France is trying to stop Marine Le Pen at all costs
|| NY Post
“France’s political mainstream, shut out of the presidency by an angry electorate, united on Monday to call on voters to back centrist Emmanuel Macron and reject Marine Le Pen’s populist nationalism.
Politicians on the moderate left and right, including the Socialist and Republicans party losers in Sunday’s first-round vote, maneuvered to block Le Pen’s path to power in the May 7 runoff.
Voters narrowed the presidential field from 11 to two. France’s presidential election is widely seen as a litmus test for the populist wave that last year prompted Britain to vote to leave the European Union and U.S. voters to elect Donald Trump president.
The defeated far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, pointedly refused to back Macron, and Le Pen’s National Front is hoping to do the once-unthinkable and peel away voters historically opposed to a party long tainted by racism and anti-Semitism.
Le Pen went on the offensive against Macron in her first public comments Monday.
“He is a hysterical, radical ‘Europeanist.’ He is for total open borders. He says there is no such thing as French culture. There is not one domain that he shows one ounce of patriotism,” she said.
European stock markets surged, and France’s main index hit its highest level since early 2008, as investors gambled that the rise of populism around the world — and the associated potential unpredictability in policymaking — may have peaked.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wished Macron “all the best for the next two weeks.”
Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted that “the result for Emmanuel Macron shows: France AND Europe can win together! The center is stronger than the populists think!”
Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, made it to the second round against Jacques Chirac in 2002 and was crushed in the runoff. Many commentators expect the same fate for his daughter, but she has already drawn far more support than he ever did and she has transformed the party’s once-pariah image.
Chirac refused to debate Jean-Marie Le Pen on principle. Macron has already agreed to share a stage with his daughter.
Le Pen offers an alternative for anyone skeptical of the EU and France’s role in it, said Louis Aliot, another National Front vice president.
“I’m not convinced that the French are willing to sign a blank check to Mr. Macron,” he said.”
How Marine Le Pen responded to the Bataclan Islamic Terror Attack in 2015
It emerges three major French intelligence failures may have let the killers get through
|| Daily Mail UK | Nov 2015
““Vital clues were missed that could have averted the Paris atrocities, it was feared last night as it was revealed that:
– A heavily armed suspect was stopped on his way to the French capital more than a week ago but German police who uncovered an arsenal of weapons in his car did not tell anti-terror chiefs.
– At least one of the terrorists was a Parisian who had been on a terror watch list for five years, but was not being monitored closely enough to be stopped before he took part in the murderous attack.
– Greek authorities believe that two of the gunmen sneaked into Europe posing as a refugee from Syria – heightening fears that not enough security checks are being carried out on migrants.
Read more here including warning graphic images: Daily Mail | Nov 2015
French election: Marine Le Pen wins through to final showdown against Emmanuel Macron, early results suggest
|| Independent UK
“Marine Le Pen is expected to make it through to the second round run-off of the French presidential election, first results suggest.
With 20 million votes counted from France’s 47 million strong electorate, the figures put the leader of the far-right Front National (FN) on 24.38 per cent, where she is expected to face centrist Emmanuel Macron who is on 22.19 per cent.
The figures do not include results from France’s major cities, where Ms Le Pen’s level of support tends to be low relative to smaller towns and villages where counts were complete.
The vote is expected to mark the end of a political era since the two major parties – the Socialist party and the centre-right Les Republicains – which have traditionally been the pillars of France’s political arena, are expected to be eliminated in the first round of the election.
Conservative Francois Fillon is on 19.63 per cent with 20 million votes counted and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon is on 18.09 per cent. projections suggest Mr Melenchon and Mr Fillon will both claim around 19.5 per cent of the votes, with Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon set to pick-up an historically-low 6.2 per cent.
Mr Macron said that the vote showed that the election meant “turning a page in French political history”.
Addressing her supporters in her fiefdom in Hénin-Baumont, Ms Le Pen said the first hurdle towards the Elysée Palace has been overcome.
She hailed the results as “historic” and warned “the survival of French civilisation” was now at stake.
Supporters of Ms Le Pen were quick to hail her, waving flags and shouting “We will win!”
Quentin Leclerc, 22, a history student said: “Marine Le Pen is making history after Brexit [and] Donald Trump.”
“The second round is another battle but we are prepared,” he added.
