Marine Le Pen

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Marine Le Pen
MEP
Le Pen, Marine-9586.jpg
Member of the European Parliament
Assumed office
14 July 2009
Constituency North-West France
In office
20 July 2004 – 13 July 2009
Constituency Île-de-France
Regional Councillor
Assumed office
26 March 2010
Constituency Nord-Pas-de-Calais
In office
28 March 2004 – 21 March 2010
Constituency Île-de-France
In office
15 March 1998 – 28 March 2004
Constituency Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Leader of the National Front
In office
16 January 2011 – 24 April 2017
Preceded by Jean-Marie Le Pen
Succeeded by Jean-François Jalkh (interim)
Municipal councillor
In office
23 March 2008 – 24 February 2011
Constituency Hénin-Beaumont
Personal details
Born Marion Anne Perrine Le Pen
(1968-08-05) 5 August 1968 (age 48)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Political party National Front (1986–present)
Spouse(s) Franck Chauffroy (m. 1995; div. 2000)
Eric Lorio (m. 2002; div. 2006)
Domestic partner Louis Aliot (2009–present)
Relations Jean-Marie Le Pen (father)
Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (niece)
Children 3
Alma mater Panthéon-Assas University
Signature Marine Le Pen's signature
Website Official campaign website

Marion Anne Perrine "Marine" Le Pen (French: [maʁin ləpɛn]; born 5 August 1968) is a French politician and lawyer. A former president of the French National Front (French: Front national; FN), a far-right political party in France, she is the youngest daughter of party founder Jean-Marie and the aunt of FN MP Marion Maréchal-Le Pen.

Le Pen joined the FN in 1986 and was elected as a regional councillor (1998–present), a Member of European Parliament (2004–present), and a municipal councillor in Hénin-Beaumont (2008–2011). She won the leadership of the FN in 2011 with 67.65% (11,546 votes) of the vote, defeating Bruno Gollnisch and succeeding her father, who had been president of the party since he founded it in 1972.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] In 2012, she placed third in the presidential election with 17.90% of the vote, behind François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.[8][9][10][11] She launched a second bid for the 2017 presidential election, which took place in April 2017. She finished second in the first round of the election, with 21.30% of the vote, and faced Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! in the second round of voting. On 7 May 2017, she conceded after receiving approximately 34.5% of the vote in the second round.[12]

Described as more democratic and republican than her nationalist father, Le Pen has led a movement of "de-demonization of the National Front" to detoxify and soften its image, based on renovated positions and renewed teams, also expelling controversial members accused of racism, antisemitism, or pétainism. She expelled her father from the party on 20 August 2015 after he made new controversial statements.[13][14] She has also relaxed some political positions of the party, advocating for civil unions for same-sex couples instead of her party's previous opposition to legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, accepting unconditional abortion and withdrawing the death penalty from her platform.[15][16][17][18]

Le Pen was ranked among the most influential people in 2011 and 2015 by the Time 100.[19][20] In 2016, she was ranked by Politico as the second-most influential MEP in the European Parliament, just behind its President Martin Schulz.[21]

Early life and education

Childhood

Marion Anne Perrine Le Pen was born on 5 August 1968 in Neuilly-sur-Seine,[22] the youngest of three daughters of Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Breton politician and former paratrooper, and his first wife Pierrette Lalanne. She was baptized 25 April 1969, at La Madeleine by Father Pohpot. Her godfather was Henri Botey, a relative of her father.

She has two sisters: Yann and Marie Caroline. In 1976, when Marine was eight, a bomb meant for her father exploded in the stairwell outside the family's apartment as they slept.[23] The blast ripped a hole in the outside wall of the building, but Marine, her two older sisters and their parents were unharmed.[24]

She was a student at the Lycée Florent Schmitt in Saint-Cloud. Her mother left the family in 1984, when Marine was 16. Le Pen wrote in her autobiography that the effect was "the most awful, cruel, crushing of pains of the heart: my mother did not love me."[25] Her parents divorced in 1987.[26][27]

Legal studies and work

Le Pen studied law at Panthéon-Assas University, graduating with a Master of Laws in 1991 and a Master of Advanced Studies (DEA) in criminal law in 1992.[28] Registered at the Paris bar association, she worked as a lawyer for six years (1992–1998),[28] appearing regularly before the criminal chamber of the 23rd District Court of Paris which judges immediate appearances, and often acting as a public defender. She was a member of the Bar of Paris until 1998, when she joined the legal department of the National Front.

Personal life

Le Pen was raised Roman Catholic.[29] In 1995 she married Franck Chauffroy, a business executive who worked for the National Front. She has three children with Chauffroy (Jehanne, Louis, and Mathilde).[26] After her divorce from Chauffroy in 2000, she married Eric Lorio in 2002, the former national secretary of the National Front and a former adviser to the Regional election in Nord-Pas-de-Calais. They divorced in 2006.

Since 2009, she has been in a relationship with Louis Aliot, who is of ethnic French Pied-Noir and Algerian Jewish heritage.[30] He was the National Front general secretary from 2005 to 2010, then the National Front vice president who was in charge of the Project.[31] She spends most of her time in Saint-Cloud, and has lived in La Celle-Saint-Cloud with her three children since September 2014. She has an apartment in Hénin-Beaumont. In 2010, she also bought a house with Aliot in Millas.[32]

Early political career

1986–2010: Rise within the National Front:

Marine Le Pen joined the FN in 1986 at the age of 18. In 1998, she acquired her first political mandate when she was elected regional councillor in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais. In the same year she joined the FN's juridical branch, which she led until 2003.

