Marine Le Pen is elected as leader of France’s National Front party
Elected over a week ago with 68% of the vote, Marine has been a member of the FN since the age of 18, supporting her father through his numerous presidential election campaigns. However, does this change in leader mean a change in party attitudes?
Her father was well-known for his strongly xenophobic comments, trivialising the holocaust by describing it as a ‘detail’ of the Second World War. It appears that Marine is choosing to adopt a less xenophobic stance in comparison to her father by distancing herself from comments like the one above. Her more liberal stance on other issues such as homosexuality and abortion is an indication of the party’s shift to the centre to broaden its appeal amongst the French electorate.
Even so, Marine still bears several similarities with her predecessor, with strong anti-Europe and anti-immigration views. She has also spoken out against what she describes as the ‘Islamisation’ of society in France, evident from a comment she made at a rally in Lyon where she likened Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation.
The latest polls have Marine on course for coming third in the 2012 presidential elections with 16.5- 18% of the vote. This is not surprising when one considers the general move French politics has been making to the right, with the recent law banning the burka and deportations of Roma people.
One also should not rule out the possibility of a coalition between the FN and President Nicholas Sarkozy’s party, Union for a Popular Movement, an option favoured by more than 40% of the latter’s supporters.
The face of far-right politics is changing in more ways than one; this new leader though with more moderate yet still extreme attitudes could prove to be dangerous.
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