Marine Le Pen: who is French politician and Macron’s presidential election rival - her policies explained

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Far-right politician Marine Le Pen made historic gains in the French parliamentary election as President Emmanuel Macron lost his majority

Marine Le Pen‘s far-right party National Rally gained 89 seats in France’s parliamentary election held from 12-19 June.

This was more than ten times the number of seats National Rally achieved in 2017, when they won just eight seats.

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Meanwhile, the election marked a failure for French president Emmanuel Macron, as his coalition lost its absolute parliamentary majority.

Le Pen has transformed her image in recent years, moving the focus of her political rhetoric from immigration to economic issues.

Now with significant representation in the National Assembly, Le Pen’s far-right ideas may have more influence on French politics.

Who is Marine Le Pen?

Le Pen, 53, is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the 93-year-old far right politician and Holocaust denier who was President of the National Front from 1972-2011.

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The National Front (renamed National Rally in 2018) is a far-right party which runs on an anti-immigration platform.

Le Pen took over as President of the National Front from her father from 2011.

As president, Le Pen attempted to soften the image of the National Front, expelling some members who were accused of racism and anti-semitism, including her father.

She also reversed the party’s opposition to same-sex partnerships and unconditional abortion, and revoked its support for the death penalty.

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Marine Le Pen was president of the National Front (renamed National Rally in 2018) from 2011-2021Marine Le Pen was president of the National Front (renamed National Rally in 2018) from 2011-2021
Marine Le Pen was president of the National Front (renamed National Rally in 2018) from 2011-2021 | AFP via Getty Images

What are Le Pen’s policies?

Although Le Pen did reform the National Rally to some extent during her time as president, she continues to support many of its core historical policies, particularly its anti-immigration stance.

In campaign rallies, Le Pen has focused on discussing the economic crisis affecting Europe and the world, and blaming it on previous politicians.

She plans to scrap income tax for under 30s, to cut VAT on energy from 20% to 5.5%, and 0% on certain essential products such as nappies in the short term.

President Emmanuel Macron has a slight lead in the pollsPresident Emmanuel Macron has a slight lead in the polls
President Emmanuel Macron has a slight lead in the polls | POOL/AFP via Getty Images

She has also campaigned on a policy of early retirement at age 60 for those who have worked 40 years.

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Le Pen is a Eurosceptic, although her anti-EU rhetoric has softened since she lost the 2017 election. Since that time she has discussed immigration policies like certain border controls that may contravene EU rules.

She also wants French laws to take precedence over EU legislation, which could also cause France to leave the EU.

Her environmental policy includes opposition to wind farms and support for nuclear energy.

What happened during the French Presidential election?

The presidential election was held in two rounds on 10 and 24 April this year and saw incumbent centrist Emmanuel Macron defeat Le Pen with just under a third more votes.

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Macron’s diplomacy during the Russian invasion of Ukraine gave him a boost in the polls leading up to election day, but Le Pen has continued to close in.

Macron wins is the first French president in two decades to win re-election, but his margin of victory was significantly reduced from 2017.

In the previous presidential election, Macron had almost double the number of votes as Le Pen.

What happened during the French parliamentary election?

Macron’s coalition, made up of his own centrist party La République En Marche! (LREM) and other centrist and left leaning parties secured 245 seats, short of the 289 seats needed for a majority.

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In the 2017 election, Macron’s coalition gained a strong majority, with 350 seats.

The left-wing anti-capitalist coalition NUPES gained 131 votes in 2022, while the far-right National Rally gained 89 seats.

This means, that if Macron is unable to find common ground with members of NUPES, his government is likely to suffer from gridlocks throughout his term.

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