In 2000, she became president of Generations Le Pen, a loose association close to the party aimed at "de-demonizing the Front National".[26]

She became a member the FN Executive Committee (French: bureau politique) in 2000, and vice-president of the FN in 2003.[26] In 2006 she managed the presidential campaign of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. In 2007, she became one of the two executive vice-presidents of the FN, with responsibility for training, communication and publicity.[28]

2010–11: Leadership campaign

Early in 2010, Le Pen expressed her intention to run for leader of the FN, saying that she hoped to make the party "a big popular party that addresses itself not only to the electorate on the right but to all the French people".[3]

On 3 September 2010, she launched her leadership campaign at Cuers, Var.[33] During a meeting in Paris on 14 November 2010, she said that her goal was "not only to assemble our political family. It consists of shaping the Front National as the center of grouping of the whole French people", adding that in her view the FN leader should be the party's candidate in the 2012 presidential election.[34] She spent four months campaigning for the FN leadership, holding meetings with FN members in 51 departments.[35] All the other departments were visited by one of her official supporters.[36] During her final meeting of the campaign in Hénin-Beaumont on 19 December 2010, she claimed that the FN would present the real debate of the next presidential campaign.[37][38] Her candidacy was endorsed by a majority of senior figures in the party,[36] including Jean-Marie Le Pen, her father and the founder of the party.[39][40]

On several occasions through her campaign she ruled out any political alliance with the Union for a Popular Movement.[41][42] She also distanced herself from some of Jean-Marie Le Pen's most controversial statements,[43] such as those relating to war-crimes, which was reported in the media as attempts to improve the party's image. While her father had attracted controversy by saying that the gas chambers were "a detail of the history of World War II", she described them as "the height of barbarism".[44][45]

In December 2010 and early January 2011, FN members voted by post to elect their new president and the members of the Central Committee. The party held a congress at Tours on 15–16 January 2011.[46] On 16 January 2011, Marine Le Pen was elected as the new president of the FN with 67.65% of the vote (11,546 votes to 5,522 for Bruno Gollnisch),[28][47] and Jean-Marie Le Pen became honorary chairman.

Controversy

Marine Le Pen received substantial media attention during the campaign as a result of comments, made during a speech to party members in Lyon on 10 December 2010, in which she compared the blocking of public streets and squares in French cities (in particular rue Myrha in the 18th arrondissement of Paris) for Muslim prayers with the Nazi occupation of France. Her exact words were:

For those who want to talk a lot about World War II, if it's about occupation, then we could also talk about it (Muslim prayers in the streets), because that is occupation of territory ... It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of districts in which religious laws apply ... There are of course no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is nevertheless an occupation and it weighs heavily on local residents.[48]

Her comments were widely criticised by media commentators across the political spectrum.[49][50][51][52][53][54][55] The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF),[56] the French Council of Muslim Faith (CFCM)[57] and the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA)[58] condemned her statement, and groups including MRAP[59] and the French Human Rights League (LDH)[60] declared their intention to lodge a formal complaint. The imam of the Great Mosque of Paris and former president of the CFCM, Dalil Boubakeur, commented that though her parallel was questionable and to be condemned, she had asked a valid question.[61]

A member of the FN's Executive Committee, Louis Aliot, criticised "the attempted manipulation of opinion by communitarian groups and those really responsible for the current situation in France".[62] On 13 December 2010, Le Pen reasserted her statement during a press conference at the FN headquarters in Nanterre.[63][64][65] After Jean-François Kahn's comments on BFM TV on 13 December 2010, she accused the Élysée Palace of organising "state manipulation" with the intention of demonizing her in public opinion.[66][67]

On 15 December 2015, a Lyon court acquitted her of "inciting hatred", ruling that her statement "did not target all of the Muslim community" and was protected "as a part of freedom of expression".[68]

Leadership of the National Front

De-demonization of the FN

From a general point of view, Marine Le Pen is often judged more moderate than her father. A part of the French electorate considers her positions more nuanced, polished and detoxified than Jean-Marie Le Pen's "provocations". Her smiling, calm image contrasts with much of the stereotypes generally attributed to her political family.[69] At the beginning of her media rise, she often talked about her particular treatment as the daughter of "Le Pen" and of the 1976 attack (then the biggest bomb explosion in France since World War II).[69][70] It has been seen as a way to humanize her party.[69][71]

Marine Le Pen in the traditional Jeanne d'Arc march, 3 May 2007

For example, Bernard-Henri Lévy, a strong opponent of the FN, talked about "a far-right with a human face".[72] Journalist Michèle Cotta claims that the fact she is a young woman condemning racism and refusing her father's "faults" (notably his enjoyment of shocking other people) contributed to her strategy of de-demonization of the National Front.[73] References to World War II or to the French colonial wars are absent from her speeches, which is often looked on as a generation gap.[74] She distanced herself from her father on the gas chambers he famously called "a detail in the history of World War II", saying that she "didn't share the same vision of these events".[75] L'Express wrote that the expulsion of Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2015 was the completion of her endeavour. The opponents of the FN denounce it as a more dangerous strategy because of its evident success.[76]

In a 2010 RTL interview, Le Pen stated that her strategy was not about changing the FN's program but about showing it as it really is, instead of the image given to it by the media in the previous decades. The media and her political adversaries are accused of spreading an "unfair, wrong and caricatural" image of the National Front. She refuses the qualification of far-right or extreme-right, considering it a "pejorative" term : "How am I party of the extreme right? ... I don't think that our propositions are extreme propositions, whatever the subject".[77] However, the radical far-right (e.g., Minute, Rivarol, Patrick Buisson, Henry de Lesquen) reproached her for abandoning or softening her stances on immigration, gay marriage and abortion. In her speech in Lyon on 10 December 2010, she mentioned the fate of gays living in difficult neighbourhoods, victims of religious laws replacing the republican law.[78][79][80]

