Saturday, June 10, 2023

Le Pen’s far-right vision: reinventing France at home, abroad

PARIS ( Associated Press) — No more Muslim headscarfs in public. All school children in uniform. Laws proposed and passed by referendum. Liberal social services are not available to foreigners unless they have held a job for five years.

This is just a sample of Marine Le Pen’s vision for France if the far-right leader wins Sunday’s presidential election. Against the current Emmanuel Macron. In all respects France and France will be in the first place.

Polls paint Macron as front-runner in Sunday’s voteBut Le Pen’s victory is possible – an outcome that could shake France’s system of governance, instill fear among its immigrants and Muslims, shock the dynamics of the EU, and upset NATO allies.

Macron, 44, a centrist who is ardently pro-EU, has consistently blasted his adversary as a threat and framed his election showdown as an ideological battle. For the soul of the nation. Le Pen, 53, sees Macron as a progressive technocrat, for whom France is a part of the European Union.

She says she will restructure the country’s political system and the French constitution to accommodate her populist agenda, put the European Union in second place and keep France true to its core principles.

“I intend to be the president who gives people their voices back in their own country,” Le Pen told a news conference.

Critics are a threat to democracy under Le Pen, a nationalist who coexists with Hungary’s autocratic prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and immigrant far-right parties elsewhere in Europe. Le Pen met with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the 2017 French presidential election that he lost to Macron in a landslide.

The United States has long regarded France as its oldest ally, but Le Pen’s presidency has been a problem for the Biden administration by undermining trans-Atlantic unity over sanctions against Russia and reinforcing autocratic populists elsewhere in Europe. can produce.

National rally leaders are also wary of free-trade deals and will seek a more independent stance for France at the United Nations and other multilateral bodies.

In a column published on Thursday in several European newspapers, centre-left leaders in Germany, Spain and Portugal warned about “populists and extreme right-wingers” who position Putin as “an ideological and political model who imitate his conservative views.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa wrote, “They have echoed their attacks on minorities and their goal of diversity and nationalist homogeneity.”

Le Pen’s meeting with Putin five years ago influenced his campaign in the midst of Russia’s war in Ukraine, even though he has condemned the invasion “without ambiguity”.

But if she were president, Le Pen said she would think twice about supplying arms to Ukraine And will oppose energy sanctions against Moscow – for the sake of the Russian people.

She also said she would pull France out of NATO military command, undermining the Western military alliance’s united front against Moscow, and should have a “strategic relationship” with Russia after the war ended.

Macron has called for similar policies in the past and sought to reach out to Putin. But his government says it has sent more than 100 million euros ($108 million) of weapons to Ukraine since the war began, and France has been the focus of the West’s tough sanctions against Russia.

Le Pen projected a nurturing image throughout her campaign, saying she would see France as the “mother of the family”. He has focused on the purchasing power of consumers while steadfastly on the symbolic issues that define a distant right such as immigration, security, national identity and sovereignty.

To cushion the shock of rising prices, Le Pen wants to reduce taxes on energy bills from 20% to 5.5%. She promises to put 150-200 euros ($162-$216) back per month in consumers’ pockets.

Former French economy minister and banker Macron considers such measures wrong and economically impractical.

Le Pen insists that his agenda addresses the “forgotten France” he has ignored.

She has proposed a “referendum revolution” as the centerpiece of her plan to help heal the “democratic fracture”, which she says is responsible for low turnout and growing social discord in the recent French elections. Is responsible.

Laws could be passed by referendum – bypassing elected lawmakers – after supporters gathered the signatures of 500,000 eligible voters, it was the demand for the sometimes violent “yellow vest” movement that led to Macron’s presidency two years earlier. was challenged.

Le Pen said this month, “During my mandate, I rely on consulting people – the only expert I’ve ever consulted Emmanuel Macron.”

But there is a hindrance.

To give citizens such a direct voice in law making would require the French constitution to be amended. This would also need to change for another major Le Pen goal: giving French citizens a “national preference” for state housing and job benefits before foreigners.

Macron failed in his attempt to change the constitution, a complicated process that required the support of both houses of parliament. Le Pen seeks to avoid this by using a special article in the constitution such as General Charles de Gaulle did in 1962 to allow direct universal suffrage.

“She wants to mobilize a liberal democracy by calling the people,” four professors of constitutional law wrote in the newspaper Le Monde last week.

Le Pen will use a referendum to itemize other items in a controversial package to stop “uncontrolled immigration”. These include treating any asylum seekers abroad, not in France, and, among others, “systematically” expelling migrants without residency; and ending automatic citizenship for foreign parents born in France.

She will also restore uniforms in all schools, and strengthen police powers.

Le Pen has called Muslim headscarves “Islamic uniforms” and proposed a ban on wearing them in public. Macron said in a debate on Wednesday night that such a ban could lead to a “civil war” in the country with Europe’s largest Muslim population.

But an elderly woman in a blue and white headscarf facing Le Pen in the southern city of Pertuis last week may have sabotaged her plan.

“What is the headscarf doing in politics?” he asked Le Pen.

After a scuffle by the woman, Le Pen party officials went under damage control, saying that banning headscarves on the streets would be progressive and not targeting “70s grandmas”.

An embarrassed Le Pen later admitted that the headscarf was a “complicated problem”.


Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the French election


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