Just a day following the first round of the Presidential election, Marine Le Pen decided to temporarily step down as the President of Front National.
Le Pen reached the second round of the Presidential election, together with the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron. According to the final results of the first round vote, Macron won 24,01 percent of the vote, and Le Pen won 21,30.
Explaining her decision to step down as party leader, Le Pen told French TV she needed to be ‘above partisan considerations’.
“So, this evening, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I am the candidate for the French presidency,” she said.
Le Pen’s move can be interpreted as an attempt to distance herself from the legacy of her party. Front National was founded in the 1970’s, by Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a controversial figure in French politics.
For many years, FN was regarded as fringe party, whom many branded as anti-semitic, anti-muslim and fascist.
After she was elected as party leader in 2011, Marine launched a campaign to cleanse the party of its anti-semitic elements, largely succeeding in her aim to build a new image of FN as a Gaullist, anti-establishment party.
However, polls still suggest that the majority of voters remain weary of FN’s legacy. All polls predict a comfortable victory for Macron in the run-off. Le Pen is still faced with a seemingly impossible task of winning over the support of undecided voters and those who voted for the defeated candidates in the first round.
The conservative Francois Fillon and the Socialist Benoit Hamon both called their voters to back Macron, while the incumbent President Francois Hollande, called Le Pen ‘a danger for France’.
Le Pen and Macron will face each other in the run-off on May 7.