In 2014, the American magazine Foreign Policy mentioned her, along with four other French people, in its list of the 100 global thinkers of the year, underlining the way she "renovated the image" of her party, which had became a model for other right-wing parties in Europe after her success in the European elections.[81] At a European level, she stopped the alliance built by her father with some right-wing extremist parties and refused to be part of a group with the radical Jobbik or the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. Her transnational allies share the fact that they have officially condemned antisemitism, accepted a more liberal approach toward social matters, and are sometimes pro-Israel such as the Dutch PVV. French historian Nicolas Lebourg concluded that she is looked upon as a compass for them to follow while maintaining local particularities.[82][83]

For a long time, she has been reluctant to endorse Donald Trump, while other European populists had already embraced his candidacy, and only supported him by saying: "For France, anything is better than Hillary Clinton". However, on 8 November 2016 she posted a tweet congratulating Trump on his presidential victory.[84] Nevertheless, her strategy has difficulties as her image seems to remain controversial: Germany's Angela Merkel has said she "will contribute to make other political forces stronger than the National Front" and Israel still holds a bad opinion of her party.[85][86] Nigel Farage has said: "I've never said a bad word about Marine Le Pen; I've never said a good word about her party".[87]

Her social program and her support of SYRIZA in the 2015 Greek general elections have led Nicolas Sarkozy to declare her a far-left politician sharing some of Jean-Luc Mélenchon's propositions. President François Hollande said she was talking "like a leaflet of the Communist Party". Eric Zemmour, journalist for the conservative newspaper Le Figaro, wrote during the 2012 presidential election that the FN had become a left-wing party under the influence of adviser Florian Philippot. She has also relaxed some political positions of the party, advocating for civil unions for same-sex couples instead of her party's previous opposition to legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, accepting unconditional abortion, and withdrawing the death penalty from her platform.[88][89][15][16][17][18]

First steps as a new leader: 2011

File:Banquet des Mille salle equinoxe public.jpg
Supporters of Marine Le Pen in 2011

As a president of the Front National, Marine Le Pen currently sits as an ex officio member among the FN Executive Office (8 members),[90] the Executive Committee (42 members)[91] and the Central Committee (3 ex officio members, 100 elected members, 20 co-opted members).[92]

During her opening speech in Tours on 16 January 2011, she advocated to "restore the political framework of the national community" and to implement the direct democracy which enables the "civic responsibility and the collective tie" thanks to the participation of public-spirited citizens for the decisions. The predominant political theme was the uncompromising defence of a protective and efficient State, which favours secularism, prosperity and liberties. She also denounced the "Europe of Brussels" which "everywhere imposed the destructive principles of ultra-liberalism and free trade, at the expense of public utilities, employment, social equity and even our economic growth which became within twenty years the weakest of the world".[93]

After the traditional Joan of Arc and Labor Day march in Paris on 1 May 2011, she gave her first speech in front of 3000 supporters.[94][95] On 11 August 2011, she held an exceptional press conference about the current systemic crisis.[96]

On 10 and 11 September 2011, she made her political comeback with the title "the voice of people, the spirit of France" in the convention center of Acropolis in Nice.[97] During her closing speech on 11 September 2011, she tackled the audience about immigration, insecurity, the economic and social situation, reindustrialization and 'strong state'.[98]

During a demonstration held in front of the Senate on 8 December 2011, she expressed during a speech her "firm and absolute opposition" to the right of foreigners to vote.[99]

She regularly holds thematic press conferences[100] and interventions[101] on varied issues in French, European and international politics.

First presidential candidacy: 2011–12

Le Pen sings "La Marseillaise" at the conclusion of the presentation of her presidential project held in Paris on 19 November 2011.
Le Pen presents her presidential project on 19 November 2011 in Paris.

Marine Le Pen stood in the 2012 French presidential election. On 16 May 2011, her presidential candidacy was unanimously validated by the FN Executive Committee.[102] On 10 and 11 September 2011, her political comeback in Nice prefigured the launching of her presidential campaign.[98] During a press conference on 6 October 2011, she officially unveiled the line-up of her presidential campaign team.[103]

On 19 November 2011, she presented in Paris the main thematic issues of her presidential project: sovereignty of the people and democracy, Europe, reindustrialization and strong state, family and education, immigration and assimilation versus communitarianism, geopolitics and international politics.[104][105][106] During a press conference held on 12 January 2012,[107] she presented in detail the assessment of her presidential project[108] and a plan of debt paydown of France.[109] During a press conference held on 1 February 2012, she presented an outline of her presidential project for the overseas departments and territories of France.[110] Many observers have noticed her tendency to focus on economic and social subjects such as globalization and delocalisations, instead of immigration or law and order which have been the paramount platform of the FN in previous decades.

On 11 December 2011, she held her first presidential meeting in Metz.[111][112] From early January to mid April 2012, she held weekly meetings in the major French cities. On 17 April 2012, between 6,000 and 7,000 people took part in her final meeting organized at the Zenith in Paris.[113][114]

On 13 March 2012, she publicly announced that she had the 500 necessary signatures to take part in the presidential election.[115][116] On 19 March 2012, the Constitutional Council officially validated her candidature and those of nine other competitors.[8]

On 22 April 2012, she polled 17.90% (6,421,426 votes) in the first round and finished in third position behind François Hollande and incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy.[9][10][11] Her national results were higher in percentage and votes than those of Jean-Marie Le Pen in the 2002 presidential election (16.86%, 4,804,772 votes in the first round; 17.79%, 5,525,034 votes in the run-off).[117]

Marine Le Pen in her presidential campaign, on 15 April 2012.
First round results: candidates with the most votes by departments (mainland France, overseas and French citizens living abroad). Marine Le Pen came first in Gard.

