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France. 2024 parliamentary elections. National Rally with a chance to take power – party history

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After decades of being political pariahs, the far-right has a chance of forming a government in France after early elections, Reuters reports, echoing the political path of the movement founded and dominated for more than half a century by the Le Pen family.

IN polls led by the National Union, the former National Front Marine Le PenAccording to a survey by the Ifop centre for the daily Le Figaro, LCI television and Sud Radio, published on Friday afternoon, the last day of the election campaign, RN has support of 36.5 percent.

READ ALSO: Poll: Over 80 percent of French believe their country is on the brink of collapse

National Front under the leadership of Jean-Marie Le Pen

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National Front, a far-right party composed of war veterans Algeria and French collaborators with the Vichy state, was founded in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, father of Marine. He remained the leader of the group for many years.

Jean-Marie Le Pen and Marine Le Pen. 30/03/2012Getty Images Europe

In 1974, he ran for president, but received less than 1 percent of the votes. Seven years later, he was not even able to attract enough supporters to run for office. The socialist François Mitterrand won then.

In later years, Le Pen gradually gained new supporters. In 1986, the party introduced its first deputies to the National Assembly. In 1995, the National Front won power in Toulon, Orange and Marignane, highlighting its growing popular support.

In the 2002 presidential election, Le Pen won 16.86 percent of the vote, enough to advance to the second round. This caused shock waves in France, when representatives of various political persuasions switched their support to the right-wing rival Jacques Chirac, in order to prevent the FN from gaining power. Chirac won over 80 percent of the vote in the second round.

He called the Holocaust a “detail”

Le Pen has spoken disparagingly of homosexuals with AIDS, consistent with his attempts to stir up outrage with racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic insults.

In 2008, Le Pen was sentenced to three months suspended in prison and fined €10,000 for saying that the Nazi occupation of France was “not particularly inhumane.” He also famously called the Holocaust a “detail” of World War II.

Marine Le PenPAP/EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA

In 2015, he was suspended and then expelled from the party by his daughter Marine, who took control of the National Front in 2011. This comes after a period in which the party performed poorly in opinion polls and faced growing financial pressure.

The new face of the right?

In 2012, Marine Le Pen ran unsuccessfully for the country's first term as president. Three years later, the party had a breakthrough election year, taking first place in elections to the European Parliament.

In 2017, Le Pen ran again in the presidential elections. In the second round, she received nearly 34 percent support. Emmanuel Macron was supported by 66 percent of voters then.

After losing to Macron, she began making efforts to make the party more accessible to a wider electorate. It has sought to distance itself from its racist and anti-Semitic past and provide its MPs with a more professional image through media training and an effective social media presence.

In the next presidential elections, in 2022, Macron and Le Pen's support was similar – 27.84 percent and 23.15 percent in the first round. In the second round, Macron won 58.54 percent of the votes, Le Pen – 41.46.

“Friendship” with Vladimir Putin

Ahead of the 2022 election, Le Monde recalled the far-right presidential candidate's ties to the Kremlin, writing that Marine Le Pen “has maintained close relations with the Russian regime for many years.” Just before the 2017 French election, Le Pen traveled to Moscow to shake hands Vladimir Putin.

Marine Le Pen at a meeting with Vladimir Putin. Photo from March 2017 kremlin.ru

Five years later, Le Pen changed her tone towards the Kremlin leader who had meanwhile invaded Ukraine. “I have no friendship with Vladimir Putin, whom I met once in my life, and I have no financial connections with him,” she said, quoted by Le Monde.

In 2014, the French magazine “Causeur” wrote that the National Front received from the First Czech-Russian Bank (First Czech Russian Bank) financial support of EUR 9 million. Shortly afterwards, the New York Times reported that “the founder and honorary president of the party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, received – regardless of the funds for FN – $2.5 billion from a holding company owned by a former KGB agent.” According to the Guardian, Marine Le Pen also received another EUR 2 million “from a mysterious company registered in Cyprus.”

Change of name and leadership

In 2018, the party changed its name to National Union. In 2021, he took over the leadership of the party – first as acting chairman 28-year-old Jordan Bardella.

Marine Le Pen and Jordan BardellaPAP/EPA – Andre Pain

As Reuters writes, in June, when he led the party in winning the European Parliament elections, he dealt a blow to Macron's party and prompted the president to order early parliamentary elections.

Bardella is the far-right candidate for prime minister.

Reuters, PAP, Le Monde, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: Getty Images Europe



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