French politics

French Front national is (still) an extremist party

Marine Le Pen, French Front national leader since 2011, current Member of European Parliament (Non-attached)

Marine Le Pen, French Front national leader since 2011, current Member of European Parliament (Non-attached)

Marine Le Pen recently warned, Front national movement, the party she is the leader since January 2011, is not a far-right party and she will not hesitate to sue anyone who continues to still consider it. According to her, considering Front national has a far-right party is pejorative insofar as it must be seen as nationalist and patriot and it is excluded from the right-left opposition, an opposition which trapped the movement founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen to be put aside better.

Denying the “far-right” expression, the current Member of European Parliament and local representative of Hénin-Beaumont (north of France) is trying something in her strategy to make her party acceptable, respectable and especially credible as the League of North or the MSI (Italian Social Movement, claiming Mussolini’s political heritage) in Italy. Thanks to its alliance with Berlusconi’s centre-right party, the League of North managed to change its reputation vis-à-vis a large part of Italian people partially. This is a strategy Marine Le Pen wants to inspire, addressing to UMP party executives more and more attempted by Front national leader’s speech in the context of the next March local elections.

Faced with a silenced and divided opposition, Marine Le Pen is looking for a new strategy to make her party more credible and legitimistic for the French people. Besides, the presence of new personalities as Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, Florian Philippot, the former journalist and RSF (Reporters without Borders) chairman, Robert Ménard, and recently Jean Roucas, former French famous humorist, clearly highlights this new strategy adopted by the Front national and her leader. This strategy seems to be effective all the more so as Marine Le Pen’s party is looking for questioning its controversial reputation cultivated and claimed by the founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Adopting this strategy, Marine Le Pen wishes to be seen as a political leader defending the interests of her country vis-à-vis the European integration as the French Euro-sceptic MEP Philippe de Villiers or the British MEP Nigel Farage. However, there exists important contradictions in the Front national and Marine Le Pen’s strategy to power. Her leader defends secularism but leans on catholic extremist movements to put this concept forward and tackle Islam both, the Front national denounces a so-called “UMPS” (the contraction of UMP and Parti socialiste) system while it is party of and enjoys it largely. Marine Le Pen’s party tackles Jean-Marie Le Pen’s political heritage and ideas denouncing some declarations of his father regarding the WWII but remains silent regarding some other far-right and/or fascists movements activities throughout the European Union as Vlaams Belang in Belgium or Golden Dawn in Greece. And in France, Marine Le Pen criticizes the UMP party but wants still courts it to extent its influence in the political sphere, which supposes tacking then removing the moral border between the Front national and the French moderate Right.

During the Front national summer university at Marseille on September 2012

During the Front national summer university at Marseille on September 2012

So, behind this semantic war, there is another stake: the attitude the French political party and leaders have to get vis-à-vis a more cynical and politically vicious Marine Le Pen, which demands a new political strategy. Indeed, denouncing the Front national as a far-right party won’t be enough, French traditional parties have to have the political courage to tackle it and debate with Marine Le Pen, which also supposes they take their responsibilities.

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