She was ahead in Gard (25.51%, 106,646 votes) whereas Sarkozy and Hollande respectively polled 24.86% (103,927 votes) and 24.11% (100,778 votes).[10][118] She came first in her municipal stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont (35.48%, 4,924 votes) whereas Hollande and Sarkozy respectively polled 26.82% (3,723 votes) and 15.76% (2,187 votes).[119] She globally achieved her highest results east of a line from Le Havre in the north to Perpignan in the south.[120] In contrast, she globally polled less in western France, especially big cities such as Paris, overseas and among the French citizens living abroad (5.95%, 23,995 votes).[121] However, she got significative results in two rural departments in western France such as Orne (20.00%, 34,757 votes)[122] and Sarthe (19.17%, 62,516 votes).[123]

She achieved her highest regional result in Picardy (25.03%, 266,041 votes),[124] her highest departmental result in Vaucluse (27.03%, 84,585 votes),[125] and her highest overseas result in Saint Pierre and Miquelon (15.81%, 416 votes).[126]

In addition to Picardy, she also polled over 20% in ten other regions: Corsica (24.39%, 39,209 votes),[127] Champagne-Ardenne (23.91%, 172,632 votes),[128] Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (23.87%, 650,336 votes),[129] Lorraine (23.66%, 308,392 votes),[130] Languedoc-Roussillon (23.45%, 363,880 votes),[131] Nord-Pas-de-Calais (23.29%, 517,115 votes),[132] Alsace (22.12%, 219,252 votes),[133] Franche-Comté (21.29%, 141,972 votes),[134] Burgundy (20.36%, 191,148 votes),[135] and Upper Normandy (20.15%, 207,520 votes).[136] In addition to Vaucluse, she also polled over 25% in nine other departments: Aisne (26.33%, 78,452 votes),[137] Meuse (25.82%, 29,038 votes),[138] Corse-du-Sud (25.71%, 19,081 votes),[139] Pas-de-Calais (25.53%, 216,753 votes),[140] Gard (25.51%, 106,646 votes),[118] Haute-Marne (25.26%, 27,624 votes),[141] Aube (25.12%, 40,740 votes),[142] Haute-Saône (25.12%, 36,807 votes),[143] and Oise (25.08%, 109,339 votes).[144] In addition to Saint Pierre and Miquelon, she also polled over 10% in the Collectivity of Saint Martin (12.51%, 665 votes),[145] in New Caledonia (11.66%, 10,409 votes),[146] in Saint Barthélemy (11.41%, 310 votes),[147] in French Guiana (10.48%, 3,920 votes)[148] and in Réunion (10.31%, 37,549 votes).[149]

First round results: candidates with the most votes by municipalities in metropolitan France (dark gray: Marine Le Pen)

She achieved her lowest regional result in Île-de-France (12.28%, 655,926 votes),[150] her lowest departmental result in Paris (6.20%, 61,503 votes),[151] and her lowest overseas result in Wallis and Futuna (2.37%, 152 votes).[152]

In addition to Île-de-France, she polled less than 15% in Brittany (13.24%, 262,095 votes)[153] and in Pays de la Loire (14.39%, 308,806 votes).[154] In addition to Paris, she polled less than 10% in Hauts-de-Seine (8.51%, 62,447 votes).[155] In addition to Wallis and Futuna, she polled less than 5% in Mayotte (2.77%, 996 votes)[156] and in Martinique (4.76%, 6,960 votes).[157]

A French sociologist, Sylvain Crépon, who analysed the social and occupational groups of the FN voters in 2012, explained: "The FN vote is made up of the victims of globalisation. It is the small shopkeepers who are going under because of the economic crisis and competition from the out-of-town hypermarkets; it is low-paid workers from the private sector; the unemployed. The FN scores well among people living in poverty, who have a real fear about how to make ends meet."[120] Crépon also analysed the increase of the FN vote in "rural" areas and the recent sociological changes in these areas made up of small provincial towns and new housing-estate commuter belts built on the distant outskirts of the cities: "The rural underclass is no longer agricultural. It is people who have fled the big cities and the inner suburbs because they can no longer afford to live there. Many of these people will have had recent experience of living in the banlieues (high immigration suburbs) – and have had contact with the problems of insecurity."[120] Commentators also pointed that there were more young people and women voting for the party in 2012.[120]

During a speech delivered in Paris on 1 May 2012 after the traditional Joan of Arc and Labor Day march, she refused to back either incumbent president Sarkozy or socialist Hollande in the run-off on 6 May. Addressing the party's annual rally at Place de l'Opéra, she vowed to cast a blank ballot and told her supporters to vote with their conscience, saying: "Hollande and Sarkozy – neither of them will save you. On Sunday I will cast a blank protest vote. I have made my choice. Each of you will make yours." Accusing both candidates of surrendering to Europe and financial markets, she asked: "Who between Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy will impose the austerity plan in the most servile way? Who will submit the best to the instructions of the IMF, the ECB or the European Commission?"[158]

Electoral progression: 2012–16

In the wake of her success, she announced the foundation of the "Blue Marine Gathering", an electoral coalition dedicated to the June parliamentary elections. Herself a candidate in the Pas-de-Calais' 11th constituency, she collected 42.36% of the vote, far before the Socialist representative Philippe Kemel (23.50%) and her far-left rival Jean-Luc Mélenchon (21.48%). She was beaten in the second round with 49.86%. She filed an appeal rejected by the constitutional Council which however recognized some proven deceptions. Nationally, her party has only elected two lawmakers: her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen and Gilbert Collard.

In 2014, she led her party to other success in the municipal and senatorial elections: eleven mayors and two senators were elected. It was the first time the National Front entered in France's upper chamber.

