Far-right French Front National leader Marine Le Pen finds the election of Donald Trump emboldening, and now says if she’s elected president in May, France would work with the U.S. and Russian President Vladimir Putin to make the world a far safer place for everyone.
Viewing both the Brexit vote to leave the European Union and the U.S. election of Trump as unexpected victories, Le Pen believes the West is shifting away from the traditional establishment — something that could work in her favour at the polls.
“He [Donald Trump] made possible what had previously been presented as impossible,” Le Pen told Andrew Marr of the BBC in an interview cited by the Independent. “So it’s really the victory of the people against the elites.”
“If I can draw a parallel with France, then yes, I wish that in France also the people upend the table, around which the elites are dividing up what should go to the French people.”
On Wednesday, Le Pen spoke to ITV at the opening of her presidential campaign headquarters, saying, “The forces at work in these various elections are ideas, forces which could bring about my election as the president of France next May.”
Those forces referenced the shift against “unchecked globalization, destructive ultra-liberalism, the elimination of nation states, the disappearance of borders.”
Le Pen isn’t alone in recognizing that the public’s tolerance with the establishment has worn thin. France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls noted during an economic conference in Berlin that “it’s possible” the Front National leader could win the upcoming election.
In the French electoral system, Le Pen would have to make it to the second round on May 7, and then face a run-off for president.
“If she does make it to the second round she will face either a candidate of the left or the right,” Valls continued, referencing Front National’s ‘third party’ status. “This means that the balance of politics will change completely.”
Indeed, Front National has continued to amass a wide following after Le Pen succeeded her father as party leader in 2011, and she now polls between 25 and 28 percent, according to the Independent.
Jean-Marie Le Pen founded the anti-immigration, right-wing Front National in 1972 as a move toward nationalism and rule-of-law authoritarianism — but he was ousted by Marine in 2011 after an inflammatory comment about the Holocaust, and she sought to revitalize the party’s image and move away from perceptions of extremism.
And Le Pen believes the growing ambivalence to the globalist establishment present positive possibilities, such as the potential cooperation between France, the United States, and Russia, which “would be good for world peace.”
“If I am president, France would have good relations with Russia,” she asserted to ITV, adding, of the Western buildup along the Russian border, “What’s the point of NATO? From what threats does it protect us? That’s the real question.”
Despite the quickening popularity of Front National, reports differ on Le Pen’s ultimate chance to win the presidency — some believe it isn’t far-fetched, while others posit she will be handily defeated by a center-right Republican candidate in the May 7th second round.
Those predictions, however, are based on polling data — the same method that predicted Hillary Clinton would be victorious by a landslide. Further, while the U.S. discussion about immigration, which helped drive Trump’s victory, hinges largely on theoreticals rather than experience, France is feeling the brunt of an exploding immigrant population and resultant backlash.
France’s Socialist Party has sharply declined in favourability, while the controversial and historically-extremist Front National has enjoyed renewed vigor amid the controversy.
This divisiveness and exasperation with establishment policies many voters feel created the world’s present chaos could empower the far-right Le Pen as it did the Brexit and Trump votes. As she told ITV:
“I’m convinced the French people will follow in British and American footsteps.”