The young star is seen as more conservative than her aunt—party leader Marineby Josh Lowe / December 7, 2015 / Leave a comment
“Marion Marechal-Le Pen is France’s future,” one elderly voter told Reuters last month. The idea that the striking 25-year-old Front National MP, niece of party leader Marine and granddaughter of founder Jean-Marie, represents anything close to the mainstream of French politics might alarm those who deplore her party’s far-right, racially-driven platform. But since she became France’s youngest member of parliament in modern times three years ago, there’s no denying that Le Pen the younger has been a phenomenon.
In the first round of France’s latest regional elections, held yesterday, Marechal-Le Pen scored above 40 per cent in the southern Provence-Alps-Cote-d’Azur region. That means she’s likely to bring home a landmark win in the run-offs next week, and she and her aunt could win control of two of France’s 13 “super regions” (Marine is running in a northern region which includes Calais.) It would bring little actual power—regions have a largely administrative function over dry policy areas like public transport, education and tourism. But symbolically it would be a huge step forward for the insurgent party, and another move towards granting Marine the presidency in 2017.
Marechal-Le Pen’s politics are traditional and unbending. She is a socially conservative right-wing Catholic, who makes an annual pilgrimage to Chartres, has pledged to cut subsidies to family planning clinics in her region, and participated in 2013 anti-Gay marriage demonstrations in France. Economically, she is seen as sharing her Grandfather’s right-liberal views—she is a vocal supporter of entrepreneurs and businesspeople. On both counts, her opinions are distinct from Marine’s. The party leader has sought to tone down some of her party’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and pursue a more protectionist economic line in an attempt to “detoxify” the Front National brand and win working class votes.