On 24 May 2014, the National Front won the European election in France with 24.90% of the vote. Marine Le Pen came in first place in her North-West constituency with a score of 33.60%. 25 FN members were sent to the European Parliament of Strasbourg. They voted against the Juncker Commission in July. One year later, she was able to announce the formation of a group composed of the French National Front, the Freedom Party of Austria, the Italian Lega Nord, the Dutch Party for Freedom, the Polish Congress of the New Right, the Flemish Vlaams Belang and former UKIP member Janice Atkinson. Her first attempt to constitute this group in 2014 failed because of the UKIP refusal and some controversial statements of her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in June. Le Pen sat in the commission for international trade. In 2016, Politico ranked her as the second most influential MEP after Martin Schulz.

In April 2015, her father provoked a political crisis in the National Front because of two interviews he gave. Controversial statements included his opinion on World War II and on minorities in France. Marine Le Pen organized a postal vote to ask the FN members to change the statutes of the party in order to expel her father. Le Pen père pursued his movement and the justice canceled the vote. On 25 August, the FN executive office voted to expel him from the party he had founded forty years earlier. Many observers noticed Marine's dependence on her closest advisor, Florian Philippot, a former left-wing technocrat. A national purge expelled the members refusing the evolution of the FN under Marine Le Pen's leadership.

She tardily announced her candidacy for the presidency of the regional council of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie for the 2015 regional elections. She regretted the proximity with the next presidential election. On 6 December, she came in first with 40.6% of the vote, but the Socialist candidate (third with 18.12%) withdrew and called to vote for her right-wing opponent Xavier Bertrand who won by 57.80% of the vote. Her niece Marion also lost, but got a better result than her.

Second presidential candidacy: 2016–17

File:Marine Présidente 2017.png
Marine Le Pen's 2017 campaign logo

Excepting the candidates for the center-right primary, Marine Le Pen was the first to announce her candidacy for the 2017 French presidential election on 8 April 2016. She consistently maintained high popularity in polling figures. She has appointed David Rachline, a young FN member of the Senate, as her campaign manager. The FN had difficulties finding funding because of the opposition of every French bank to her political platform. This led to the National Front borrowing €9 million from the First Czech-Russian bank in Moscow in 2014, even as the E.U. placed sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea. In February 2016, the FN asked Russia for another loan, this time in the amount of €27 million. The loan has not materialized.[159]

Most political analysts notice her strong position because of the absence of a primary in her party (consolidating her leadership), of the news such as the migrants crisis or the terrorist attacks in France (reinforcing her political positions) and of the very right-wing campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy in the Republican primary (enlarging her themes). In a 2016 interview with the BBC, Le Pen stated that Donald Trump's presidential victory will, in fact, help her in the 2016–2017 presidential race. In her opinion, Mr. Trump has "made possible what had previously been presented as impossible".[160] However, she stated she would not officially launch her campaign before February 2017, waiting for the results of the Republican and Socialist primaries, and preferred to remain silent in the media and usher thematic think tanks dedicated to the elaboration of her program. In consequence, her rare media appearances attract consistent audiences (2.3 million viewers for Vie politique on TF1 on 11 September 2016 and 4 million for Une ambition intime on M6 on 16 October).

The communication of her party also attracts media attention: a new Mitterrand-inspired poster showing her in a rural landscape with the slogan "Appeased France" is an attempt to respond to surveys indicating she remains somewhat controversial for an important part of the French electorate. But the mockeries sparked by this poster led to a change of slogan: "In the name of the people". Others have noticed the disappearance of the FN logo and of the name Le Pen on the campaign's posters.

She officially launched her candidacy on 4 and 5 February 2017 in Lyon. Le Pen promised a referendum in which the nation would decide whether to withdraw from the European Union if she could not achieve France's territorial, monetary, economic and legislative goals in a six-month renegotiation with the EU. Her first appearance on TV four days later generated the highest viewing figures of France 2 since the previous presidential election (16.70% with 3.7 million telespectators).[161]

On 2 March 2017, the European Parliament voted to revoke Le Pen's immunity from prosecution for tweeting violent imagery. Le Pen had tweeted an image of beheaded journalist James Foley in December 2015. She took down the tweet following a request from Foley's family. In an unrelated case, Le Pen faces prosecution for allegedly spending European Union Parliament funds on her own political party; the lifting of her immunity from prosecution does not apply to the ongoing investigation into the misuse of parliamentary funds by the FN.[162]

File:Marine Le Pen and Vladimir Putin (2017-03-24) 02.jpg
Marine Le Pen and Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 24 March 2017

Le Pen has met with several incumbent heads of state including Lebanon's Michel Aoun,[163] Chad's Idriss Déby,[164] and Russia's Vladimir Putin.[165]

The ground floor of the building which housed Le Pen's campaign headquarters was targeted by an arson attempt during the early morning of 13 April 2017.[166][167]

In 2017, Le Pen argued that France as a nation bore no responsibility for the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, a part of the Holocaust in which Paris policemen arrested Jewish citizens for deportation to Auschwitz. She repeated a Gaullist thesis according to which France was not represented by the Vichy regime but by General de Gaulle's Free France.[168]

On 20 April 2017, in the wake of a shooting targeting police officers that was treated as a suspected terrorist attack, Le Pen cancelled a planned campaign event. The next day, she called for the closure of all "extremist" mosques, a remark that received criticism from the French Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, who accused her of attempting to "capitalize" on the incident. She also called for the expulsion of hate preachers and people on the French security services' watch list, and the revocation of their citizenship. The Guardian noted that the attack may serve as "ammunition" for right-wing candidates in the election, such as Le Pen.[169][170][171]

On 21 April 2017, United States President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that the shooting would have "a big effect on presidential election."[172] Later on the same day, Trump stated that Le Pen was the "strongest on borders, and she's the strongest on what's been going on in France."[173] On the other hand, former U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his support for Macron in a phone call to him.[174]

Results of the first round of the 2017 presidential election. Departments in which Le Pen received the largest share of the vote are shaded dark blue.

Le Pen won 21.3% of the vote (7.7 million votes) in the first round of the election on 23 April 2017, placing her second behind Macron, who got 24.0%.[175] She will face Macron in the run-off on 7 May.

