By the Right - 'I hadn't voted for years. Finally, I feel represented.'

  • 0 Replies

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Offline the leveller

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • 4128
  • +75/-0
By the Right - 'I hadn't voted for years. Finally, I feel represented.'
attachments (848 KB) Download all Save all to OneDrive - Personal

'I hadn't voted for years. Finally, I feel represented.' What I learned from meeting Europe's far-right supporters

Populist parties have gathered momentum across Europe following the Brexit voteCREDIT: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
 Katya Adler, bbc europe editor 
4 FEBRUARY 2017 • 7:49PM
Is that him? It’s the sound of his motorbike escort, I’m sure of it!
The heaving crowd I found myself in under the scorching Sicilian sun late last September was edgy, expectant and oh so Italian. Selfie-primed, fake diamond-cased mobile phones glittered all around, while local journalists posed purposefully behind impossibly glamorous sunglasses. 
And who was the handsome leather-clad biker who appeared on a purring Piaggio amidst whoops and yells of adulation? No film star or pop idol, I soon discovered, but Alessandro di Battista, a prominent figure in the populist 5 Star Movement - an opposition party but currently Italy’s most talked-about political group.  
Why the bike and leathers? Couldn’t he preach in a suit on a stage like other politicians, I enquired?  Because, he told me, gesturing to the crowd of admirers, 5 Star was different: “of the people, for the people.” Di Battista’s slogan is not dissimilar to Donald Trump’s rallying cry to 'put America first.’
Alessandro Di Battista of Italy's 5 Star party CREDIT: GIUSEPPE CICCIA/NURPHOTO
It’s a sentiment I’ve been exposed to increasingly of late while filming After Brexit: The Battle for Europe. From Sicily I travelled to Brussels, Paris and Berlin meeting the nationalist-minded, anti-establishment leaders taking Europe by storm. The languages may change, but the message does not.
'Au nom du peuple’ – 'In the name of the people’ is the banner under which French populist Marine Le Pen is currently fighting a campaign to become her country’s next president. Once on the fringes of the far right, the National Front party has seen a resurgence in popularity, and she is a leading candidate for the presidential role. Marine, as she likes to be called, has worked hard to cleanse her party of its virulently anti-Semitic, xenophobic image that thrived under her father’s leadership.
2016 was the year the Anglo-Saxon world woke up – first with Brexit, then with Trump
Marine Le Pen
French voters are no longer ashamed to admit they support the National Front. So does that mean France is lurching to the far right? And that the millions of Europeans now supporting the Danish People’s Party, the Freedom Party in Austria, the Alternative for Germany, the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom and similar movements across Europe are all white supremacist xenophobes? Hardly.
Are all these parties now entirely free of racist, far right elements? Absolutely not.
Marine Le Pen is a leading candidate for the French presidencyCREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
But their party leadership detected yawning gaps in European politics which they’re now successfully exploiting. Take Stockholm, where I met a couple of smartly dressed twenty-somethings at the height of Europe’s recent migrant crisis. There were more asylum seekers per capita in Sweden than any other European country - famed for its liberal values and open society, it was not deemed permissible to openly question immigration.
It was for that reason Jenny and Per were new converts to the far right Sweden Democrats Party. They did not regard themselves as extremists, but the Sweden Democrats was the only political party echoing their concerns at the time, calling for a ban on new arrivals. They had felt voiceless when caught in the country’s political centre. 
A few cross-European flights later and I found myself at a fast food stand in Berlin, listening to a heated conversation about what three German office workers deemed the 'umpteenth Greek bailout’. “We have to help,” a middle-aged woman at the table said. “What have those poor Greeks got?” “That’s what I hate about the damned Euro,” exploded her colleague. “We’re FORCED to help. But why on earth should I dig deep into my pockets?”

It turned out that euro-hater Joerg, a computer programmer, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Alternative for Germany party.  “Why do Germans have be economically liable for everyone else? “I haven’t bothered voting for years,” Joerg admitted. “But AfD says out loud what I think. Finally I feel represented.”  
2017 is election year in Germany and the party has now set its sights on the raging immigration debate. A recent slew of attempted and successful terror attacks and the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers to the country make it impossible to ignore.
“I hate the racist overtones,” a businesswoman in the genteel spa town of Baden Baden told me, “but we can’t continue saying yes to anything and everything European because we’re so desperate to prove ourselves after our dark history. Someone has to say stop. For now that’s the AfD.”   
This is how Europe’s populists have been able to storm their way up the public opinion polls. There’s always a part of society that feels ignored, neglected and left behind by the political establishment but the number of angry and resentful voters has exploded in Europe. The 2008 economic crash, with its devastating impact in the Eurozone countries of the south, the bank bailouts, the apparent inability to control the migrant crisis or protect people from a run of terror attacks has left a growing number of Europeans feeling vulnerable and afraid for the future of their families.

During our own Brexit debate, traditional political parties, big business and the European Union were regularly dismissed as detached, self-serving elites. “2016 was the year the Anglo-Saxon world woke up – first with Brexit, then with Trump,” Marine Le Pen told me when we met at her campaign HQ in Paris. 
“2017 will be the year of European patriots, Madame. You’ll see.” With upcoming elections in France, Germany, the Netherlands and possibly Italy this year, we soon will. Though their policies vary, a Eurosceptic, anti-immigration and nostalgic nationalist vein runs through all of those moving right.
Yet the stigma of the National Front and Austria’s Freedom Party has led them to claim they are 'neither of the right, nor the left’. They have leftist social policies such as demanding dignity for workers while striking the security-minded tones so popular with the right, but above all, they have launched a marketing drive to entice Europe’s anxious middle classes of the political centre.
Whether these parties are elected to office or not, the rise of Ukip in Britain has shown that you don’t have to be in government to significantly affect national politics if the winds of public opinion are blowing in your favour. I’m not convinced that Le Pen will emerge victorious - more likely is that Europe’s anti-establishment parties will perform so well at elections this year that their shout from the sidelines will become even more influential.
It is that thought which is troubling international bodies from the EU to Nato. Many of Europe’s populists, notably Le Pen, are close to Moscow; they are also admirers of President Trump.
Anti-migrant Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, trumpeted that politics would never be the same again after Trump’s recent victory. A weaker Europe and a fractured, even vanquished European Union would suit Putin and his American counterpart. For protectionist Trump it would open up better trade possibilities. For geostrategist Putin it could make easier his aim to reassert Russian influence over eastern and central Europe. 
This is where the explosion of populism in Europe takes on a more global dimension: with much at stake and many nervous of how Trump’s presidency may evolve - particularly after his recent travel ban on citizens from seven countries - voters may be tempted back into the better-the-devil-you-know camp of traditional politics.
There is no telling what might happen: polls are unreliable, accepted wisdom crushed. Europe’s voters are in a volatile frame of mind.

