PARIS – Former right-wing presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan on Saturday endorsed far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the upcoming runoff.In a joint press conference in the French capital, Le Pen declared that should she win next Sunday’s election against free-market centrist Emmanuel Macron, she will nominate Dupont-Aignan to be prime minister of her government.She also said that they have formed a joint presidential project, which incorporates several elements of Dupont-Aignan’s program, in order to appeal to as many of the voters on the Right as possible.
“Nicolas Dupont-Aignan is an absolute patriot. I am happy and proud of this alliance between our two political families,” declared Le Pen.Also present at the press conference, National Assembly deputy and senior National Front member Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the presidential candidate’s niece, stated, “This is like a marriage... We are delighted about the union between us.”Dupont-Aignan warned voters of the “unprecedented violent social and economic policies of Emmanuel Macron,” which he said are a continuation of those of President François Hollande. He argued that while he himself ran in the first election round, the time has come to choose camps. “Marine Le Pen and I are both independent people. I am not joining her party, but the rules of the political game demand that the second round plays differently than the first one,” he added. Dupont-Aignan also accused the European Union of being “anti-democratic.”Dupont-Aignan was one of 11 candidates in April 23’s first election round. Considered one of the six “minor” candidates, he garnered 4.7% of the votes, coming in sixth place, just behind the Socialist Party’s Benoît Hamon. It was the best score of all the “minor” candidates, turning him into a political force that might tilt the balance, at least imagewise.A seasoned politician, Dupont-Aignan ran for president in 2012, as candidate of his own party, Debout la France (France Arise), receiving 1.79% of the votes. Before establishing his own party in 2007, he was member of the large right-wing party UMP (today’s The Republicans).Dupont-Aignan shares several of Le Pen’s convictions. He positions himself as an “anti-system politician” and advocates preserving French sovereignty and its status as a world-leading nation. He also advocates leaving the euro zone and restoring a French national currency. According to him, his policies embody the Gaullist positions of a strong and dominant France.In contrast to the National Front, Dupont-Aignan’s party members have not been accused in the past of antisemitism or outspoken racism, but the party is considered by pundits (but not by Dupont-Aignan) as part of the far Right.The National Front has long courted Dupont-Aignan, in the framework of its efforts to expand its right-wing support. These efforts multiplied since the publication of the results of the first election round, leading to the signing of the agreement between the two parties. Le Pen hopes that having Dupont-Aignan on board will attract not only his constituency, but also voters who supported the center-right François Fillon in the first round.She is also hoping to persuade extreme-left voters to either abstain or to vote for her. At Saturday’s press conference with Dupont-Aignan, Le Pen said that Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the extremeleft party La France insoumise (France Unbowed), has only said for whom he will personally vote. Mélenchon actually stated that he will not vote for Le Pen, but did not call upon his supporters to vote for her rival Macron.For the moment, surveys predict that Macron will win with a bit less than 60%, but Le Pen has been constantly rising in polls in recent days.
Marine Le Pen on Sunday (April 16) seeking to mobilize her supporters (Reuters)