On 24 April 2017, a day after the first round, Le Pen announced that she would temporarily step down as the leader of the National Front in an attempt to unite voters.[176] "The President of the Republic is the president of all the French people, they must bring them all together," she said.[177]

On 1 May 2017, a video emerged of Le Pen copying sections of a speech by Francois Fillon word for word in one of her speeches.[178]

After receiving about 34.5% of the vote in the second round, Le Pen conceded to Emmanuel Macron on 7 May 2017.[179]

Political positions

Marine Le Pen contends that the FN's immigration programme is better known among the voters; she has thus concentrated on the party's economic and social programme.[180][181]

Described as more democratic and republican than her nationalist father Jean-Marie Le Pen, the previous leader of the FN, she has attempted to detoxify and soften its image, based on reformulated policy positions, and has relaxed some political positions of the party, advocating for civil unions for same-sex couples instead of her party's previous opposition to legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, accepting unconditional abortion and withdrawing the death penalty from her platform.[15][16][17][18]

On economic policy, Le Pen favours protectionism as an alternative to free trade.[34] She supports economic nationalism,[182] the separation of investment and retail banking,[183] and energy diversification,[184] and is opposed to the privatization of public services and social security,[185][186][187] speculation on international commodity markets,[185] and the Common Agricultural Policy.[188]

Le Pen is opposed to globalization, which she blames for various negative economic trends, and opposes European Union supranationalism and federalism, instead favouring a loosely confederate 'Europe of the Nations'.[189] She has called for France to leave the Eurozone,[190] and a referendum on France leaving the EU.[191] She has been a vocal opponent of the Treaty of Lisbon,[192] and opposes EU membership for Turkey and Ukraine.[193][194] Le Pen has pledged to take France out of NATO and the US sphere of influence.[195] She proposes the replacement of the World Trade Organisation,[196][197] and the abolition of the International Monetary Fund.[198]

Le Pen and the NF believe that multiculturalism has failed,[199] and argue for the "de-Islamisation" of French society.[200] Le Pen has called for a moratorium on legal immigration.[201] She would repeal laws allowing illegal immigrants to become legal residents,[98] and argues for benefits provided to immigrants to be reduced to remove incentives for new immigrants.[202] Following the beginning of the Arab Spring and the European migrant crisis, she called for France to withdraw from the Schengen Area and reinstate border controls.[203][204]

On foreign policy, Le Pen supports the establishment of a privileged partnership with Russia,[195] and believes that Ukraine has been "subjugated" by the United States.[205] She is strongly critical of NATO policy in the region, Eastern European anti-Russian sentiment,[205] and threats of economic sanctions.[194]

Media image

National media

Her appearances on television and radio have played an important role in her political rise, and her political activities are regularly covered in the French media.[206][207][208][209][210]

During an appearance on the programme Mots croisés (Crossed Words) on France 2 on 5 October 2009,[211] Marine Le Pen quoted sections of Frédéric Mitterrand's autobiographical novel The Bad Life, accusing him of having sex with underage boys and engaging in "sex tourism", and demanding his resignation as Minister of Culture.[212][213][214][215] According to French political commentator Jérôme Fourquet, Le Pen broke through as a result of the Mitterrand case and achieved media ascendancy.[216]

Le Pen appeared several times on À vous de juger (You Be The Judge), a political discussion show on France 2 hosted by journalist and commentator Arlette Chabot. In her first appearance as a guest, on 14 January 2010, Marine Le Pen appeared opposite Éric Besson, Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Mutually Supportive Development.[217]

File:Marine Le Pen.jpg
Marine Le Pen in 2008

In her first appearance as a main guest on 9 December 2010, she was questioned on economic, social and immigration issues by Arlette Chabot and political commentator Alain Duhamel, then took park in debates, first with the socialist mayor of Évry Manuel Valls and then Rachida Dati, Minister of Justice.[218] The broadcast was viewed by 3,356,000 viewers (14.6% of the televised audience),[219] which represented the highest viewing figures for 2010 and the fourth highest since the series began in September 2005.[220]

In December 2010, French journalist Guillaume Tabard described her as the "revelation of the year", and as "first an electoral phenomenon" and "a media phenomenon after".[221]

À vous de juger was replaced on France 2 by Des paroles et des actes (Words and Acts), hosted by journalist and anchorman David Pujadas. In her first appearance as a main guest on 23 June 2011, Le Pen appeared opposite Cécile Duflot, national secretary of the Greens.[222][223] The broadcast was viewed by 3,582,000 viewers, which represented 15.1% of the televised audience.[224][225]

Le Pen has also appeared on Parole directe (Direct Speech) on TF1, hosted by Laurence Ferrari and political commentator François Bachy. Her first appearance as a sole guest on 15 September 2011 was viewed by an average of 6 million viewers (23.3% of the televised audience) with a peak of 7.3 million in the second half of the programme.[226][227]

International media

Le Pen has also appeared on several occasions in the news media of other European countries,[27][228][229][230] Russia,[231][232] the Middle East,[233][234] and the United States.[235][236][237] She appeared on Quebec web-radio station Rockik in December 2008,[238] the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Canada) in May 2010,[239] and the Israeli radio station 90FM in March 2011.[240] In March 2011, she appeared on the front cover of The Weekly Standard magazine.[241] She spoke to international journalists at a press conference on 13 January 2012, organized by the European American Press Club.[242]

On 21 April, she was featured in the 2011 Time 100,[19] with a commentary from Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the far-right Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and vice chairman of the State Duma.[243]

In October 2011, she presented her book in Verona, Italy, and met Assunta Almirante, the widow of Giorgio Almirante, the leader of the far-right Italian Social Movement (MSI).[244]

In February 2013, she spoke at the Cambridge Union Society, the debating society of the University of Cambridge. Her appearance sparked controversy, with anti-fascist group Unite Against Fascism opposing her invitation on a No Platform basis and organising a demonstration outside the venue, attended by around 200 people.[245][246] The protests were supported by numerous Cambridge societies, including Cambridge University Students' Union and Cambridge Universities Labour Club, however other groups supported her right to speak, such as the Cambridge Libertarians.[247]

Elections (1993–2012)

European elections

North-West France in 2009

In the 2009 election, Marine Le Pen led the FN list in the North-West France's constituency.

