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.
Striding into the limelight in 2012 when, at 22, she was one of two Front National candidates to win the party’s first seats in a quarter of a century, Marechal-Le Pen has won a reputation as a formidable debater and a confident campaigner. She took apart conservative Presidential hopeful Alain Juppe in a TV debate last month, the…