The PJ Tatler

Say 'Bonjour!' to the Next President of France

That would be Marine le Pen of the National Front:

She calls for the collapse of the EU and talks about nationalising banks. She sees the US as a purveyor of dangerous policies and Russia as a more suitable friend. She wants to bring an end to immigration and believes the republic is under Islamist assault.

Radical as Marine Le Pen’s vision for France may be, the prospect of her National Front (FN) policies becoming reality is no longer pure fantasy. “It’s the Front’s moment,” Ms Le Pen declares in an interview with the Financial Times.

Two months after the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris, the far-right party has cemented its standing as the most dynamic political force in a frightened and frustrated country; its 46-year-old leader now regarded as a possible winner of the presidency in 2017. Polls place the FN ahead of the centre-right UMP and ruling Socialist parties in the first round of this month’s local elections, with one giving it about 33 per cent of the vote.

As the French elections approach, you’ll be hearing a lot of nonsense from the Left about “neo-Nazism,” right-wing crazies, etc. And it’s true that under Jean-Marie le Pen, Marine’s father, the Front edged a little too close to anti-Semitism for comfort. But to hear her talk, she’s moving away from that:

To detoxify the FN’s brand, she has distanced herself from anti-semitic comments made by her father and party founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has described the gas chambers as “a detail” of the second world war. There are times, she says, when she and her father disagree. “But I am the president of the National Front and he’s the honorary president. I determine the . . . line.”

In any case, the Left has brought this upon itself. The mass importation of culturally alien Muslims into the heart of Europe was bound to have some consequences and here they are, chickens coming home to roost.

She sneers when asked to judge the government’s plan to tackle homegrown jihadism, rattling off her own list of hardline measures, including a zero-tolerance policy towards attacks on French secularism, enforcement of French-speaking preachers in mosques and stripping dual-nationality jihadis who fight abroad of their French citizenship. Going further, Ms Le Pen also wants a radical overhaul of French foreign policy in which relations with the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad would be restored and those with the likes of Qatar and Turkey, which she alleges support terrorism, reviewed.

She calls the US “the most discredited power in the [Middle East] region” and says it cannot be seen as a partner in the global struggle against jihadis. Instead, defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the group known as Isis, will only be achieved by involving Russia.

She’s got that right, at least. You don’t have to agree with every plank in le Pen’s platform to see that she will be a formidable candidate. Especially now that the National Front is on track to become the largest political party in France. Bonne chance!