With 'Echo of Trump,' French Far-Right Leader Le Pen Launches Presidential Bid

Riding on the coattails of far-right victories in the U.S. and U.K., France’s Marine Le Pen officially launched her bid for president on Sunday with a speech and manifesto full of populist talking points and anti-immigrant fervor.

“The impossible has suddenly become possible…Other countries have shown us the way,” the head of the Front National (NF) party declared in Lyon, pointing to the surprise Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

“The awakening of those nations is historic and marks the end of an era,” Le Pen proclaimed. “The winds of history have changed.”

During her hour-long speech, the white nationalist figurehead lambasted the “twin evils” of immigration and globalization, as France 24 put it, which she blamed for destroying the nation’s identity and prosperity.

“She warned globalization ‘from below’ had taken the form of massive immigration, while globalisation ‘from above’—the world of international finance—forced unreasonable austerity on French citizens,” France 24 reported.

And the New York Times observed,

Ms. Le Pen’s dark picture of a weakened France troubled by bureaucrats and burqas was a striking echo of themes being sounded across the Atlantic. France, a prosperous country with the world’s sixth-largest economy, was depicted as a besieged wreck. In a packed hall here, she made a point, in an hourlong speech brimming with nationalist fervor, of praising President Trump and the Americans who had elected him, as her supporters shouted forcefully, “This is our country!” 

Americans, she said, had “kept faith with their national interest,” even as she promised to do the same for France, saying the French had been “dispossessed of their patriotism.”

Not unlike Trump, Le Pen laid out an agenda that included massive restrictions on immigration coupled with measures to isolate France economically, such as leaving the Eurozone and holding a referendum on EU membership.

Her manifesto, published alongside her kick-off and described by the Independent as “heavily protectionist,” includes 144 commitments such as “curbing several rights to French citizens only, while building new prisons, hiring thousands of police, and leaving NATO’s integrated command.” 

Le Pen, the Independent reports, “wants to restrict universal rights including free education to French citizens, while making it harder to gain citizenship, limit migration to a net annual total of 10,000, and deport all foreign convicts and anyone under investigation for ‘links with radical Islam.'”

But Trump’s efforts to halt immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations have been met with fierce public opposition and have been temporarily halted by the U.S. court system.

And for all the U.S. president’s populist promises to “drain the swamp” of government corruption, his policies, such as rolling back Wall Street regulations, and personnel appointments indicate that he is merely “a fraud,” a Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently charged.

Thus far, the majority of polls show Le Pen “winning the first round of France’s presidential election on 23 April but losing the run-off vote in May,” the Independent noted. “Her supporters, buoyed by the FN’s move into the mainstream amid rising Euroscepticism, anti-immigration sentiment, and terror fears, have been heartened by the shock votes for Brexit and Donald Trump.”

Reporting on the latest polling on Monday, Reuters wrote:

The IFOP rolling poll of voting intentions showed Le Pen garnering 25.5 percent of the vote in the April 23 first round, up 1.5 percent since Feb. 1, while [independent centrist Emmanuel ] Macron would get 20.5 percent, up 0.5 percent over the same period. 

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon placed at 18.5 percent, down from 21 percent.

Meanwhile, Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon—known as the “Bernie Sanders of France”—is polling at 15.5 percent, down from 18 percent on Feb. 1.

Via Common Dreams. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.