Might lose Macron to Le Pen
There was no trace of bitterness when Marine Le Pen took the stage shortly after the election results were announced. She is beaming and can be celebrated by her followers in Paris. They cheer a little more cautiously than in April, but still loudly for their "Navy". Le Pen congratulates their victorious rival Emmanuel Macron and wishes him all the best for his tenure. But it quickly becomes apparent what your actual agenda is in this address.
The result for her is "historic", now she wants to found a "new political force", an "alliance of patriots", explains the head of the National Front in the small, overcrowded hall. It's an announcement that suggests that Le Pen has been preparing for the result for days - and doing everything possible to capitalize on their defeat. In fact, Macron won by a large margin, but at least 33.9 percent voted for the right-wing extremist.
Marine Le Pen waged an election campaign of unbelievable brutality, portraying herself as the candidate of "forgotten France". It did not hide its radicalism and still received 10.6 million votes. This is by far the best result in the history of the Front National (FN) - and far more than the party's maximum voter potential, which is always given by experts as 25 percent. She surpassed her highest election success to date in the regional elections in 2015 with almost four million votes. She doubled her father's 2002 earnings, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
The outcome of these presidential elections can certainly make Le Pen triumph - even if it turns out smaller than she had hoped. That she did not win should make it easier for her opponents, but only for a short time. Because the election campaign has left the country even more divided, and the danger of right-wing populism has not been averted.
Le Pen incites people against one another, instrumentalizes conflicts and fears in French society. On Sunday evening, she declared the struggle between globalization friends and the patriots for just started. The electoral defeat in the presidential election seems just another stage. Parliament is finally elected on June 11th. The Front National has so far been disadvantaged by the French majority voting system, the party currently only has two MPs - a number that is to be increased significantly.
The fact that she now wants to change the name of the Front National to an "Alliance of Patriots" is a continuation of her strategy to free the party from its right-wing extremist image and to develop it into a nationalist people's party of the common man. The moderate face is above all a calculation in order to reach more voters from the middle. Already in the election campaign she was in the foreground as a person, the Navy wanted to become president, not the FN, that's how it should look.
Le Pen's radical disposition shines through again and again
That Le Pen is still the radical candidate of a right-wing extremist group, she showed not least in the TV duel, where she appeared hateful and destructive. She also let her convictions shine through during the election campaign when she denied that France was responsible for the deportation of thousands of Jews during the Second World War. Muslims praying on the streets of France compared them to the Nazi occupation in 2010 and had to answer to the courts. Time and again, officials make headlines with ambiguous statements. The party also refused entry to critical journalists for the election party in Paris.
All of this is widely known, and yet Marine Le Pen is up in every election. Because many French have finished with the established politics, feel left behind and disadvantaged. Le Pen has recognized this change in society, the rifts between above and below, city and country, modernity and tradition - and uses it to expand her power. It is a successful course that did not end on Sunday, on the contrary. Emmanuel Macron will have to fight hard to reunite the country and to take the wind out of the sails of the extreme right. Because Marine Le Pen is now his strongest opponent. She will do anything to stay that way.
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