In France, it all comes down to Marine Le Pen

Just one week before presidential second and final round of election, one name on all French lips: Marine Le Pen.

Marine Le Pen (photo credit: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)
Marine Le Pen
(photo credit: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)
Just one week before the presidential second and final round of the election, one name is on all French lips: Marine Le Pen, the 43-year-old leader of the extreme right-wing National Front party who will decide whom to support on May 6 – either Nicolas Sarkozy, the outgoing president and candidate of the moderate-right party UMP who has the support of 44 percent of the public according to the latest polls, or his rival with 56% of the polls, the candidate of the Socialist Party François Hollande.
The irony of the situation is that the name UMP, which stand for “Union pour un Mouvement Populaire,” was given in 2002 to the moderate right-wing party of former president Jacques Chirac in order to stop the rise of National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father.
Today, the UMP desperately needs the support of MLP (Marine Le Pen), in order to keep alive a slim chance of winning, something that is far from being acquired.
According to the daily paper Le Monde, just the opposite is occurring, in that the strategy of the National Front is set to implode the right-wing. There is a new electoral balance never before considered by the extreme right-wing in the French political landscape. If their core support is confirmed in the first round of the coming legislative elections, scheduled for June 10, the National Front votes might be present in more than 350 of the over 500 election constituencies for the second round of these elections a week later. The objective will be to destabilize the UMP, threatened by a record number of three-way contests.
According to experts, the National Front is succeeding in places outside the metropolitan areas. According to an analysis by the emographers/geographers Hervé Le Bras and Jacques Lévy published in Le Monde, “It is more than socioeconomic distinctions, or sociocultural ones; it is the location of voter homes that seems to be the predictive element of the political orientation. There is a radicalization: Refusal of the National Front in urban zones and support outside them.”
This electoral geography analysis explains why the National Front is marching toward the legislative elections with confidence. It has a historical window to have its deputies elected, and to fulfill its ambition to get at least 15 deputies, the minimum number required to have a parliamentary group at the National Assembly. With that in mind, the National Front is betting on the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy.
For the third and final round of the elections, the National Front has decided to change its name to “Rassemblement Bleu Marine” (the Navy Blue Union), despite the opposition of the father of the movement, Jean-Marie le Pen.
“To abandon the name National means for the National Front to remove their extremist image,” explained branding specialist Marcel Botton, adding that “the blue remains a color associated with the right-wing and using a color name as a brand name is more modern, as Orange has proven.”
Marine Le Pen wants to get the most out of the dynamics of the presidential elections and to “de-Frontize” her candidates, since the name National Front is quite unpopular, so she can be pivotal in the future reconstruction of the right-wing.
That’s why, between the two rounds, nothing will be done to support Nicolas Sarkozy, the man that the National Front has always considered as the main adversary, though she will not give any voting directives to her supporters.
Those close to her have said it publicly: At the second round, she will either abstain or vote with a blank ballot.
A representative of the National Front, M. Philippot said: “We make no difference between François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy; between now and May 6, we will be in opposition to ‘Sarkhollande.’” Most experts agree that Marine Le Pen – who is considered as “modern” by some of the younger generation, for whom Sarkozy is the ‘President of the Rich’ – has everything to win by causing Sarkozy to lose.
Even though she shares with him what he calls “the terrorism of the media system” (the media in general is against both of them), she will then become an opposition force that cannot be ignored. It seems likely that Tuesday, at her rally on May 1 at Place de l’Opéra, she will call to cast a blank vote or to abstain.
If the UMP does not “explode,” it will “go for a walk across the desert,” but not disappear, since it is a redoubtable war machine whose star leaders are already organizing their fight in the opposition.
“If the left wins, there will be immigration with no control, a furious and crazy recession in the economy; it is suicide for the country and shame in face of Europe with the planned revision to the Treaty of Europe,” said Marine Le Pen.
For Natasha, a 43-year-old supporter of Sarkozy from Noisy-le-Roi near Versailles, “he is like Louis XVI, the only one to work, and he’s going to have his head cut off and pay the price for the others.