The dangerously seductive new face of the French far-Right

December 7, 2015 1:00 pm

 Marion Marechal Le Pen has boosted in the polls since the Paris terror attacks. Photo / Getty

She is the girl wonder of the far-Right, a glamorous 25-year-old
poised to break down many mainstream conservatives’ qualms about casting
their vote for the Front National.
Since she was elected as the
youngest MP in French parliamentary history, aged 22, while a Sorbonne
law student, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, niece of the party’s president
Marine and granddaughter of its obstreperous founder Jean-Marie, has had
the steepest learning curve in French politics since Bonaparte’s.
(On Sunday night) buoyed by the shock of the Islamist shootings in
Paris, the list she heads is widely expected to come in first in the
Provence-Cote d’Azur region, with polls giving her some 40 per cent of
the vote. Even if the third-ranking Socialists drop out to favour her
Gaullist opponent in next Sunday’s runoff, Marion, as she is known, can
give the FN a shot at ruling one of ’s most dynamic regions.
“regionales” will mark the Day of Marion, a new-look, formidably
effective politician, who day after day has been making her mark.

The prime-time debate a month ago between the former prime
minister and presidential hopeful Alain Juppe, 72, and Ms Marechal-Le
Pen, the FN’s sole MP, looked to be an unequal battle. The Bordeaux
mayor expected an easy win. It didn’t go that way.
With the odd
toss of her long blond hair, the poised Ms Marechal Le Pen trounced one
of France’s best-known political figures. She gave back soundbite for
soundbite, quoting from Juppe’s campaign platform verbatim, forcing him
to look up his own points in the book he signed, and dropping on
occasion the kind of Latin quote, Boris Johnson-like, which France’s
Right-wing electorate loves. She made him sound old without sounding
In debate, she is cool and literate, a style better suited
to television than Marine’s rabble-rousing oratory. It enables her to
make careful points on immigration, Islam and French identity. The
mother of a one-year-old girl, with a businessman husband, Marion ticks
many boxes neither Marine nor Jean-Marie Le Pen can fill.
Marine, who lives unmarried with her partner and her three children from
her second husband, says she is unpopular with Catholics because of her
divorces, Marion tied the knot in church before she had her daughter
Olympe. Marine’s chief adviser, a former Leftist Socialist, was outed as
gay when holidaying with his partner: Marion supported the movement
against gay marriage with brought millions in the streets in 2012.
Le Pen’s new voters largely come from the Left; Marion’s from the
mainstream Right. The obvious advantages mean that any rivalry will have
to wait.

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