Michèle Lojanne, who came with her 16-year-old son, said: “really happy she is in the 2nd round”. Louise-Marie Le Maire, 50 and unemployed, said it was “a pity that she is not first but the right wing takes a slap.”
Marion Maréchal Le Pen, Marine’s niece and a FN MP called Ms Le Pen’s progression to the second round run-off “a historic victory for patriots and sovereignists”.
In Paris, others were not so happy. Police have fired tear gas on the Place de la Bastille in eastern Paris as crowds of young people, some from anarchist and anti-fascist groups, gathered to protest at Ms Le Pen’s second-place finish and her anti-immigrant policies.”
“When Marine Le Pen was a child growing up in Paris, her friends never slept over – their parents wouldn’t allow it. And no matter how hard the blond, blue-eyed girl studied at school, her teachers often mocked her, hardly concealing their disdain. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was so reviled in French mainstream society that someone set off a bomb in the stairwell outside their apartment four years after he founded the fringe far-right National Front (FN) political party in 1972.
Ms. Le Pen describes in her autobiography, “A Contre Flots,” or “Against the Current,” a childhood that was full of insults, suffering, and injustice – all simply because of her family name.
She cannot say the same of her adulthood.
The girl who grew up in the harsh shadow of her provocative, nationalist father has risen to become one of the most popular politicians in France – and one of the most important opposition leaders in the world. Now, as the campaign for the French presidency reaches its denouement – with Le Pen having a distant but not inconceivable chance of winning – she has pushed the FN closer to the Élysée Palace than her father ever did and is expanding her influence over French and European politics.
The party leader, who is both anti-immigrant and anti-European Union, inspires an almost cultlike following. She now garners support among large swaths of the population, including a growing number of mainstream voters who once rejected her. Many of them carry photos of her in their wallets.
At rallies, supporters chant her name in trancelike reverence. “Marine! Marine! Marine!” came the cry at a recent campaign stop in Metz in France’s Grand Est, a former mining region that’s reeling economically.
Le Pen, tall and confident, walked onto the stage cutting a striking figure. She was dressed modestly, as is her style, in a dark blue blouse cut out at the shoulders that was at once feminine and authoritative. The arena was filled with those who want out of the EU, who want immigrants out of France, who want the ruling elite out of office. And if they are separated by disparate, and sometimes irreconcilable desires – some eschew her left-wing protectionist trade policies but love her right-wing crusade to stop foreigners from coming in – they seem united in a longing for the grandeur of a France they can barely grasp anymore.
In voices thick with nostalgia, these voters – and the candidate they would elevate – may well decide the future of Europe. The EU, the postwar bloc that France helped to found, probably couldn’t survive if the country withdraws from the organization, which is what Le Pen wants to have happen.
The following that she has amassed both reflects and reinforces the nationalist revival sweeping across Europe and around much of the world. The populist rebellions in so many countries that shun globalism, open borders, and multiculturalism may be the most dominant political trend of the 21st century – and perhaps no one embodies the mood of the movements better than Le Pen.
She is not just Donald Trump with a more natural hairdo and a French accent. Her political roots date back to her teenage years, her rise has been methodical, and she is peaking in popularity at the most important moment for Europe in a half-century – one that may decide whether the EU survives or splits apart.
“This is the cleavage of 21st-century democracies,” says Pascal Perrineau, an expert on populist movements at Sciences Po in Paris. “It’s not a cleavage between the right and left anymore, or between conservatives and progressives. It’s a new kind of split between open societies and closed societies.”
Le Pen’s stance on national identity – preventing more foreigners from coming in and diluting what it means to be French – resonates as much as any issue with her followers. It’s also what makes her sound the most like her father. She wants to reimpose immigration controls at the border. She promises to prevent companies from relocating abroad for cheaper labor.
While detractors criticize her for stirring up hate, pointing often to a statement she made in 2010 comparing Muslims praying in the streets with the Nazi occupation of France, she has tapped into a deep anxiety about radical Islam in France. It has been fed by major terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice that together killed more than 230 people. At the same time, 1.3 million refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly Muslim, have entered Europe in the throes of upheaval in the Middle East, which the far-right easily conflates with terrorism.
“Let’s give France back to France,” says Le Pen at the Metz rally.
As her followers chant “On est chez nous,” or “We are in our house,” she adds: “What I want is not to close the borders. It is simply to have them – and control them.”