Le Pen on the Brink of Presidency: Nativism, Holocaust Denial, and Anti-Immigration

It seems, indeed, that the far right party in France is leading. The National Front (abbreviated “FN” for Front National in French) could possibly win the election after having lost in 2002 to Jacques Chirac. This is due to the fact that, in the last 15 years, France has become more conservative and protectionist, intensified by issues such as the migrant crisis and several terrorist attacks on French soil.

Marine Le Pen, FN Presidential Candidate

However, the French people who plan to vote for Le Pen do not seem to take her reprehensible convictions into account. On immigration, she declared in 2012: “Would you accept 12 illegal immigrants moving into your flat? You would not. On top of that, they start to remove the wallpaper. Some of them would steal your wallet and brutalize your wife. You would not accept that. Consequently, we are welcoming, but we decide with whom we want to be welcoming” – comments she will actually deny later on with a CNN journalist. To “get rid” of migrants, she suggests to “push them back into international waters,” where they can drown.

In this respect, she takes after her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the previous leader of the FN, who is famous for his racist remarks, such that the gas chambers during the Holocaust were “a minor detail of Second World War history.”

In the same vein, Marine Le Pen declared last week: “France was not responsible for the Vel D’Hiv.” The Vélodrome d’Hiver (or “Vél d’Hiv”) refers to the mass arrest by French policemen, in collaboration with the Nazis, of 13,152 Jews in Paris  (including more than 4,000 children) who were, for the most part, deported to Auschwitz. In other words, she denied France’s role in the largest roundup and deportation of Jews during the Holocaust.

While these recent statements have insulted the entire Jewish community, Le Pen’s incendiary rhetoric mainly targets French Muslims who, according to her, are “not compatible” with the French Republic. She maintains the belief to “defend and promote French cultural and historical heritage.” During the most recent presidential debate, she also proposed that “nativity cribs should be settled in each French city hall”.  Pretty amusing for someone who is allegedly advocating for the preservation of a secular country.

Finally, it appears that she is in favor of what she calls the “Frexit,” that is the French exit of the Eurozone, following the UK’s Brexit. Nevertheless, even though she fights against the European Union’s grip on France, she does not seem to be bothered by using EU’s money for her own benefit. Indeed, Le Pen has been accused of corruption for spending the European Parliament’s funds for “fake jobs,” such as hiring one of her bodyguards as her parliamentary assistant. An investigation is ongoing but she has failed to appear in court.

Now, all we can do is wait for the coming Sunday to find out whether or not our French Donald Trump will reach the second round of the elections, as the polls predict.


Agnès Schaffauser, a PhD student in the Department of French and Italian specializing in post-colonial literature and especially in Maghrebi literature. Her research interests also include gender studies and psychoanalysis. For her thesis, she will focus on clandestine immigration writings.

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