Marine Le Pen’s being one of the leading anti-EU figures in Europe is already a widely known fact. With little more than three weeks before the all-important French presidential election, candidates are trying to send a strong message to voters across the country.
At a rally in Lille, a town in northern France where Front National enjoys high support, especially among working class voters, Le Pen said that she will protect France from globalization and said that the upcoming election will represent a global rebellion of the people.
“The European Union will die because the people do not want it anymore … arrogant and hegemonic empires are destined to perish…The time has come to defeat globalists.” Said Le Pen to loud cheers and applause.
She accused her main rival, the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon of “treason” for their pro-EU, pro-market policies.
On several occasions, Le Pen announced that she will renegotiate France’s EU membership, and pull the country from the Eurozone and return to the franc. She also vowed to return tariffs, regain control over France’s borders and drastically cut immigration.
Le Pen’s opposition to neo-liberal model, her protectionist economic program score well with the impoverished working class. Traditionally left-wing voters, disappointed by years of economic decline, are turning to Le Pen as an only alternative to the current French political establishment.
Front National has won most votes in formerly industrial areas in the north of the country, but has also scored extremely well in the conservative south.
Current opinion polls suggest that Le Pen might win in the first round of the election, but predict a comfortable defeat to Emmanuel Macron in the run-off. Nevertheless, the high number of undecided voters means the outcome remains unpredictable.
Le Pen has a stable electorate, but has problems motivating the still undecided voters. Macron, on the other hand, can count on the support of voters who are traditionally suspicious of Le Pen and her policies.
First round of French presidential election is due to be held on April 23. Two candidates with most voters in the first round will face in the run-off on May 7.
Photograph: REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol