She probably won’t win in 2012, but perhaps when all the socialists/ communists die off, France will once again be a great power…without being crushed under the burden of millions of Muslim immigrants living off the state. Le Pen had the socialists’ heads exploding last year when she compared the swarms of Muslim asslifters praying in streets to the Nazi Occupation.
The right wing French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is winning the youth vote in the buildup to the first round of voting, as she attempts to style herself as an “anti-elite” candidate railing against immigration and defending the soul of small-town France.
The leader of the Front National has the support of 26% of voters aged 18 to 24, according to a survey for Le Monde, with the Socialist Francois Hollande on 25%, Nicolas Sarkozy on 17% and the hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 16%.
Capitalising on the working-class and protest vote, she has risen in popularity among young people – mainly those from poorer backgrounds – partly because of France’s crippling youth unemployment problem, which has fuelled suggestions that what scarce jobs exist should be for the French first, not immigrants. In the 1990s, her father scored well among young people who felt they had no prospects.
But Le Pen’s general poll ratings have slipped since the start of the year. She is now fighting for third place and no longer threatens to eliminate Sarkozy in the first-round vote on 22 April.
Her support base means she will still play a crucial role in the final runoff on 6 May, which is expected to pit Sarkozy against Hollande. In 2002 France was stunned when Le Pen Sr knocked out the Socialist Lionel Jospin and reached the runoff. The political class remains cautious over a last-minute surge or upset by the Front National.
Sarkozy, who lurched to the right in 2007 to win over far-right voters and prided himself in decimating the Front National, has once again been poaching on Le Pen’s ground, aware that he cannot win this election without such backing. He has followed the Front National’s agenda: the secret menace of halal meat on the nation’s dinner plates, promising to halve immigration, and warning of the danger of the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone. He declared there were too many foreigners in France.
Since the Toulouse shootings by a French unemployed panel-beater, Mohamed Merah, Le Pen has tried to hit back at Sarkozy with scathing attacks on the state of France, linking immigration, terrorism, crime, radical Islamism and France’s poor high-rise estates. “How many Mohamed Merahs are on the boats and planes that arrive in France every day filled with immigrants?” she asked. “How many Merahs are among the immigrants’ children who don’t integrate?”
Le Pen stands at about 13-16% in the overall polls, more than 10 points behind Sarkozy. For the president, that is a useful figure – not too strong and not too weak. He will hope Le Pen’s supporters rally behind him in the runoff.
In Le Pen’s southern heartlands on the Cote d’Azur this weekend, Sarkozy appealed to far-right voters. “I understand their suffering, but voting Front National will only increase that suffering,” he said. “I can’t accept an immigration motivated only by the hope of accessing France’s generous social benefits.” In a dig at halal meat, he added: “In our school canteens we want the same menus for all the children of a secular republic.”
Le Pen told a rally in rural France that she was the candidate of the forgotten and invisible, railing against hypermarkets killing off local commerce in small towns, and what she claimed was state money being poured into suburban ghettos. She wants to bring France out of the euro, but her economic policy has proved a weak point among the electorate.