Science | History | PSHE

Authoritarian tigress who could lead France

Is she a fascist? The far-right leader who is anti-EU, anti-NATO and pro-Russia is now a strong contender to take the helm of a major nuclear power at the heart of Europe.  Marine Le Pen is a right-wing nationalist politician. Both she and her father have run for president numerous times. Now she may finally get her prize. French presidential elections take place in two rounds. The two top candidates in the first round go into a head-to-head. Yesterday was the first round and the same two people got through as four years ago. In first place was centrist Jean-Emmanuel Macron. Close behind him was Marine Le Pen. In 2017, Macron beat Le Pen by 66% to 34%. This year he looked on course for another big victory. But polls have narrowed. Now they are almost neck and neck. Le Pen and her National Rally (NR) party have controversial policies which some people think are racist. These include: 1. Strictly limiting immigration 2. Banning Muslim women from wearing headscarves in public 3. Making it harder for people who are not French to get jobs Le Pen wants to change France's constitution in order to pass these laws. “What Marine Le Pen proposes is a kind of coup d'état,” says constitutional expert Dominique Rousseau. Le Pen has also been criticised because she is friendly with Russian president Vladimir Putin. He has recently invaded Ukraine, killing thousands. Macron accuses Le Pen of being “funded by Russia” and “indulging” his war in Ukraine. But Le Pen has also softened her party’s image. She has played up her love of cats and promised a “calmer” politics. Le Pen has wanted to make her party less controversial for a long time. Her father was more openly fascist. He was criticised for saying that the Holocaust was not important. Marine expelled Jean-Paul from the party in 2015. But many commentators believe that she still has similarities beneath the surface. One critic describes her party as “hobgoblins in designer suits”. Others disagree. Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the far right, points out that she is seeking to gain power through democracy rather than force. “Simply put, the RN is not a Fascist party,” he says. Is she a fascist? Too right Yes: Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. She may not have a toothbrush moustache, but Marine Le Pen’s vision for a society in which race and nationality determine your fate is one that Hitler and Mussolini would welcome. No: Marine Le Pen is a legitimate democratic politician. However appalling you might find her views, they should be debated, not be dismissed by using alarmist labels like “fascist”. Or... Let’s not get bogged down in debates about terminology. A politics of discrimination based on nationality, religion and race should be unwelcome under any guise.     KeywordsCentrist - Occupying a position on the political spectrum between left and right.

Continue Reading

The Day is an independent, online, subscription-based news publication for schools, focusing on the big global issues beneath the headlines. Our dedicated newsroom writes news, features, polls, quizzes, translations… activities to bring the wider world into the classroom. Through the news we help children and teachers develop the thinking, speaking and writing skills to build a better world. Our stories are a proven cross-curricular resource published at five different reading levels for ages 5 to 19. The Day has a loyal and growing membership in over 70 countries and its effectiveness is supported by case studies and teacher endorsements.

Start your free trial Already have an account? Log in / register