After Brexit: the Battle for Britain is on Thursday, 9 February at 9pm on BBC TwoA Patriotic Spring? | Frontpage Mag
     "Inside Every Progressive Is A Totalitarian Screaming To Get Out"
@horowitz39, David Horowitz

A Patriotic Spring?
After Brexit and Trump, can Geert Wilders pull it off in the Netherlands?
February 2, 2017
Bruce Bawer
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to Facebook 84Share to Twitter Share to More 109Share to Print

While most politicians across Europe – Nigel Farage excepted – responded to Donald Trump's presidential candidacy with sneers of condescension and greeted his
 victory with either grudging congratulations or cries of apocalyptic alarm, Geert Wilders was an outspoken Trump cheerleader all along. The day after the American
 election, the crusading Dutch politician characterized America's verdict as “a political revolution” and a “stunning and historic achievement” that “sent a powerful 
message to the world.” He added: “I never doubted Mr. Trump would win. We are witnessing the same uprising on both sides of the Atlantic. The Patriotic Spring is 
sweeping the Western world.”
Well, let's hope so. So far the only other evidence of any such Patriotic Spring has been Brexit (and even that's starting to look shaky, thanks to the court ruling that 
the British Parliament has to ratify the referendum vote). The next major test of the “Patriotic Spring” will come on March 15, when Wilders's own Freedom Party (PVV) will compete in the elections for the Tweede Kamer, the more powerful lower house of the Dutch Parliament. Things have changed a lot since the last election, in 2012, when the two
 big vote-getters were the left-wing Labor Party (PvdA) and the conservative People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). Wilders's PVV came in far behind,
 more or less tied with three other parties, each of which took about a dozen seats out of 150, the rest being distributed among five even smaller parties. In the wake 
of the 2012 election, the VVD and PvdA formed a coalition government, with VVD head Mark Rutte staying on as Prime Minister.
The new government wasn't in office for long, however, before Wilders's PVV skyrocketed in the polls, becoming the nation's largest party. Next thing you knew – 
surprise! – the demonization of Wilders kicked into high gear. The pretext: in a speech to supporters, he asked if they wanted more or less of the EU, more or less of
 the Labor Party, and more or fewer Moroccans. Wilders's suggestion that the Netherlands might not want to take in limitless numbers of Moroccans outraged pretty
 much the entire Dutch establishment: the political and media elite savaged him; schoolteachers denounced him in classrooms; clergy decried him from pulpits. 
Wilders responded by pointing out that three in five Dutch-Moroccan men under age 23 had rap sheets and that Moroccans were 22 times more likely than ethnic 
Dutchmen to commit violent crimes. But it didn't help. The slime campaign worked. The PVV's numbers dropped, and it became the nation's #3 party.
But not for long. The PVV soon rebounded, and since summer before last, it's been the Netherlands's top-polling party, leading the VVD by a comfortable margin and
 leaving the fast-disappearing PvdA entirely in the dust. After living through their country's distinctively dramatic post-9/11 history – the assassinations of Pim Fortuyn 
in 2002 and Theo van Gogh in 2004, the Ayaan Hirsi Ali debacle that ended with her emigration to the U.S. in 2006, and the rise (and international vilification) of Wilders – Dutch voters seem finally to be on the verge of making the PVV the largest party in the Tweede Kamer.

And it's about time. Given some of the events that have occurred in their neighborhood since 2012 – including mass terror strikes in Paris, Brussels, Nice, and Berlin – and the recognition that these acts have been made easier by reckless EU immigration policies and open borders, it's little wonder that more and more Dutchmen are
 responding positively to Wilders's tough posture on Islam and the EU. This is, after all, a country where Muslims now account for more than a quarter of the
 population of the two largest cities, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and almost equally sizable proportions of The Hague and Utrecht. It's also a country where a court 
recently found Wilders guilty of criticizing Islam – a verdict that seems only to have increased his public support.
In response to the PVV's growing popularity, Rutte has toughened his rhetoric on immigration. But everybody knows it's a phony political move, and in any case it
 doesn't seem to have made much difference. Polls suggest that the PVV may secure as many as a fifth to a quarter of the seats in the Tweede Kamer. But chances
 seem slim, alas, that Wilders will become PM. Under the Dutch system, parties invariably have to strike post-election deals with one another to cobble together
majority coalitions and form governments – and the problem is that the leaders of the Netherlands' political establishment, availing themselves of the famous cordon
 sanitaire approach that is used throughout Europe to isolate non-establishment parties – have already announced their refusal to work with Wilders.
Whatever the results of the March election, then, the VVD and other parties will likely end up forming a wobbly coalition that probably wouldn't last long – and that
would presumably necessitate a new election, in which case Wilders might stand a better chance of winning. To be sure, even if he doesn't get an opportunity to form 
a government, a heavy pro-Wilders vote would, in and of itself, make a strong statement, perhaps even compelling Rutte & co. to take action on the EU and
 immigration. It's hard, however, to imagine them going as far as is necessary to save the Netherlands. For that, we have to hope that the electorate shifts to the
 PVV fast enough to get Wilders in there soon enough to save the day.
Then again, who knows? Like Brexit and Trump, he may end up stunning the world. Mark March 15 on your calendars. Either way, it's going to be a red-letter day.