Attaining the best result among the seven FN European lists, her list polled 10.18% (253,009 votes)[248] and only won one of the ten seats of MEP.[249]

Her list achieved its highest regional result in Picardy (12.57%, 63,624 votes),[250] its highest departmental result in Aisne (13.40%, 19,125 votes),[251] and its highest municipal results in Pas-de-Calais: Hénin-Beaumont (27.92%, 1,799 votes),[252] Courcelles-lès-Lens (26.57%),[253] Noyelles-Godault (24.72%).[254] Her list also polled over 10% in Nord-Pas-de-Calais (10.90%, 115,350 votes)[255] and in four other departments : Pas-de-Calais (12.88%, 52,671 votes),[256] Oise (12.46%, 24,997 votes),[257] Somme (11.99%, 19,502 votes),[258] and Eure (10.06%, 15,793 votes).[259]

Île-de-France in 2004

In the 2004 election, she led the FN list in the Île-de-France's constituency. Her list polled 8.58% (234,893 votes) and only won one of the fourteen seats of MEP.[260]

Parliamentary elections

Paris in 1993

At the age of 24, she was for the first time a parliamentary candidate in the Paris' 16th constituency (17th arrondissement of Paris). Whereas Bernard Pons was re-elected as MP with 63.14% (22,545 votes) in the first round, she arrived in third position with 11.10% (3,963 votes) behind the socialist candidate (11.85%, 4,233 votes).[261]

Lens in 2002

In the 2002 election, she was a candidate at Lens in the Pas-de-Calais' 13th constituency. There are many workers and unemployed people in this economically deprived constituency, one of the socialist strongholds in northern France.

She polled 24.24% (10,228 votes) in the first round and achieved 32.30% (12,266 votes) in the run-off whereas her socialist challenger Jean-Claude Bois polled 38.20% (16,120 votes) in the first round and was re-elected as MP with 67.70% (27,510 votes) in the run-off.[262]

Hénin-Beaumont in 2007

In the 2007 election, Marine Le Pen and her substitute Steeve Briois, who emphasise the importance of local politics, represented the FN at Hénin-Beaumont in the Pas-de-Calais' 14th constituency.

Marine Le Pen during the FN presidential rally at Lille on 25 February 2007

Located in the former coal mining area, this constituency is characterized by a higher level of unemployment than the national average, a significant number of citizens in recipient of welfare such as the Revenu minimum d'insertion (RMI) and the closure of important factories like Metaleurop North with the loss of 870 jobs. A few months previously, Steeve Briois had asked her to contest this constituency, one of the socialist strongholds in northern France. Explaining the choice of this area, she declared that the constituency was symbolic, with unemployment, offshoring and insecurity representing the major problems of France.[263] Asserting his disappointment with the incumbent socialist MP Albert Facon, Daniel Janssens, who had been a socialist activist for thirty years and a first deputy mayor of Leforest for 24 years, led her support committee during the electoral campaign.

Among the fourteen candidates running in the first round, she came second with 24.47% (10,593 votes) whereas Facon came top with 28.24% (12,221 votes).[264] In order to take part in the run-off, a parliamentary candidate must cross the minimal threshold of 12.50% of the registered voters. Throughout France, she thus was the only FN candidate able to compete in a run-off.[265] Between the first round and the run-off, she received the support of historic figures of Gaullism like Alain Griotteray, Michel Caldagués and the souverainiste MEP Paul-Marie Coûteaux.[266]

In the run-off, she achieved 41.65% (17,107 votes) winning 17.18% and 6,514 votes within a week whereas Albert Facon was re-elected as MP with 58.35% (23,965 votes).[264] She attained her highest results in three municipalities: Courcelles-lès-Lens (48.71%),[267] Noyelles-Godault (47.85%),[268] Hénin-Beaumont (44.54%, 4,729 votes).[269] Her results in the first round and the run-off are higher than those of Steeve Briois in 2002 (20.06%, 8,768 votes; 32.08%, 12,129 votes) whereas Facon lost 9.57% and 1,718 votes within five years (67.92%, 25,683 votes).[270]

According to political analysts, she confirmed her excellent showing in this economically deprived area achieving a very high percentage of votes thanks to economic and social matters like deindustrialization, unemployment and a feeling of abandonment rather than issues such as immigration and insecurity.[265]

Hénin-Beaumont in 2012

Marine Le Pen represented as the FN leader at Pas-de-Calais' 11th constituency, where the new constitution regrouped Henin-Beaumont, had her best score in the presidential election.[271] She would be opposed to Philippe Kemel and Jean-Luc Mélenchon.[272] On the first round on 10 June 2012, she finished first with 42.36% (22 280 votes).[273] She was defeated in the second round by Philippe Kemel of the Socialist Party.

