By Steve Dellar   |  03-10-2018   News
Photo credit: Credit - Twitter @BigGator5

In a bid to relaunch the party for next year’s European elections, Ms Marine Le Pen, leader of the French nationalist ‘Front National’, holds a two-day congress this weekend in Lille at which she will unveil a rebranding of the party.

The first surprise for the visitors was not the name change that many are awaiting, but the announcement that former White House strategist Mr Steve Bannon would be addressing the crowds.

Many of the party’s supporters think this is an excellent sign as they believe Ms Marine Le Pen needs some strategic help.

Though the National Front exceeded all expectations during last year’s French Presidential Elections (won by Mr Emmanuel Macron) when it pulled in some 39% of the vote during the run-off, Ms Le Pen’s supporters, after the first euphoric weeks, admitted that her debate qualities during a one-on-one with Mr Macron were below par, certainly on economic matters.

<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">President of The National Front, Marine Le Pen, shared pics on twitter showing ISIS abuses of innocent civilians.<br><br>Le Pen was was charged with “distribution of violent images” &amp; faces up to 3yrs in prison <br><br>Watch HERO Le Pen smack around the FAKE MEDIA for their sick hypocrisy! <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Amy Mek (@AmyMek) <a href="">March 6, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Mr Sylvain Crépon, a political sociologist of Paris-based Jean-Jaurès Foundation who studies European political parties, said: "She not only suddenly seemed incompetent, people were also wondering if she actually wanted to be in power."

"And it does make sense when you think about it, after all, she had always refused to become mayor or take on an executive role on a local level."

But now the tide seems to be turning again for the nationalist parties in Europe.

In the central countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary conservative and nationalist parties already make up the government. In western Europa it is clear the tide is turning. Italy saw the Lega Nord take 18%, France has the Front National at 14%, Germany the AfD at 16% and Holland the Party for Freedom of Mr Geert Wilders at 13%.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Bannon to address Front National as French far-right leaders seek unity<a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Donna 🌊🌊❄🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@DonnaPoore5) <a href="">March 10, 2018</a></blockquote>

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It is now everyone’s guess whether Ms Le Pen will continue the softer image she’s been presenting since the Presidential election of last year, or that she will return to her traditional voting base for next year’s European elections.

Head of the Paris-based social sciences university EHESS Mr Hervé Le Bras commented: "Le Pen managed to enlarge the party's very stable voter base of around 20 percent to almost 34 percent in the second round of the presidential elections through her de-demonization strategy."

"But pressure has been mounting on Le Pen to steer away from this softer image since the elections. The FN would in that case lose that additional voter potential."


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