The great escape.
Revolution of the Right is unstoppable in Europe, warns Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders speaking at a conference of European right-wing parties in January CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

 Peter Foster, europe editor   Senay Boztas, in the hague 
9 FEBRUARY 2017 • 6:00AM
he populist revolution sweeping Europe will continue even if candidates like Marine Le Pen and Austrian far-Right parties do not win power in coming elections, Geert Wilders, the leading Dutch anti-immigrant fireband, predicted on Wednesday.
Currently topping the polls ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections in the Netherlands, Mr Wilders said that the European Union’s failure to grasp popular anger meant that the nationalist “genie” could never be put back in the bottle in Europe.
Geert Wilders with Frauke Petry,  chairwoman of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany and French National Front leader Marine Le Pen  CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
“The days of the old Roman Empire, which the European Union is, are over. They know it and they have been fighting for the last few years to extend it a bit, but this process is irreversible,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Wilders’s performance on March 15 will be the first major test of whether the European political centre can hold during a frantic election year that will see Marine Le Pen run for the French presidency and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, vie for a historic fourth term.
Current polls show that Mr Wilders’s overtly anti-immigrant, anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) has 19 per cent of the vote – enough to win up to 31 seats in the Netherlands’ 150-seat parliament. That is potentially 10 more than his nearest challenger, but far short of the 76 needed to form a government.
Watch | Geert Wilders in 60 seconds


Mark Rutte, the current Dutch prime minister, has said there is “zero chance” that he will enter into coalition with the Party for Freedom, but Mr Wilders remains convinced that if he wins big enough, the other parties will have no choice.
“I want to be prime minister. The question is if they want me to be prime minister,” he said of the raft of five or six parties that could need to unite to keep him out of government.
“The odds of me becoming prime minister, are perhaps not in my favour, but I’m confident that if we get the result, according to the current polls that it is a real possibility,” he says, promising his government would “take back the key to our own front door”.
In echoes of the Trump campaign in America, which Mr Wilders supported, the Party for Freedom will campaign to “Make Holland ‘ours’ again”, promising a referendum on EU membership, the banning of mosques and the Koran and host of populist economic measures on welfare and pensions.
Netherland's Prime minister Mark Rutte CREDIT: AFP
In his latest party election broadcast, Mr Wilders urges his voters to the polls, and says it is "time for change, the Brits did it, the Americans did and we will do it too.”
Britain, he adds, should not fear EU "punishment" over Brexit, since that would only inflict further self-harm on an already ailing institution. 
“It would not be in their interests, or the interests of their own people. We are not talking about Lichtenstein here, but the United Kingdom,” he says.
Although he resists direct comparison with Mr Trump, the 53-year-old Party for Freedom leader shares both the US president’s extravagant hair, his anti-Muslim immigration policy and penchant to use Twitter to bypass the traditional media, with his own following of 700,000 people outstripping the circulation of most national papers.

Geert Wilders speaking to The Telegraph in 2014 CREDIT: GEOFF PUGH/THE TELEGRAPH
The combination of the ongoing immigration crisis, which saw the Netherlands accept nearly 57,000 immigrants in 2015, and massive future migration pressures from Africa that Mr Wilders frets will “erase our identity and our country” will, he believes, mean that centrist forces in the EU will not be able to hold back the rising tide of nationalist, identity politics.
The recent EU summit in Malta, which included new measures to forge links with Libya to stem migration flows and fresh demands for EU solidarity after Brexit, demonstrated the European Union’s failure to understand demands for wholescale change.
“Jean-Claude Juncker, when he prepared for the recent Malta Summit he said he wanted to talk to the African countries, because ‘if we don’t, the populists will win’. They just haven’t internalised the seriousness of the problem,” he said.
The fact that the EU’s migration deal with Turkey and greater efforts to patrol the Mediterranean cut immigration into the Netherlands by half in to 26,500 in 2016 will not – Mr Wilders believes – soften the appeal of his message to the Dutch people.
Although he was recently convicted of inciting racial hatred, ultimately Mr Wilders rejects the tag of ‘bigot’ on the basis that his party has seen its vote share leap in the last decade, stealing votes from the Left, just as Labour is losing votes to Ukip, because people feel let down.
“Those people don’t feel represented by the people that represent them. They have betrayed them, they have deserted them, that’s why my party is getting popular, and getting votes even from socialist parties. People feel nobody is addressing the problems they face every day.”Telegraph 
Madame 'Frexit' looms large as the French political centre disintegrates

