The rhetoric of Le Pen is the only reason she is collecting votes
A couple weeks ago, Marine Le Pen, the head of the FN (French extreme right party, which gathered 25% of the votes in the European elections) declared that her father, the President of Honour, made a “political mistake”. Indeed, several French celebrities and singers like Yannick Noah ad Patrick Bruel declared that if the FN was elected nationally, they would stop performing. In response to Patrick Bruel, Jean-Marie Len Pen replied that “next time, we’ll just do another batch”, here batch is an intentional parallel made with the gas chambers in the concentration camps, implying Jews were killed by “batches”. A lot of the meaning of the original French word, “fournée” is however lost in translation. Nevertheless, his comment sparked obvious controversy outside and inside the party. Patrick Bruel declared he was saddened not for himself but for the 6 million Jews who were gassed.
This is when, smart and savvy Marine LePen declared her father made a “political mistake”. The issue is that many saw honesty and political correctness. Around 10 or even 15 years ago, these political blunders were rather common for the FN. Jean Marie Le Pen expressed himself on his belief of “inequality of races” and unsurprisingly, when we take in account his latest comment, that the gas chambers, were a “detail in our history”. But now, with their scores rising and their votes flooding in, political correctness is a must have. If Marine Le Pen is sincere or not, is completely beyond the point, since if she would have sincerely and ethically disagreed with her father she would have said so, but her conclusion of a “political mistake” is being looked over by some. This political mistake might bring back the FN its old reputation, racist, narrow minded and powerless. It might reduce votes and dissolve the glossy cover it is giving itself. It could, essentially ruin all of Marine’s efforts of “dédiabolisation” literally meaning her efforts to reduce the demonizing reputation the party carried for so long.
This is what is the most worrying. Her efforts are solely focused on her party’s reputation, the glossy cover and not much else. Each party has obvious concerns concerning its reputation and thus hires highly skilled PR officers and devoted communication departments, but they compensate by having ideas and programs. Her party and attitude is in no way less racist, or less xenophobic than before, just smarter, I’ll give her that, and more talented at hiding these phobias and anti-constitutional values. We can thus consider the FN as the shiny display window of a shop with nothing to by, or with only expired, out of date products. The only thing that has changed once Marine Le Pen became head of the party is the shop window.
A good example of this point, were the European debates, in May. What was most impressive about the European debates was that Marine Le Pen spoke of no actual plans of what she would do in Brussels. She spent the first 10 minutes of her speaking time talking in detail about a policy Nicolas Sarkozy made in 2002 allowing Serbs from Croatia to obtain a French Visa. When after 15 minutes of cacophony between her and Jean-Luc Mélanchon, head of the extreme left party, she managed to dominate the conversation, and pointed out that there are 8 million French citizens without a job in France. And, that she cared more about her “French citizens” whom she believes to have “a duty towards” than immigrants. She insists that because of Shengen, the French are in “real misery”. However, in France, 17% of immigrants from the EU are out of a job, against 8% of French born citizens. This does not imply we should be more attentive to one group or another, but simply that Marine Le Pen is not getting her facts right. The percentage of French unemployed is much lower to that of immigrants living in France, from the European Union thus in total legality. She continues to punctuate the debate with “you know nothing” when speaking to others or comments in a sarcastic tone. When faced with the concrete question of the monitor, “but how will you reduce immigration tough?” she answered “by strengthening the boarders”. The fact that this answer is monotonous is beside the point though. What is saddening is how much this one hour debate revolved around immigration and answering her provocative comments. What is discouraging is how she controls the debate by contradicting her “opponents” and repeating the same thing over and over again, her flawed analysis of French unemployment, without proposing any solutions, plans or incentives. It dragged the debate down, and made it all revolve around her unchecked facts.
A couple months later, in early June, in an interview on Russian Television, her answer to the first question which was “what will you pan to do once in the European Parliament?” was “to constitute a group to prevent any new advances toward European Federalism”. That is about it though, her “proposals” are simply oppositions and her arguments are simply contradictions. However, the 25% of voters who believe in her do not see that because she is smarter than her father and has glossed over the party so much, we cannot even see the empty promises and hidden xenophobia it still constitutes.