Polls indicate that French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s “detoxifying” of her party’s image, shifting the focus onto the forgotten victims of globalisation, has been a success and many see her topping the first round vote on April 23. But they also see her losing the second round run-off to a mainstream rival.
LILLE, FRANCE (MARCH 26, 2017) (NATIONAL FRONT) – France’s far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is seeking the first presidential win for the National Front party her father Jean-Marie Le Pen founded in 1972, but whose image she has since “detoxified”.
The anti-establishment party caters to working class voters with an anti-immigrant, anti-EU, “French first” manifesto.
Le Pen is running neck-and-neck with centrist Emmanuel Macron in the April 23 first round, according to opinion polls. The polls say Macron would easily beat Le Pen in the May 7 runoff.
The 48-year-old lawyer, the youngest of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s three daughters, has served as municipal councillor, regional councillor, and as member of the European Parliament. In the 2012 elections, she came third in the first round, garnering 17.9 percent of votes.
She took over the National Front’s leadership in 2011, and expelled her father from the party in 2015, after he repeated an anti-Semitic slur in a radio interview, saying the gas chambers were a “detail of history”. Over the years, she has sought to change the party’s image, to appeal to more mainstream voters.
Energising supporters with her anti-EU stance, she advocates leaving the euro zone and re-establishing the French franc currency, renegotiating the relationship with the European Union and calling a referendum on EU membership.