8 FEBRUARY 2017 • 9:03PM

The EU establishment is watching with horror as the Front National's Marine Le Pen creeps into real contention 
roject Fear has proved to be a Gallic hostage to fortune. Those malevolent predictions of instant Brexit trauma have played into the hands of Marine Le Pen's Front National.
One quarter of economic data has succeeded another, and then another, and the British economy is still growing faster than the eurozone and faster than France, where the broad (DARES) unemployment toll rose to 4.53m in December.
French economist Jacques Sapir says France has lost 660,000 jobsunder the tenure of President François Hollande, a leader who told the nation that his record should be judged by the employment curve.
It had already shed 392,000 over the preceding eighteen months under the austerity overkill policies imposed on France by the eurozone machinery in the mad years of the crisis, and executed without a murmur of dissent by a certain François Fillon.
Doubtless Britain's Brexit pain is merely deferred, but that was not the argument made at the time, and repeated thereafter in tones of canonical certainty. The French establishment asserted, day-in, day-out, that Britain was already spiraling into crisis.
 "Project Fear was a dreadful mistake. Everybody should have known that it would take at least two years for the fall in direct fixed investment to be felt, " says Giles Merritt from the Friends of Europe think tank in Brussels.
"We now read in Le Monde that the UK has been the fastest growing economy in the G7, so of course Frexiteers are emboldened. Everybody here is transfixed with horror over what is happening in France," he said.
Marine Le Pen has laid out her stall for the first round of the presidential election in April. Her "Free France" manifesto begins with a pledge to restore full sovereign control over the currency, economy, laws, and territory.
"Six months after my election, I will organise a referendum on the withdrawal from the EU. The only currency that will circulate in France will be our new French coin, and the debts will denominated in the national coin," she said.
Ms Le Pen has shrewdly created a smokescreen. She wants to keep the empty shell of the euro - for now - proposing a basket of national currencies akin to the old ECU (European Currency Unit) for use by "states and large companies".
The franc and the euro would in theory co-exist but everything she aims to do necessarily implies monetary divorce, including her plan for the Banque de France to finance treasury debt with printed money. The aim is to ensure that the broad M3 money supply grows at 5pc a year, a form of nominal GDP targeting.
French unemployment has never recovered from the crisis, and the broader measures are still rising CREDIT: INSEE
Her policies look highly expansionary: a state-led industrial blitz behind trade barriers,  or what she calls "intelligent protectionism".  She aims to boost French defence spending from 2pc to 3pc of GDP within five years, beefing up the forces by 50,000, and building a second aircraft carrier, the 'Richelieu'.
Whether she will have the votes in the French parliament to carry through these policies is an open question, but what is clear is that the Front National will secure a very large bloc in the Assembly for the first time. The political centre of gravity will shift dramatically. Those betting that she would be an instant lame-duck may be deluding themselves.
Clemens Fuest from the IFO institute in Munich says Frexit is a "horror scenario" and would destroy monetary union almost instantly. Capital controls would have to be introduced across Europe the day after her election.
But the question rarely explored is exactly how the fall-out from such a shock would be distributed. It is far from clear that France would suffer the sort of ferocious devaluation that some suppose, or would be forced into debt restructuring.
The country is more or less in the 'middle' of the EMU system. The new franc would rise against the lira, the escudo, the drachma, and so forth, but would fall against the D-Mark bloc. The external euro debt contracts of French firms - mostly hedged by external assets in any case - might not change much viz a viz a 'synthetic' post break-up euro.
Two-thirds of France's €2 trillion public debt is owned by foreigners. Markets would clearly act pre-emptively on any sign that French opinion polls were tightening, although the European Central Bank could contain that through the elections.
The risk spread of French 10-year bonds over German Bunds is rising CREDIT: RBC
France might emerge in rough equilibrium, the least destabilized of the big eurozone states. It is Germany and its northern satellites that would have to deal with a violent revaluation shock, you might say the delayed retribution for their chronic current account surpluses within monetary union.
How the Bundesbank would cope with a partial default on €750bn of credits owed by other eurozone central banks under the Target2 payments system is anybody's guess, and by then perhaps it would be a €1 trillion or more. Dr Clemens thinks Berlin would have to issue warnings to investors chasing German assets that the money would be redeemed at a pre break-up exchange rates, otherwise it would overwhelm the financial system. "It is a huge danger to Germany," he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine.
Ms Le Pen still has a formidable wall to climb before she comes anywhere close to taking the Elysée, but her prospects are no longer zero. It is this 'tail-risk' that markets are now discounting. It is why spreads on 10-year French bonds have spiked to 78 basis points, the highest in four years.
All the luck is breaking her way. The Socialists have picked an unelectable candidate from the multicultural, metropolitan Left, who promises laxer migration controls. The party might as well hand over its blue-collar base to the Front National, strategically positioning itself as defender of the sacred 'modèle français' and the working poor.
The stench of corruption hangs over the conservative Republicans, so like the 'notables' of the Orleanist monarchy in the 1830s, immortalized by the lithographic satires of Honoré Daumier.
A Daumier lithograph of corrupt 'notables' in Orleanist France in the 1830s, so like the French governing class today CREDIT: THE MET
Former president Nicholas Sarkozy is to face criminal trial for campaign fraud. François Fillon - just weeks ago the unstoppable Dauphin - is falling apart. What is extraordinary is that Mr Fillon still thinks he can stonewall his way through the 'Penelope' affair - now encompassing €1.5m of alleged public funds - when so many witnesses have emerged to contradict his claims.
Ms Le Pen once faced the prospect of severe defeat at the hands of this former prime minister. A Right-wing cultural Catholic and champion of French identity, he was her competitor for the nationalist vote. Now she has little to fear.
Instead she faces the perfect adversary in Emmanuel Macron, a pro-European globalist with no party machinery and little experience, a man surfing a wave of ephemeral popularity. “It is a duel of patriots against globalists,” she says, rubbing her hands with glee.
A Sofres-Onepoint poll shows that Mr Macron would win by 65:35 in a run-off election but he is yet to be tested, and nothing stands behind him since he turned his back on his own Socialist Party rather than fighting within to change it.
The French economist Thomas Piketty says the problem with Mr Macron is that he defends the indefensible status quo of the EU's Fiscal Compact, "a monumental mistake which has ensnared the eurozone in a fatal trap." That renders his electoral bid almost pointless.
Emmanuel Macron has great charm but he has emerged from nowhere, has no party base, and may prove brittle
The Picketty view - and mine - is that any attempt to overcome the legacy of high debt by running primary budget surpluses for year after year, and decade after decade, is self-defeating. It leads to an investment famine and slow atrophy, ending in civilisational decline if it goes on long enough. It is what Britain did with grim results in the 1920s, before we were - fortuitously - blown out of the deflationary Gold Standard in 1931.
I once heard Mr Macron launch into a lacerating attack on the eurozone's austerity regime - and German policies - at a closed-door meeting in Italy. He knows full well why the eurozone has gone so badly wrong. But in the end he cannot bring himself to rebel. He clings to the illusion that somehow the unworkable structure of monetary union can be repaired, or that Germany will miraculously agree to fiscal union and debt pooling.
As for the polling data, what catches my attention is another survey showing that Ms Le Pen could win 40pc or more in various run-off configurations. It suggests that her campaign of "dédiabolisation" - taking Devil out of the Front National - has partly succeeded. In psephological parlance, her 'negatives' are falling.
The once solid phalanx of French citizens who would never vote for the party of her father and for his Vichy nostalgia has been melting away. If the figure creeps up toward 45pc, it is within the margin of error for populist rebellions. Batten down the hatches.

