Oscar Lopez Marseille
Marine Le Pen focused on Islamist terrorism and the threat to France from immigrants last night in her final rally before this weekend’s fiercely contested presidential election first round.
The Front National leader targeted security concerns as she addressed supporters in Marseille, the multi-ethnic city where two men were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of planning to attack a presidential candidate.
Her rival candidates were happy to let “immigrants turn France into a gigantic squat,” she argued. “Are we going to be able to live as French for much longer when entire neighbourhoods are taken over by foreigners?” she said to wild applause and cheering.
“A multicultural society is a multi-conflict society.”
Ms Le Pen has spent years trying to broaden support for the party founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen but she appears to have suspended that approach in the final days of rallying before Sunday’s first round of voting.
The new hardline tack has gained approval from her fans, with many at the Marseille rally chanting “la France aux francais” (France for the French), an old slogan associated with the xenophobia and anti-Semitism that infected the Front National when it was led by Mr Le Pen.
For Andre Boyer (75), it was immigration above all else that secured his vote for Ms Le Pen. “We’re not even in our own country anymore,” he said as he waited for the Front National leader to take to the stage in the southern city. “We’re being invaded by migrants. Meanwhile, we have seven million people without work,” he said.
Ms Le Pen’s anti-elite and anti-globalisation rhetoric plays well with her supporters and she spent much of her rally denouncing the unbridled free market and calling for “economic patriotism” and “intelligent protectionism”.
Globalisation “wants to make of the world a giant supermarket where everything is for sale, where everything is bought, including people, including workers. Well, France is not for sale, the French people are not for sale,” she said. Ms Le Pen’s promises to pull France out of the euro, cut immigration, make it harder to get French nationality and to get tough on suspected Islamists, have kept her in joint top place in most of the latest polls.
But the polls show a four-way race has developed between her, Emmanuel Macron; François Fillon, the scandal-scarred conservative candidate; and Jean-Luc Melenchon, far-left firebrand. Just two will go through to the second and final round of voting on May 7.
Security has been stepped up at all election events after police arrested the terror suspects in Marseille and found weapons and bomb-making equipment in their flat along with an Isil flag. (Daily Telegraph London)