Convicted for fraud

In 2014, the Criminal Court of Bethune found Marine Le Pen guilty of fraud and sentenced her a 10,000 Euro fine, for producing and distributing flyers purporting to be from electoral opponent Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the 2012 election which called for 'Arab' votes. In a statement, her counsel Wallerand de Saint-Just announced that she was appealing the conviction.[274][275][276]

Regional elections

Nord-Pas-de-Calais in 2010

In the 2010 elections, Marine Le Pen led the FN regional list in Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the departmental list in Pas-de-Calais whereas Steeve Briois figured in second position.[277] Largely spread during the electoral campaign, her regional programme included several topics about social, economic, political and cultural issues.[278]

In the first round, her list polled 18.31% (224.871 votes) and arrived in third position in Nord-Pas-de-Calais.[279] In Pas-de-Calais, her list polled 19.81% (96,556 votes) overtaking the one of the UMP (15.91%, 77,550 votes)[280] and largely came on top in Hénin-Beaumont (39.08%, 2,949 votes).[281] Whereas Jean-Marie Le Pen's FN list attained 20.30% (296,283 votes) in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur,[282] she nationally achieved the second highest result among the FN regional lists. In Pas-de-Calais, her result was higher in percentage than the one of Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of the 2002 presidential election (18.41%, 135,330 votes).[283] In order to take part in the run-off, a regional list must cross the minimal threshold of 10% of the valid votes.

In the run-off, her list polled 22.20% (301,190 votes) and arrived in third position in Nord-Pas-de-Calais.[279] Eighteen FN councillors were elected among the 113 of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais' regional council.[284] Whereas Jean-Marie Le Pen's list attained 22.87% (387,374 votes) with 21 councillors elected,[282] she nationally achieved the second highest result among the FN regional lists. In Pas-de-Calais, her list polled 24.37% (130,720 votes) overtaking the one of the UMP (22.63%, 121,365 votes)[280] and achieved its highest municipal results in Hénin-Beaumont (44.23%, 3,829 votes)[281] and Courcelles-lès-Lens (40.60%).[285] Her list nationally realized the second highest departmental FN result behind Vaucluse (26.54%).[286] Her regional result and the one in Pas-de-Calais were higher in percentage than those of Jean-Marie Le Pen in the run-off of the 2002 presidential election (21.89%, 445,357 votes;[287] 22.17%, 170,967 votes).[283]

Thanks to her political success, she confirmed her regional presence and reinforced her internal position within the FN. As a member of the standing committee and a president of the regional group (Front National/Gathering for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais), she led a resolute opposition facing the left-wing regional executive managed by Daniel Percheron.

Île-de-France in 2004

In the 2004 elections, she led the FN regional list in Île-de-France and the departmental list in Hauts-de-Seine.

Her list polled 12.26% (448,983 votes) in the first round and achieved 10.11% (395,565 votes) with fifteen councillors elected in the run-off.[288][289]

She exercised the leadership of her regional group for five years and left it in February 2009 since she preferred to devote her energy to the European election campaign in the North-West France's constituency.[290] A member of the standing committee, she led a strong opposition facing the left-wing regional executive managed by Jean-Paul Huchon.

Nord-Pas-de-Calais in 1998

In the 1998 elections, she figured on the FN list in Nord-Pas-de-Calais and was a regional councillor for six years (1998–2004).[26]

Municipal elections

Marine Le Pen and Steeve Briois holding a press conference at Hénin-Beaumont, Pas-de-Calais, for the launch of the 2008 municipal election

Hénin-Beaumont in 2008

Since 2001, Gérard Dalongeville has been the mayor of Hénin-Beaumont, an economically deprived town in a former coal mining area.

A municipal councillor since 1995,[291] Steeve Briois led the FN list while Marine Le Pen was in second position. The FN list came second with 28.53% (3,650 votes) in the first round and achieved 28.83% (3,630 votes) with five councillors elected in the run-off.[292][293] In order to take part in the run-off, a municipal list must cross the minimal threshold of 10% of the votes cast.

Despite their electoral failure, Steeve Briois and Marine Le Pen led a sharp opposition against the re-elected mayor Gérard Dalongeville, his first vice-mayor Marie-Noëlle Lienemann and their left-wing team.

2009 Hénin-Beaumont by-election

A municipal by-election was held in Hénin-Beaumont on 28 June and 5 July 2009. Like in 2008, Steeve Briois was the FN top candidate whereas she figured in second position.

The FN list was largely in the lead with 39.33% (4,485 votes) in the first round and achieved 47.62% (5,504 votes) with eight councillors elected in the run-off.[294] Despite a weekly increase of 1,019 votes, the FN again failed its attempt to win the municipality.[295]

Steeve Briois, Marine Le Pen and the six other FN councillors led the sole political opposition against the new mayor Daniel Duquenne and his successor Eugène Binaisse.

On 24 February 2011, she resigned as a municipal councillor because of the law on the accumulation of mandates ("cumul des mandats").[296] In a letter entitled "I stay in Hénin-Beaumont!", she explained that her political action is more efficient for the city at regional and European levels than in the municipal council.[297]

Political mandates

Local mandates

  • Regional councillor of Nord-Pas-de-Calais: (15 March 1998 – 28 March 2004); since 26 March 2010: member of the standing committee, leader of the FN group.
  • Regional councillor of Île-de-France (28 March 2004 – 21 March 2010): member of the standing committee, leader of the FN group until February 2009.
  • Municipal councillor of Hénin-Beaumont (23 March 2008 – 24 February 2011).

European mandates

Member of the European Parliament in the Île-de-France constituency (20 July 2004 – 13 July 2009): Non-Inscrits (20 July 2004 – 14 January 2007/14 November 2007 – 13 July 2009); Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (15 January 2007 – 13 November 2007).

Member of the European Parliament in the North-West France constituency: Non-Inscrits (14 July 2009 – 16 June 2015); ENF

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External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jean-Marie Le Pen
Leader of the National Front
2011–2017
Succeeded by
Vacant
Preceded by
Jean-Marie Le Pen
National Front nominee for President of France
2012 and 2017
Most recent
European Parliament
New constituency Member of the European Parliament
for Île-de-France

2004–2009
Succeeded by
Pervenche Berès
Preceded by
Carl Lang
Member of the European Parliament
for North-West France

2009–present
Incumbent