Marine Le Pen promises revolution for France as she tells rally in Lyon 'The wind of history has turned' with Brexit and Donald Trump s
 Watch | Marine Le Pen takes aim at the EU at campaign launch


Rory Mulholland, Lyon
5 February 2017 • 6:19pm
Far-Right leader Marine Le Penpromised a revolution for France as she officially launched her presidential campaign on Sunday, declaring that the same nationalist forces that propelled Donald Trump to power in the US will take her to victory.
"The wind of history has turned, it will carry us to the summit," she told a cheering crowd of around 3,000 people in Lyon, where a day earlier the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, who leads the race in the opinion polls, also promised to overthrow the established order.
The divide is no longer between the left and right but between patriots and globalistsMarine Le Pen
The words “National Front” - the name of the party founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen - and the family name were nowhere to be seen as the 48-year-old lawyer took to a stage emblazoned with the words “Au nom du peuple” (In the name of the people).
"What is at stake in this election ... is whether France can still be a free nation," Ms Le Pen told the flag-waving supporters at the rally in a congress centre. "The divide is no longer between the left and right but between patriots and globalists!"
Her event came just after Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-Left firebrand who is neck and neck with the ruling Socialist party candidate Benoit Hamon, rallied his supporters a few miles away in another part of Lyon - and appeared as a hologram at another meeting in Paris.
Marine Le Pen gives a speech in Lyon Credit:  JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images
Most polls predict Ms Le Pen will win the first round of the election but will be beaten by Mr Macron - who has edged ahead of Francois Fillon after a corruption scandal centring on the conservative candidate’s British wife Penelope - in the final round on May 7.
But this is the most unpredictable French election in decades and the far-Right leader and her supporters believe that all bets are off after the Brexit and Trump votes.
These show that it is not only “possible that presidents like Donald Trump can be elected … but that they can above all respect their promises,” declared Ms Le Pen, whose dark trouser suit contrasted with the marine blue backdrop of the stage at the congress centre.
She promised a "revolution", based on "patriotism, proximity, liberty."
 Watch | Marine Le Pen praises Theresa May's Brexit plan


In 144 manifesto "commitments" published on Saturday, she proposes leaving the eurozone, holding a referendum on EU membership, slapping taxes on imports and on the job contracts of foreigners, lowering the retirement age and increasing several welfare benefits while lowering income tax.
Ms Le Pen has sought to make the Front National more mainstream - hence the removal of both the party name and her surname in election posters and rallies - but her speech in Lyon showed that anti-immigrant rhetoric is still central.
The loudest applause came - along with chants of  "On est chez nous!" ("This is our country") - when she railed against foreigners committing crimes in France or said that no illegal immigrant would be granted residency or get free healthcare if she came to power.
It was exactly that message that 68-year-old pensioner Guy Ughetto had travelled 150 miles from the southern city of Avignon to hear.
Marine Le Pen arrives on stage Credit:  JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images
“There has been an invasion of north Africans and Africans, an invasion that has been tolerated by successive (French) governments,” he said as he queued to get into the rally in the congress centre on the banks of the river Rhone.
He said that Donald Trump had “made his country respected again” and that he would like France to impose a similar ban to that in the US ordered by its new president on people from Muslim countries.
Ms Le Pen got another standing ovation when she claimed that “financial globalisation and Islamist globalisation” were linked and were “two ideologies that want to bring France to its knees."
She took a swipe at her election rivals, saying that while she stood for “the France of the people,” they stood for ”the moneyed right, the moneyed left.” 
 Watch | Marine Le Pen in 90 seconds


That was a thinly veiled reference to the fact that Mr Macron was a high-flying investment banker before becoming economy minister under President Francois Hollande and then resigning last year to launch his political movement.
political movement.
And it was a dig at Mr Fillon, who lives in a 12th-century chateau and who campaigned on a platform of probity and high ethics until late last month when allegations emerged that his Welsh-born wife Penelope had been paid more than €800,000 for a "fictitious job" as his parliamentary aide.
Mr Fillon denies any wrongdoing but is under investigation by financial prosecutors and faces mounting pressure to drop his bid for the French presidency.
Polls show that a large majority of French do not believe he is innocent, and a growing number of his Les Republicains party comrades are calling on him to stand aside and let someone else, possibly Alain Juppé, become their candidate.


Telegraph How Marine Le Pen transformed the Front National into a party for the populist era 
 France's far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen  

