Marine Le Pen re-emerges whistling the same old tune
Far-right leader blames sexual harassment on immigrants who ‘do not respect women’
Marine Le Pen: said France was “a society where the law of armed thugs reigns”. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters
It was just a casual remark after her formal speech, but it showed yet again how the leader of the extreme right-wing Front National brings everything back to immigration.
Marine Le Pen was holding a Champagne flute and standing next to the new year’s buffet at Front National party headquarters in Nanterre, west of Paris, when she was asked about the debate over sexual harassment that is dividing France.
“The vast majority of harassment in the street is done by immigrants, who import a culture that does not respect women, a culture of submission for women,” Ms Le Pen said. “For many, it’s a sign of contempt for French women.”
On what did she base that assertion? “Go to any police commissariat where they receive this type of complaint,” she said. “You’ll see that it’s caused by the importation of a culture that is fundamentally disrespectful of women.”
A year ago, much of Ms Le Pen’s new year’s wishes ceremony was devoted to the election of Donald Trump and Brexit, which she viewed favourably. Neither was mentioned on Monday. Her obsessional triptypch of immigration, security and the ills of the European Union constituted the core of her speech.
What she called President Emmanuel Macron’s “cosmetic” draft law on immigration is considered inhumane by the French left. Ms Le Pen said it “finalises the migratory submersion of France”. Macron will visit Calais on Tuesday.
‘Threats and blackmail’
The continuing flow of migrants to Calais is not the fault of the UK, Ms Le Pen said. “Calais is the consequence of disorderly, massive immigration into our country, linked to the EU’s desire to force countries to accept immigration. The EU uses threats and blackmail to force them, to the point of punishing [central European] countries who oppose it.”
France has become “a society of plural insecurities”, Ms Le Pen said. French jobs are insecure because of Mr Macron’s labour reforms. The upcoming reform of the unemployment regime will create greater insecurity. A scandal over contaminated baby milk shows the health system is insecure. Budgets slashed by the president have rendered local governments insecure.
“Then there is physical insecurity,” Ms Le Pen said, citing a poll showing 66 per cent of the French feel unsafe. France “is a society where the law of armed thugs reigns. At Châtelet [metro station] a young man was stabbed to death ... ” Ms Le Pen spoke of gang warfare, the mafia, attacks on police, and judges who are soft on criminals.
Ms Le Pen unveiled her “strategic road map” for the 2019 European elections, based on a plan to “transition” from the EU to a “Union of European Nations” which she calls by the French acronym “Une”, meaning “one”. She wants to define the “technical, legal, political and diplomatic conditions” of the transition with like-minded anti-EU parties.
After rallying “all nationalist and sovereignist forces” in France, she will “defend this project across the entire continent, thanks to allied parties who are present in all EU countries”.
‘Great political victory’
Ms Le Pen called the presence of the extreme right-wing Freedom Party in key posts in Austria “a great political victory that follows a great ideological victory”. The strong position of Eurosceptical parties in Italy in the run-up to March elections was “further evidence that the people are opposed to the EU as it functions”.
Nationalist parties “can become the majority throughout Europe”, Ms Le Pen predicted. “Look at Italy, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark. A whole series of countries are realising that they cannot go on with this technocratic, bureaucratic EU ... We’re not in contact with all of them. They are part of this dynamic that rejects the EU as it is being defended, tooth and nail, by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel. ”
Eight months ago, Ms Le Pen lost the presidential election to Mr Macron, who she described as “a smiling, good-looking man who has solved nothing”. At the Front National congress in March, she will change the party’s name and statutes.
“The FN won 10 per cent of the vote in the 2007 presidential election,” Ms Le Pen said. “A decade later, we won nearly 35 per cent. We only have 15 per cent of the French left to convince. We used to be a protest party. Now we’re a party of opposition.”