Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, officially launched her presidential campaign on Sunday, vowing to “protect” France against globalisation — and a new poll shows she has perfectly chosen the theme.
“Au nom du people,” which literally translates into “in the name of the people,” is Le Pen’s slogan for her presidential campaign.
She is presenting herself as the only candidate who understands and cares about the public’s concerns.
“The divide is not between the left and right anymore but between patriots and globalists,” she told a cheering crowd.
It is a message that is likely to strike a chord. A new poll, released today by newspaper Le Figaro, shows that French people’s outlook on globalisation is one of the most pessimistic in the world.
Pollsters questioned over 16,000 people from 22 countries in October and November 2016 — before Donald Trump’s US election triumph — about their concerns, their country and globalisation. “The French are more pessimistic than the average and much more suspicious of their elites,” Yves Bardon, from polling company Ipsos, told the Figaro.
Some 33% of French people think that opening their country’s economy to foreign companies and the international market is a threat. In the US, where Donald Trump, whose protectionism and “America first” policy are largely thought to have helped him win the election, 29% of the population saw a similar threat from globalisation.
Another question shows the French have a similar yet “worse” outlook than the Americans. Some 67% of French people think their country is in decline. This has historically benefited far-right and nationalistic parties. In the US, 60% of the population thought their country was in decline.
All of these findings — a fear of globalism, an impression that their country is in decline, and an aversion to their elites — play into Le Pen’s party platform.
During her campaign launch, she told flag-waving supporters chanting “this is our country!” that “financial globalisation and Islamist globalisation are helping each other out… Those two ideologies want to bring France to its knees.”
Le Pen hopes the populist wave that brought Trump to power and contributed to British people to voting in favour of Brexit, will also sweep over France and create enough momentum to get her elected. She has constantly praised Trump and his policies and has said she would aim to emulate his policies on tariffs and immigration.
On Sunday, she received some of the loudest applause when she pledged to expel all foreigners condemned for a crime or misdemeanour, and when she said migrants without identity papers could never be legally allowed to stay in France or get free healthcare, Reuters reported.
Someone who ‘is ready to change the rules of the game’
Another question showed 80% of French people agreed that for the country’s situation to improve, a politician who “is ready to change the rules of the game” is needed.
This answer clearly favours Le Pen and independent Emmanuel Macron — especially as the most mainstream candidate in the race, right-wing François Fillon, is under increasing pressure to drop out of the race over a scandal involving his wife’s work as parliamentary assistant.
The latest polls show Fillon could be knocked out of the first-round of the elections, with between 18.5% and 20% of support, compared with 25% for Le Pen, and 20%-22% for Macron. But polls also show Macron winning the second round, with around 63% against Le Pen’s 37%.