James Rothwell
30 January 2017 • 10:17am
Her father was a racist and a convicted holocaust denier who showed more interest in rabble-rousing than leading the Front National (FN) into power. 
But Marine Le Pen, a former lawyer with a steely blue-eyed glare, is taking the far-right group in a decidedly different direction.
Once a neoliberal club for churlish business owners under Jean-Marie, who led the party for nearly four decades, Ms Le Pen has turned the FN into a movement for the populist era.
Her campaign of "de-démonisation" since clawing the leadership from her father in 2011 sought to soften the party's toxic image, and she is now being widely touted as a strong contender for the French presidency.
President of the French far-right party and presidential candidate for the 2017 French presidential elections Marine Le Pen (C) tries a pair of glasses during her visit of the 5th edition of the "Made In France" fair, on November 18, 2016 in Paris. Credit:  PHILIPPE LOPEZ
In the past, the left and right have united to keep the FN out of power in France - in 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen was crushed in a presidential run-off against Jacques Chirac.
And at last year's local elections, when the FN threatened to win two key regions in France, the centre ground united again to keep the Le Pens at bay. 
However, after the shock vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, a Le Pen victory against the current favourite, the Thatcherite conservative Francois Fillon, cannot be ruled out. 
This begs the question: what exactly are Marine Le Pen's policies? And what would a FN government look like, in the unlikely event that she makes it all the way to the Elysée Palace next year?
The economy: big state, big on benefits - but only for the French
Ms Le Pen's "real innovation" was rejecting her father's bourgeois image in favour of support for a strong welfare state, according to Jim Shields, a professor in French politics at the University of Aston in Birmingham.
"MLP's policies combine a markedly right-wing social and cultural conservatism with a leftward turn in economic policy that has seen the FN move towards an agenda of anti-capitalism and social welfare provision in response to a growing public demand for social and economic protection," he said.
"Faced with economic stagnation, high unemployment, declining purchasing power and deepening public disaffection, the FN under Marine Le Pen has embraced the notion of the big protective state, pledging itself to economic interventionism, the expansion of public services and high spending on welfare.
Whereas Jean-Marie Le Pen declared himself "socially left wing, economically right wing," his daughter has turned those tenets on their head as she re-purposes the party for a populist new century. 
People are not just angry about rising unemployment but also the fact they are stuck doing pointless, bureaucratic jobs...there is no sense of making a constructive contribution to a shared systemDr Gerald Moore
“For a long time, the National Front upheld the idea that the state always does things more expensively and less well than the private sector,” she told the New York Times in a 2011 interview.
“But I’m convinced that’s not true. The reason is the inevitable quest for profitability, which is inherent in the private sector.
“There are certain domains which are so vital to the well-being of citizens that they must at all costs be kept out of the private sector and the law of supply and demand.”
Ms Le Pen's remarks show a clear break with her father. They also suggest that tackling unemployment would be one of the founding pillars of her economic policy.
Whereas her opponent, Francois Fillon, is offering a slew of public redundancies in a bid to shake up a bloated public sector, she has pledged to get the French working again.
"Her focus on creating jobs while Fillon would throw them away may be a major source of appeal to some voters," said Dr Gerald Moore, an expert in French philosophy and politics at Durham University.  
“People are not just angry about rising unemployment but also the fact they are stuck doing pointless, bureaucratic jobs...there is no sense of making a constructive contribution to a shared system.
"That's what leads people to think they do not have control of their lives, and it's why the talk of taking back control has become so popular in France, as well as in the UK with the Brexit vote, and also and in Trumpland.
Immigration: “Stop. We are full up.”
The Front National’s 2012 manifesto pledged to slash the number of foreigners entering France from 200,000 people per year to just 10,000.
Three years later, the refugee crisis saw hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers attempt to reach Europe as they fled conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan. . 
Ms Le Pen appears to have reacted by hardening her stance on immigration considerably, pledging to shut down the country's borders altogether. 
“We are not going to welcome any more people,” she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr in an interview last November. “Stop. We are full up.”
In the 2012 manifesto, the FN had also pledged to “take back control” of its borders by abandoning the Schengen Zone, which allows free cross-border movement, and reinstating tough patrols at the French border.
Ms Le Pen would also seek to make life tougher for France’s estimated 3.7m-strong immigrant population by giving priority to French citizens in term of jobs and social housing, 
There would also be a ban on immigrants’ automatic right to join family members who are residing legally in France. 
"For the Front National, immigration is the biggest stake,” said Joel Gombin, a political scientist at the Université de Picardie Jules Verne, "their stance on how exactly they would tackle immigration has changed over the years but what is certain is that a drastic reduction in numbers is on the cards.
"They have a major preoccupation with what immigration does to the French identity," Mr Gombin added. 
Nato: ‘What is it actually for?’
France and Nato have never been easy bedfellows - Charles de Gaulle controversially pulled the country out of the western alliance in 1966 in an assertion of independence.
Now, Marine Le Pen is positioning herself as a 21st century Gaulliste with a severe distrust of international groups, according to Jim Shields.
“Her message on Nato is, 'what is it actually for?" Her argument is that Nato no longer serves its purpose,” he said.
Andrew Marr Show Marr interviews Marine Le Pen
"Marine Le Pen has been questioning the purpose of Nato and by doing so she is adopting this Gaulliste line of French independence that has been a mantra in France.
"If she pulled France out of Nato she would not be doing something that is so controversial that it would cause a rupture, as it has already been done before.
"When De Gaulle did it he was appealing to national pride. And with the FN there is this deep suspicion to any supranational body, there is a recoiling from any kind of international body - whether it be the EU or Nato  - and a falling back on nationalism.
There is more than a whiff of Donald Trump to Ms Le Pen's views on Nato - he has criticised Nato as "obsolete and extremely expensive." 
He has also suggested he would not defend other alliance members unless they paid a fair share for their defences.  
Refugee crisis: Europe's fault
Although the notorious “Jungle” camp in Calais was demolished earlier this year, the spectre of the worst refugee crisis to hit Europe since World War Two still looms over France.
Makeshift camps consisting of around 4,000 migrants who were ejected from the Calais camp have been set up in the north of Paris, with the largest near the metro station at Stalingrad.
Ms Le Pen blames the crisis on the EU, and believes its efforts to depose Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad caused the civil war which saw more than one million refugees flee the country.  
 Watch | Marine Le Pen: There's no future for the EU


