Le Pen's plan to rebrand the Front National

Despite her defeat against Macron last year Marine Le Pen was re-elected leader of the Front National on Sunday. She announced that she wanted to rename the far-right party, proposing Rassemblement National, or "National Rally". A sign of weakness or the start of the 2022 presidential race?

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Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) / 13 March 2018

A party divided and weakened

The new name can't disguise the fact that the Front National is weakened, Il Sole 24 Ore comments:

“In June Marine Le Pen lost against Emmanuel Macron. The wonder boy, and above all the man who shook up French politics with a new strategy, became president. An earthquake that didn't spare the Front National either. The change of name and the definitive exclusion of Jean-Marie Le Pen convey the impression that Marine Le Pen wants to shift further towards France's political centre. However, inviting Donald Trump's ex-strategist Steve Bannon to attend the party congress in Lille points in the opposite direction. A provocative initiative, a sign of the effort to keep the various and incompatible spirits within the party together.”

Le Soir (BE) / 12 March 2018

Bitter struggle looming on the right

Marine Le Pen apparently wants to imitate the Lega Nord in Italy but that won't be so easy, Le Soir's France correspondent Joëlle Meskens writes:

“Her face brightens as soon as she hears the name Matteo Salvini. Marine Le Pen no doubt dreams of a similar future: merging with the classic right and then sucking it dry like a praying mantis. Her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, whose popularity within the FN has certainly not escaped Marine Le Pen's attention, is credited with a similar strategy. For a merger to take place, however, it must first be approved by the right. But Laurent Wauquiez, leader of Les Républicains, is pursuing a different strategy, one which also appealed to his mentor Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007: he wants to take a more radical stance in a bid to win over the FN's voters. A bitter struggle is taking shape on the far right.”

The Irish Times (IE) / 13 March 2018

Too soon to write it off

Despite its recent setbacks the Front National has a rosy future, The Irish Times is convinced:

“For all its problems, however, the assumption that the party is in retreat is wishful thinking. Le Pen won almost 11 million votes in last year's run-off - almost twice as many as her father in 2002. Over the long-term, its support is on an upward trajectory, and none of the evidence from recent European elections suggests the populist surge is weakening. With a presidential election four years away, the party has time to recover. Its rivals have nothing to be complacent about.”

Mandiner (HU) / 12 March 2018

A catch-all movement in keeping with the times

Marine Le Pen's party is formulating a counter-programme to the globalism championed by Macron, France expert Ágnes Zsófia Magyar writes on the opinion portal Mandiner:

“The Front National believes people are being turned into commodities in today's France and that the freedom of the individual is guaranteed only on the Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon axis. It also criticises the way migrants are receiving billions in social benefits while the middle class and pensioners are groaning under the weight of a growing tax burden. And it sees France sinking into a boundless process of globalisation where values and traditions no longer count. ... By setting itself up as a national catch-all movement campaigning for 'tradition, protection and freedom' it is stretching its hand out to all the voters who until now had reservations about voting for it”


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