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Anti-immigration Le Pen Likely to Gain After Paris Attacks

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Thursday, 19 Nov 2015 09:24 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front Party, sometimes dubbed France’s Donald Trump, appears likely to make gain big political gains following the tragic Paris shooting Nov. 13.

That was the unanimous opinion Monday of three European political analysts with whom I spoke who have closely watched the rise of Le Pen, a hardliner on the issue of immigration.

On the morning after the Paris shootings, Le Pen told reporters: “The president has declared the state of emergency and the permanent control at the borders.  That is good.  But whatever the European Union says, it is necessary that France recovers the power over her national borders forever.”

In 2012, LePen ran for President on a platform of stopping illegal immigration. deporting a bulk of illegal immigrants and ending the regrouping of families. She placed third (17 percent) behind Socialist nominee and eventual winner Hollande, and then incumbent President and center right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy. 

A day before the shooting that claimed 129 lives,  an IFOP poll showed Le Pen actually leading a crowded race for president in 2017 with 28 percent of the vote, followed by Sarkozy with 23 percent and Hollande 21 percent.

If former Foreign Minister Alan Juppe were the candidate of the center-right Republicans instead of Sarkozy, the poll found, he would edge Le Pen by 31.5 percent to 29 percent, with Hollande again trailing in third place with 20 percent.

“FN stands out from all other parties today in its criticism of government policy and action,” professor John Gaffney, co-director of the Aston Center for Europe, told me. “There is a growing exasperation and real sense of vulnerability and worry. And there is a general sense in the media today by experts that security and information is inadequate to the situation, and that what happened Friday will happen again.”

Gaffney’s opinion was strongly seconded by Dr. Ruth Wodek, professor at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom and author of “The Politics of Fear: What Right-wing Populist Discourse Means.”

“Le Pen will certainly instrumentalise this tragedy, as do all populist right-wing parties currently,” Wodek told me. “The Paris attacks give the them much fuel for their propaganda, as you see from the Polish and Hungarian reactions [in calling for a harder line against immigration following the Paris shootings].

“Blaming the refugees will probably trigger a scapegoat rhetoric, although the reasons for these attacks are most certainly much more complex: the upcoming climate meeting in Paris; Peace talks in Vienna yesterday, etc. Isis is losing ground in Syria and wants to destruct any reasonable and potentially peace-leading dialogues.”

Philippe Moreau Chevrolet, veteran French journalist and now head of the MCBG Conseil marketing and advertising firm, feels “it is possible Le Pen will gain from [the shootings].  She was already unusually strong before this.  Hollande’s strategy will be to appear as the only person capable of being able to stop her and her followers.”

But, he quickly added, “it’s difficult to know whether this will strategy will work.  Hollande is widely unpopular.  We stand behind him now, you have to ask yourself: ‘Do the French people really want him as president.’” 

"When he ran last time, nobody expected him to become president — probably not even Hollande himself.  But then [former IMF head Dominique] Strauss-Kahn, who was considered the strongest Socialist candidate, was brought down by scandal and Hollande was nominated. He went on to win because Sarkozy was so unpopular.”

Moreau Chevrolet believes that even after the tragedy of last Friday, “many French citizens feel Hollande does not have the ability to be a war president.  He did not look as though he fell easily into that role—just like George W. Bush didn’t after 9/11.”

As to whether the analogies of Le Pen to Trump are accurate, Moreau Chevrolet said: “She’s a ‘Trump-ette’ for sure, but her father [ party founder Jean Marie Le Pen] is more like Donald Trump himself.  Like Trump, he is a master of provoking outrage and getting attention by taunting opponents.  Imagine what the elder Le Pen would have done with Twitter if they had it when he was coming up in politics!”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front Party, sometimes dubbed France’s Donald Trump, appears likely to make gain big political gains following the tragic Paris shooting Nov. 13.
paris, le pen, terror, isis
Thursday, 19 Nov 2015 09:24 PM
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