge as the candidate of the centre-right Les Républicains, but it nevertheless suggests that trends are moving in unpredicted directions. Bertrand is currently only marginally ahead of Eric Zemmour, whose insurgent campaign from the right is starting to profoundly unsettle the conventional wisdom. If Zemmour, who still hasn’t officially announced his candidacy, continues to climb and Marine Le Pen to decline, something extraordinary

Hidalgo has trashed Paris. Can she do the same for France?

Anne Hidalgo, the socialist mayor of Paris, whose reign has submerged the city in debt and rubbish, is the latest no-hoper to declare her candidacy for the 2022 presidential election. She’s in fifth place in the polls, although these are rarely credible at this stage and currently ignore several candidates for reasons that seem obscure. Hidalgo, the daughter of Spanish immigrants, is to run on a platform of social justice. She says she is doing so with humility, although this is not a characteristic that has so far been evident in her personality. Ruthless ambition comes closer.  It is rather obvious that Hidalgo has zero chance of finishing in the top two

France’s provocateur is coming to London

Five years ago, London’s affluent French poured their dosh into the campaign of Emmanuel Macron. This time around, supporters of France’s rising provocateur are trying a similar tactic. Eric Zemmour is the Tucker Carlson of French media. A potential rival to Marine Le Pen, he is planning a visit to London in October. His undeclared but badly concealed French presidential campaign has the backing of ‘Generation Z’, a shadowy group of French political consultants and fundraisers, who are looking at the monied expatriates of South Kensington and seeing potential campaign money. If Macron’s people aren’t spooked by Zemmour, they aren’t acting like it I profiled Zemmour in the magazine in

Le Pen is just another establishment politician

One Saturday in March, I attended an anti-lockdown rally in central Paris. I was there partly out of journalistic curiosity but also out of solidarity with those Frenchmen and women who believed it was high time life returned to normal. What struck me was the similarity between the protestors and those I had walked with in 2018 in the early weeks of the yellow vest movement in Paris — overwhelmingly middle-aged blue-collar workers. The yellow vests famously had no leader because it was a protest movement that arose not out of any strong political conviction but from what the French call ras-le-bol: despair at what was perceived as an arrogant

Is Marine Le Pen’s presidential bid doomed?

Nothing went as predicted in France’s regional elections. Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National did not win a single region and Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche failed to grow roots in local government, or even act as a kingmaker. All incumbent regional candidates were re-elected, sometimes with quite a comfortable margin. Does this mean we are back to the good old left-right divide in French politics? Regional elections are not national elections, of course. Abstention reached a record high in this election and voters from RN and LREM have shunned the regional vote more than left-wing and conservative voters. Still, those regional elections challenge two important narratives that Macron had

Jonathan Miller

The electoral humiliation of Macron and Le Pen

Five years ago, Emmanuel Macron was ‘en marche’ to his improbable ascent to the presidency of France. Last night, having united France against him, the certitude that he will be re-elected in 270 days has evaporated. Results of the second round of regional elections can only be described as a disaster for the President. His bespoke political party, La République en Marche, has collapsed. And worse, his preferred presidential opponent, Marine Le Pen, lost any remaining credibility as a serious alternative. That could leave him facing a traditional conservative next year – one who might not be eliminated in advance, as François Fillon was last time, by a convenient criminal

Marine Le Pen wages war on a French rap star

‘Dans ce rêve où ma semence de nègre fout en cloque cette chienne de Marine Le Pen.’ You don’t have to speak fluent French to get the feeling that the French-Congolese rapper Youssoupha didn’t entirely rate Marine Le Pen in his song, ‘Éternel recommencement’. In fact, he doesn’t rate quite a few journalists and politicians in France. But what is rap for, if not to critique the establishment? That must have been the reasoning of the Federation Francaise de Football (FFF) when it chose Youssoupha’s recent tune, ‘Ecris mon nom en bleu’ (Write my name in blue) as the anthem for the French football team ahead of this month’s European

France’s military wages war on Macron’s values

On 21 April 1961 France’s most senior generals staged a putsch in French Algiers, still an integral part of France. The military coup was in reaction to the policies of the president of the Republic, General de Gaulle, and his belated decision to abandon Algeria to independence. The generals felt this betrayed their honour and that of their fallen comrades after seven years of a bloody war against Algerian ‘terrorists’ to keep Algeria French. Fast forward sixty years to 21 April 2021. Twenty retired generals (some four-star), a hundred mostly retired senior officers and a thousand military personnel signed a chilling letter in the right-wing French weekly Valeurs actuelles addressed