“You’ve done everything to bring down the government of Syria,” she told MEPs in a recent speech at the European Parliament in Brussels.
"[You have] thrown the country into a terrible civil war, while accusing Russia, which is actually fighting Islamic State."
Ms Le Pen also believes that only a minority of refugees entering Europe - about 30 per cent - actually come from Syria, while the rest are “economic migrants.”
That would suggest that she believes the solution to both issues lies in tougher border controls, something that could only be achieved if France left the European Union.
Europe: First Brexit, now a Frexit
Marine Le Pen changed her profile picture on Twitter to the British flag after the country voted to leave the European Union in June 2016.
“Victory for liberty!” she wrote, offering her “warmest and friendliest congratulations” to the “very brave” Boris Johnson and the Leave campaign.
Since then she has called for a “Frexit,” which is likely to be decided by a referendum on EU membership if she manages to defeat mainstream candidate Francois Fillon in next year’s elections.
“I am the only one who is capable of arm-wrestling with the European Union,” she wrote on Twitter shortly after Mr Fillon, who by comparison is mildly eurosceptic, won the conservative leadership primaries.
What is clear is that an exit from the euro would be at the centre of FN economic policyJoel Gombin
“She initially pledged a referendum on the Euro, but that has since evolved into a vote on membership of the union,” explained Prof Shields. 
The notion that France could follow Britain in leaving the EU has been rubbished by pundits and analysts, who say France has always enjoyed a closer, deeper attachment to Brussels. 
But Professor Shields pointed to the fact that a number of recent polls in France that suggest euro-skepticism is on the rise - a trend that would certainly play into Ms Le Pen's hands. 
A Pew Research Centre poll found in June that just 38 per cent of the French have a "positive view" of the EU. 
Three months earlier, an Elabe poll found that only 26 per cent of the French felt there were more advantages to being in the EU than there were disadvantages.
Less recently, in 2013, Le Figaro reported that the French had "grown more eurosceptic than the English" after a poll suggested only 41% viewed the EU favourably. 
"The economic policy of the Front National is unclear at the moment as it is not really the main preoccupation with their voter base,” said Mr Gombin.
"But what is clear is that an exit from the euro would be at the centre. That would tap into the idea that the French are becoming less and less attached to the EU, compared to Germany.  There is an increase in euroscepticism."
Muslims: "The sight of them praying in the street is like a Nazi occupation"
Marine Le Pen's infamous remarks about Muslims in 2010 saw her prosecuted for inciting racial hatred. 
"I'm sorry, but for those who really like to talk about World War Two, if we're talking about occupation, we could talk about that [street prayers], because that is clearly an occupation of the territory," she said at an FN rally in Lyons.
"There are no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is an occupation anyhow, and it weighs on people."
Ms Le Pen was eventually cleared of all charges, and it remains unclear whether she still holds such views, which at the time were condemned as Islamophobic. 
If anything, her open distrust and venom directed at Muslims has only increased in recent years in reaction to a spate of terror attacks carried out by Islamic extremists. 
Terror: More "flics" on the beat, a state of emergency with teeth
In the aftermath of the November 2015 Paris attacks, in which Isil extremists killed 130 people, Marine Le Pen called for an “immediate halt” to the intake of migrants in France.
Much like her position on the refugee crisis and the EU, mass immigration is for her also to blame for the surge in domestic terror attacks on France since November 2015.
In reaction to the attack in last July, Ms Le Pen roundly blamed interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve for the failure to stop the atrocity. 
“In any country of the world, a minister as powerful as [interior minister] Bernard Cazeneuve … would’ve resigned a long time ago,” she said. 
“[This is] the fault of a state, failing in its first priority, which is the protection of our citizens.”
Her stance on the "état d'urgence" - the state of emergency declared by Francois Hollande in the wake of the November 2015 Paris attacks - is that it was never put in place. 
The 2012 manifesto, written long before both those attacks, pledged to offer "real policies" to tackle terrorism but was light on detail in terms of how to go about it. 
More generally, however, Ms Le Pen is strongly in favour of an increase in spending on the police force, and an increase in the number of police officers - "flics" in French slang - on the streets. 
Foreign policy: Closer ties with Putin and Trump
Like the Brexit vote, Ms Le Pen welcomed Donald Trump's surprise victory with open arms. 
"It's a sign of hope for those who cannot bear wild globalization," she said. "They cannot bear the political life led by the elites."
The FN leader has also described an alliance between France, Russia and the US as "good for world peace."
“If I am president, France would have good relations with Russia," she said last November. 
Marine Le Pen would like to see closer ties between France and Russia Credit: SERGEI KARPUKHIN
While such an alliance could seem unholy to British voters, the perception of Putin in the rest of Europe is quite different, according to Dr Moore. 
"It's important to remember that Putin is not seen as badly on the continent as he is in the UK," he said. "In Europe, the notion that Putin is some kind of warlord is not really experienced in the same way that it is here."
 "As is well known, the Front National is bank rolled by Russia, but it's not the only reason she wants closer ties," added Mr Gombin.
"Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the FN does not see Russia as some kind of demonic enemy anymore - that role has now been taken by the EU."
Law and order: Bring back the guillotine, build more prisons
In addition to an EU referendum, an FN goverment would consult the public on whether to bring back the death penalty.
The 2012 manifesto pledged to reinstate the "peine de mort" and as recently as last March Ms Le Pen reiterated her strong support of it. 
Putin is not seen as badly on the continent as he is in the UK," he said, "in Europe, the notion that Putin is some kind of warlord is not really experienced in the same wayDr Gerald Moore
France, which continued to use the guillotine to execute prisoners through the 19th and 20th centuries, abolished the death penalty in 1981. It is currently banned under the French constitution.
Increased prison spending, and an overall increase in the number of France's prisons, were also key FN 2012 manifesto pledges. 
Relations with Britain: pro-May, anti-Farage?
There was widespread embarrassment at this year's  Conservative party conference after many were duped into believing Theresa May's keynote speech on national identity had received a ringing endorsement from Marine Le Pen.
"When Marine Le Pen supports you, you know you have shifted well to the right with your nationalism appeal to your base," wrote Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former special adviser, on Twitter. 
In fact, the message "Exactly" and an emoji of two hands offering applause alongside an extract of Mrs May's speech came from a fake Twitter account with no affiliation to the FN leader. 
"She has certainly shown more warmth towards May than towards [Nigel] Farage - though that may have more to do with a strategy of making the FN respectable by associationProf Jim Shields
Nonetheless, some commentators felt the speech, which focused on the impact of foreign workers in Britain, may well have resonated with Ms Le Pen.
"She does seem to feel affinity with Theresa May, who is after all doing what Le Pen would love to do: pressing on with Brexit and promising a firm line in negotiations with Brussels," agreed Prof Shields. 
"She has certainly shown more warmth towards May than towards [Nigel] Farage - though that may have more to do with a strategy of making the FN respectable by association than with any genuine meeting of minds."
For his part, Mr Farage - who has given Ms Le Pen the cold shoulder in the past - is showing no signs of warming up to her. 
"I have not changed my mind about her," he told the Telegraph, "though I support some of her reforms I wouldn't vote for her."
"But if she won, it would mean the end of the EU, wouldn't it?"
A senior Ukip source said Mr Farage's old party had no interest in forming closer ties with Ms Le Pen either. 
“The image has changed but there is still a contingent of deeply unpleasant, holocaust-denying types who remain in the party,” he said. 
“She may have similar views to us on Europe, but there is no copyright on being euroskeptic.
“In short - we wouldn’t touch her with a wooden spoon."
Additional reporting by Jake Hurfurt 

France election 2017: As Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen surge in polls, Francois Fillon 'faces elimination' - everything you need to know
French right wing candidate for the upcoming presidential election Francois Fillon (R) flanked by his wife Penelope 

