National Front party leader Marine Le Pen just accomplished a feat that just months ago was deemed laughable and entirely impossible by international global elites: placing second in the first of two French presidential elections and qualifying for the May 7 runoff election.
Le Pen was expected to place second with 21.7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial initial projections, while independent centrist Emmanuel Macron of the progressive En Marche! party was estimated to win first place with 23.7 percent of the vote in a breathtakingly close contest among a crowded field of 11 presidential candidates. In the final days before Sunday’s elimination round, four main contenders rose above the pack: Le Pen, Macron, center-right François Fillon of the Republican Party, and far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the France Unbowed movement.
“France has signed over important sovereign rights. There is too much tolerance to terrorism, [and] lack of independence and self-dominion, [as] external authorities rule the country.”
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The almost meteoric rise of the nationalist Le Pen and her populist movement has been compared to President Donald Trump’s astonishing electoral upset and the United Kingdom’s June 23 “Brexit” vote to exit the European Union. Le Pen’s stunning victory, entering the runoff stage of the French contest, has proven her momentum remains strong with voters across the western world who believe globalist policies have gone too far.
Trump teased the outcome of the election Sunday, tweeting hours before the results poured in, “Very interesting election currently taking place in France.”
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Le Pen accomplished the incredible feat of taking the National Front — a right-wing nationalistic party that long was considered to stand at the fringe of French politics — and bringing it to the forefront of the French political debate.
Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, led the National Front party from 1972 to 2011, when his daughter took the reins.
Under Jean-Marie, the National Front struggled to buck a fringe image. The party was regularly accused of racism and anti-Semitism due to the comments and views of some members. When Marine Le Pen took command of the party she purged those members and remade the party as a mainstream option for French voters who wanted to protect their national heritage and sovereignty.
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Le Pen even expelled her father from the party he once led, in 2015, after he uttered another bout of controversial statements.
Like his daughter, Jean-Marie once edged out the competition against nearly every expectation to become a presidential finalist in 2002 against the unpopular incumbent President Jacques Chirac in his bid for a second term. Jean-Marie’s success stunned the French and the world at large when he edged out his far more mainstream competitors and led to an intense election autopsy analyzing the French electorate’s political climate and the pollsters’ pre-election accuracy.
Chirac, however, won the runoff election against Jean-Marie in the largest landslide the French had ever seen, by garnering more than 82 percent when almost all other French political parties rallied behind the unpopular incumbent president as the lesser of two evils.
But in 2017, Le Pen is a viable contender to win the ultimate contest, riding a worldwide wave of populism.
France has weathered a turbulent series of challenges in recent years. The nation has been particularly hard-hit by radical Islamic terrorism, struggled to boost economic growth, and seen an erosion of national sovereignty as bureaucrats at the EU consolidate more power.
“France has signed over important sovereign rights. There is too much tolerance to terrorism, [and] lack of independence and self-dominion, [as] external authorities rule the country,” a 21-year-old Le Pen voter named Jacques told The Guardian. “I was usually socialist, but in the recent years France has changed dramatically. France is not the country I was born in.”
Le Pen unapologetically ran on a platform that fully embodied the populist-conservative and anti-globalization spirit that captured U.S. and U.K. voters. With the campaign slogan of “economic patriotism” and the promise to help France “remain France,” Le Pen promised to “Make France Great Again,” an homage to Trump’s own slogan.
Critics of Le Pen have argued that even if she made the runoff, the populist candidate would not win the final contest.
“[The polls] also said that Brexit wasn’t going to happen, that Donald Trump wasn’t going to be elected — wasn’t even going to be his party’s nominee,” Le Pen told Anderson Cooper in a March 5 interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
“Well, they’re saying that less and less now,” Le Pen continued. “They are much more cautious — much more cautious.”
Although the polls taken just prior to the French election indicated the four frontrunners were neck and neck, roughly 25 percent of voters still remained undecided on the election’s eve. Many speculated the latest terrorist attack that occurred Thursday in Paris may have contributed to last-minute decisions in Le Pen’s favor.
Trump himself suggested the idea in a tweet Friday, in which he said, “Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!”
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