French Presidential Vote Loser Le Pen Hails ‘Historic’ Score, Vows New Political Movement

French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party, Marine Le Pen delivers a speech after being defeated in the second round of the French presidential elections at the Chalet du Lac in Paris, France, 07 May 2017. Photo: Ian Langsdon/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • Loser Marine Le Pen has nonetheless celebrated her achievement in France’s 2017 presidential elections.
  • Sunday’s vote brought the highest number of voters the National Front has ever gotten.
  • Le Pen has vowed the transformation of the far-right party into a ‘new political movement’.
  • She has once again been criticized by her father, who has accused her entourage for the election failure.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, who has been defeated in Sunday’s presidential elections by centrist Emmanuel Macron, has nonetheless celebrated the election results as her formation’s highest electoral score ever.

39-year-old Macron beat Le Pen by roughly 65% to 35% of the votes in the runoff on Sunday, May 7, becoming the youngest President ever of France’s Fifth Republic.

In the first round of the elections on April 23, Macron prevailed over Le Pen with 24% to 21.3% of the votes.

Le Pen has been highly controversial as a presidential candidate on a number of counts ranging from her goal is to get France out of the EU, and even dissolve the Union, to her close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and receiving funding from a Russian bank, and her comments disparaging the Holocaust and the deportation of French Jews to Nazi death camps during World War II.

Among other things, she and her National Front have been implicated in a scandal with fake jobs abusing some EUR 5 million of European Parliament funding.

‘Historic Result’

In something like a concession speech following the announcement of the first results from the elections, defeated French Far-right leader Le Pen told supporters on Sunday night that the country had chosen the “continuity candidate” in centrist Emmanuel Macron. She did wish her rival well, France24 reported.

At the time, however, Le Pen claimed a “historic, massive result” for her far-right National Front (FN), and said she was going to lead the party into June’s parliamentary elections.

In the first round of the French presidential elections, Le Pen won nearly 7.7 million votes, which then was an all-time high.

In the second round, she is estimated to have won some 9-11 million votes, another record for her party.

In 2002, Marine Le Pen’s farther, and then National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen lost to Jacques Chirac with 6.2 million votes, or 17.8% of the vote

A quick flashback reminds that in the past four presidential elections in France, the votes of the far-right National Front party have been over 10% of the total number: 17.8% in 2002, 10.4% in 2007, 17.9% in 2012, and now about 34%.

‘New Political Force’

In her speech, the far-right leader vowed a “profound transformation” of the Front National to create “a new political force”.

While she did not elaborate, there have been speculations that she might want to dissolve her party, and start a new political movement aimed at “a major political reorganisation around the divide between patriots and globalists”.

“Our patriotic and republican alliance will be the primary force of opposition to the program of the new president,” Le Pen declared.

She argued that the mainstream political parties which supported Emmanuel Macron for the French Presidency could no longer be considered a credible opposition.

“I will lead patriots against globalists,” the far-right leader promised, arguing that she would be at the forefront of the battle for French identity over the next five years.

Florian Philippot, a senior National Front figure, has suggested to French media the party, which despite Le Pen’s efforts to detoxify still carries an image of racism and anti-Semitism, will soon be renamed.

Marion Marechal Le Pen, Marine’s niece and one of the Front National’s only two MPs, acknowledged “some disappointment” after Macron’s victory and called for a period of “reflection” on the party’s campaign strategy.

Daddy Criticism

Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen’s father, the National Front’s anti-Semitic founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, blamed his daughter’s entourage for her defeat.

He argued that her shift of the issue of single-currency euro, and pensions cost her the election.

Jean-Marie Le Pen also criticized his daughter’s performance in her final presidential debate.

Jean-Marie Le Pen and his daughter Marine Le Pen have been at odds since Marine Le Pen launched moves to clean the National Front’s image of xenophobic associations in the run-up to the campaign for the 2017 presidency.

Far-right veteran Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked the world in 2002 by qualifying for the second round of the presidential election and then went on to lose in a landslide to conservative Jacques Chirac.

He was frequently accused of making xenophobic and anti-Semitic statements and his daughter Marine Le Pen expelled him from the party in 2015.

Yet, as the party’s founder, he remains a well-known figure and represents a body of opinion in the party. In another sign of his influence, the National Front has borrowed about 6 million euros from a political fundraising association he heads.

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