James Rothwell
Henry Samuel, Paris
1 February 2017 • 6:59pm
Emmanuel Macron, a centrist independent candidate in France's election race, is likely to win France's upcoming election according to a recent poll.
According to Les Echos newspaper, the former protege of Francois Hollande has edged ahead of mainstream right-wing candidate Francois Fillon with 23% of the vote. 
This means he is likely to win the first round of voting in the election, going through far-right extremist Marine Le Pen in the second and final round.
Most opinion polls predict he would then beat Le Pen, the leader of the controversial Front National - making him the current favourite to win the race. 
French Economy minister Emmanuel Macron
Who are the candidates?
The top four candidates in 2017's French election are, in alphabetical order: Francois Fillon (Les Republicains), Benoit Hamon (Socialists), Marine Le Pen (Front National) and Emmanual Macron (Independent). 
There is no clear winner at this stage - political scandals, distrust towards  the polls, and the recent shock results in Britain and the US mean that all bets off. 
When is the election?
The election will take place in April and May of 2017. 
Candidates are pitted against each other twice - the first round of the vote takes place on April 23. Then, the two top candidates face each other in a second run-off, on May 7. 
French elections always take place on a Sunday.
Who's the favourite to win?
French elections are usually a two-horse with between the conservative Les Republicains (formerly the UMP) and the left-wing Socialist Party. 
But for this year's election, all bets are off. 
Francois Hollande's Socialist Party is in tatters after a disastrous term that has made him one of the least popular presidents in the country's history. 
Francois Hollande
And with Les Republicain's Francois Fillon smarting from the scandal over claims he paid his wife thousands of euros to do a fictitious job, his victory is no longer a foregone conclusion. 
Much ink has also been spilled over the possibility that Marine Le Pen could ride to the Elysée palace on a wave of populism. 
Only one FN presidential candidate has made it to the second round - Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002. His daughter Marine is virtually assured of doing so, current polls suggest, but her chances of winning the run-off remain highly unlikely.
The Thatcherite: Francois Fillon
Mr Fillon began his campaign as one of the leading lights of the 2017 race. His love of Margaret Thatcher's reforms led to him pledging to slash France's bloated public sector, which infamously employs thousands of fonctionnaires - civil servants - who are perceived as doing little to no work. 
But his campaign was plunged into chaos after a French newspaper accused him of paying his British wife, Penelope Fillon, up to half a million euros to do a job that never existed.
his file photo taken on January 29, 2017 shows French right wing candidate for the upcoming presidential election Francois Fillon (R), flanked by his wife Penelope Fillon
He is now under investigation by the French authorities, who recently raided the lower house of parliament in connection with the probe. 
The embattled French conservative presidential contender has seen his approval ratings plummet, and now faces being knocked out of the election according to one shock poll.
 Watch | François Fillon's career in 60 seconds


The poll came as Mr Fillon accused the ruling French Left of being behind the allegations, and said he was the victim of an "institutional coup d'état". 
He has urged his demoralised camp to remain loyal "two more weeks" as cracks emerged over whether his campaign is fatally compromised.
The far-right firebrand: Marine Le Pen
Her father, Jean-Marie, was a racist and a convicted holocaust denier who showed more interest in rabble-rousing than leading the Front National (FN) into power.
But Marine Le Pen, a former lawyer with a steely blue-eyed glare, is taking the far-right group in a decidedly different direction.
 France's Front National (FN) far-right party's President and presidential candidate for the 2017 election 
Once a neoliberal club for churlish business owners under Jean-Marie, who led the party for nearly four decades, Ms Le Pen has turned the FN into a movement for the populist era.
Her campaign of "de-démonisation" since clawing the leadership from her father in 2011 sought to soften the party's toxic image, and she is now being widely touted as a strong contender for the French presidency.
 Watch | Marine Le Pen in 90 seconds


The gamble appears to have paid off - several polls have put Ms Le Pen in the lead, with speculation that the "Trump effect" could see millions of disillusioned voters pick her over Mr Fillon, the mainstream right-winger. 
French election pundits, however, say it is unlikely she will win the second round of voting, 
The centrist: Emmanuel Macron
Mr Macron was president François Hollande’s eminence grise at the Elysée advising him on economic reform before serving as economy minister from 2014 to this year.
But he angered his former mentor by resigning to create his new centrist party, called "En Marche" ("On the Move"). The presidential hopeful has cast himself as a maverick outsider in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in America.
"I've seen the emptiness of our political system from the inside... I reject this system," he said in a recent speech, calling for a “democratic revolution” but without providing any detailed action plan.
Emmanuel Macron
The clean-cut pro-business ex-minister, who is married to a divorcee 20 year his senior and who has never held elected office, insists he is "neither of the Left or the Right" but “for France."
As a relative newcomer to the rough and tumble of a French election campaign, his lack of experience will prove to be his main source of appeal, or his downfall, depending on who you ask.
The 'Corbyn clone': Benoit Hamon
Benoit Hamon, a leftist likened to Jeremy Corbyn, trounced ex-prime minister Manuel Valls in the French Socialist presidential primaries.
Mr Hamon, an ex-education minister who wants to reduce the working week from 35 to 32 hours, tax robots and provide a monthly universal basic income for all, won 58.65 percent of the vote, according to the results announced by organisers based on 60 percent of polling stations having reported results.
Former French education minister Benoit Hamon
It was a shock result - Mr Valls, who was once touted as the "French Tony Blair", was thought to be a certainty for the Socialist nomination.
Polls indicate Mr Hamon will likely be eliminated in the first round of the presidential election on April 23.
His victory will boost the chances of maverick candidate Emmanuel Macron.THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dutch prime minister warns migrants to 'be normal or be gone', as he fends off populist Geert Wilders in bitter election fight Netherland's Prime minister Mark Rutte  arrives for an EU summit meeting at the European Union headquarters in Brussels last year Credit: THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty Images
Senay Boztas, in Amsterdam
David Chazan, in Paris
Peter Foster, Europe Editor
23 January 2017 • 7:34pm
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, made a sharp shift to the right on Monday, publishing a full-page advert warning immigrants to “be normal or be gone” as the Netherlands gears up for a bitter general election fight over national identity.
Mr Rutte, the leader of  the Liberal party (VVD), made the move as he fended off pressure from the rising popularity of Geert Wilders, whose hard-right Party for Freedom (PVV) has made a trademark from anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic politics. 
The tough new Rutte campaign message appeared in adverts in several leading newspape

Share this topic...
In a forum
In a site/blog

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk