“She’s a bit stuck”: Marina Le Pen looks for motivation after losing the election

On Sunday, at a raucous gathering of far-right supporters in the southern town of Perpignan, Marina Le Pen tried to quell dissidents who criticized her father’s “detoxification” strategy of the party.

“We will not go backwards,” she said. “With full respect for our history, we will not go back to the past National Front,” Le Pen said, referring to the old party name she changed in 2018.

The so-called leader National gathering, Or national rallies, trying to regain momentum after poor performance in local elections last monthIn less than a year before the presidential election, after two-thirds of voters-including most far-right sympathizers-chose to stay at home, Le Pen’s party failed to win a single French regional parliament. .

The 52-year-old Le Pen issued her usual anti-immigration and anti-globalization slogans and agreed to a plan to establish a “major alliance” in the European Parliament with other right-wing figures in Italy and Hungary. The party is loyal.

“I read in the media that you are all frustrated,” she joked, cheering and “President of Maritime Affairs“And “We are going to win.”

However, despite being re-appointed as the head of RN with 98% of the votes, there were still voices of dissatisfaction during the two-day event-some people doubted whether her attempt to attract a wider, more mainstream audience alienated the core The voters threatened her to participate in the presidential runoff with President Emmanuel Macron.

Valérie Igounet, a far-right expert at the School of Political Science, said that the failure to win at least one area “has lost momentum for the party”. “We can already see In the polls The gap between her and Macron is getting bigger and bigger. .. She basically has no choice but to remobilize her supporters. “

During the party congress in Perpignan, KMT supporters stood up and applauded the arrival of the party leader ©Valentine Chapuis/AFP/Getty

Perpignan, close to the Spanish border, is the largest town operated by RN Louis Eliot Became mayor last year. But because of the disappointing results of the recent elections, Le Pen was accused of ignoring local politics and supporting national deals.

“Today, we look like eternal seconds. This is okay… Demobilize voters in the national assembly to participate in the presidential election,” Romain Lopez, the town’s registered nurse, told the Associated Press.

Since losing to Macron in 2017, Le Pen has stepped up the campaign to detoxify the party’s image and changed its name. 2018She had previously expelled her father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was convicted of making anti-Semitic remarks. She reached out to the center-right politicians.Recently she touted National Unity Government, If she is elected.

The 93-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen said last week that “even policies that are compatible with traditional rights and reconcile with power are subject to severe sanctions”. He called it a “political error” and warned that it “will translate into election failure.”

Bruno Lerognon, a local politician from Gerot in the south department, Say In an open letter Le Pen’s strategy of opening up to other parties is “ridiculous” and she ignores the dangers of the grassroots.

In Perpignan, despite her strict control of the party, some people quietly agreed: “She is a bit stuck. She can’t work harder without losing some of the support she has established,” a young representative said.

“What keeps young people away is all the political transactions,” said Valentin Manent, 32, who came from Paris to attend the conference. “We have to find a balance between making a deal and not postponing as usual young people who don’t want to vote for politics.”

The failure to win the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur southern region last month was blamed by some on RN’s candidate Thierry Mariani, a member of the center-right Republican (LR) party Experienced politicians are also representatives of Le Pen’s attempts to attract a more mainstream audience.

Although the so-called Republican Front was held in Provence-seeing other parties tactically vote to prevent the extreme right from power, Le Pen’s bet is that she can win enough moderate right votes to overcome it next year.

At the Rassemblement National rally in Perpignan, local politician Brigitte Gazel believed that Marine Le Pen would “be tougher”
Brigitte Gazel, a local politician at a national rally in Perpignan, believed that Marine Le Pen would “be tougher” © David Keohane/FT

“There is no doubt that our biggest victory in the past 10 years has been an almost ideological victory… Convincingly, it is enough to listen to LR plagiarizing us happily, especially during the campaign.” Le Pen said on Sunday. .

But she must pass the first round and be able to benefit-if she loses again, her leadership of registered nurses will be questioned. She focused on mobilizing her foundation and the vast majority of voters who were angry with the president, warning that those who “abstained from voting were handing victory to one person: Macron.”

In the streets of Perpignan, Cyril Poulard, a 44-year-old car mechanic and registered nurse voter, summed up the disillusionment of many far-right sympathizers, saying: “Politics is not important if she is not going to be elected anyway”.

Because some people worry about her relative moderateness, Le Pen must also face the risk of being outflanked by the right. Eric Zemur is an ultra-conservative TV editor who has faced allegations of hate speech.He accused Le Pen “Speak like Emmanuel Macron” And it can run next year.

“Many people in the party agree with Zemmour, but we don’t want him to vote to prevent Marine from entering the second round. That would be stupid,” Manent said.

Laboratory technician, local registered nurse politician, and self-proclaimed fortune teller Brigitte Gazel affirmed that Zemmour would not run anyway: “I have seen it.”

The 59-year-old Geisel walked towards the meeting while waving the French flag and shouting Le Pen’s slogans. He also said that he doesn’t have to worry about RN’s opportunity: “You will see that Marine will become tougher.”

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