Marine Le Pen is looking for an electoral boost in the French Riviera

In southern France, Marine Le Pen is hoping her far-right party is about to break a glass ceiling by winning and consolidating regional elections. Opportunities to become president next year.

Although the winner of Sunday’s vote in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur will only deal with local issues such as transport and school buildings, the stakes are high as Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) could take over for the first time one of the French. 13 regions.

This would give her party a chance to prove that it can govern more than the small towns it has ruled so far. With RN making a strong candidate, the odds that Le Pen’s hopes will come to fruition also look good.

“If the RN wins PACA, it will be a real event… It will show that the traditional political parties can no longer stop it,” said Dominique Resnais, the political science professor who heads the party. Fundabol think tank. “If they capture an area, that means they can take over the country.”

Le Pen has recruited the National Republican Party’s regional candidate, Thierry Mariani, a seasoned politician from the center-right Les Républicains (LR) party, betting he will have credibility with voters. These tactics are all part of Le Pen’s efforts to normalization The extremist movement founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in the 1970s.

They seem to be working. Mariani’s list of local officials is topping the polls, both in the first round on Sunday and in the matches expected for the second round on June 27. Nationally, the RN also holds first place in six regions and is on track to surpass its 2015 regional performance when it won the most first-round votes.

At an election rally in the medieval town of Brignoles, LR Vice President Renaud Muselier urged voters not to fall into Le Pen’s trap, arguing that Mariani was a “Trojan horse” to attract voters from the traditional right. “It’s alarming that people confuse presidential and local elections – don’t make that mistake!” He told a crowd of several hundred.

However, many politicians seem to be doing just that, making this year’s regional vote a rehearsal for next May’s presidential election. Parties are jostling for influence like opinion polls, in a Prepared In 2017, they expected a tough race with President Emmanuel Macron and Le Pen facing off in the second round.

Adding to the stakes on Sunday, two of the presidential candidates, Valérie Pécresse and Xavier Bertrand, are looking to win in the Ile-de-France and Hauts-de-France regions. Everyone wants to prove that they Best Gaullist LR Party Standard Stand.

Perhaps most importantly, regional elections will test the political alliances and tactical voting that is key to the French two-round electoral system and can make results highly unpredictable.

Under an approach known as Before sit’s aPublishingVoters from both the left and the right often vote tactically to prevent the far right from winning and, in their view, protect the ideals of equality and the rule of law. In 2002, this prevented Jean-Marie Le Pen from winning the presidency. In 2017, he also helped Macron beats Marine Le Pen.

either it was front pit’s aPublishing Happening again remains an open question. Much depends on what the left does – namely if the candidates withdraw, then their supporters will vote tactically against the National Front.

In southern France, an unpalatable leftist alternative would effectively hand the region over to the far right. As for the center-right, his desire to fend off the National Front led Muselier to sign an unexpected alliance with Macron’s party, a move in the end. It backfired as it ignited a firestorm in his camp.

During his election campaign in Marseille, Mariani rejected the idea that the National Front was a threat to democratic values. “The RN party today is like any other, and it has nothing to do with the caricatures of the past,” he said at a rally.

Referring to Le Pen’s 2018 conviction for denying the gravity of the gas chambers in the Holocaust, he added, “Marine Le Pen has not been convicted of a crime, nor does she have the same linguistic transgressions that her father did before.”

The second round of the French voting scheme for Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

On the contrary, Mariani said, the FN was “ahead of its time” on issues such as crime and immigration. “If we win, I think it will be good for the region. If Marine Le Pen wins, it will be good for France.”

Returning to Brignole, his opponent Muselier strongly disagreed that the RPA had developed or was qualified to administer a 5-meter area. party called by old name, The National Front to recall its roots.

“They are the same people and the same ideas, but they are stronger and more dangerous because they are camouflaged,” he told reporters afterwards. “I’m trying to unmask them.”

Christelle Laguerre, a professor at the University of Avignon who studies the far right, said that the far right has done well in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is not entirely surprising.

In the 1960s, many French people residing in Algeria were known as Blackfoot It moved to the region when the North African country gained its independence, giving rise to the then-new far-right movement.

Such loyalties have faded with time, Laguerre said. But instead, many of today’s RN voters are younger Working class members are angry about what they see as growing income inequality, poor access to housing, and the feeling that they pay too much tax while immigrants get more government assistance.

However, Laguerre is not convinced that the Royal Army will achieve a victory here. “For 20 years, people expected they would win in the region, but they haven’t yet,” she said.

“It is difficult for them to attract candidates and competent people . . . There is a paradox for a party that wins votes, helped by abstentions, but a very weak political structure.”

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