Le Pen’s Trumpian battle

Challenger François Fillon takes a hard line on Islam butunknown his free-market policies would cripple the working class

National Front leader Marine Le Pen will face François Fillon in next year’s French presidential elections after Fillon’s surprise victory in Sunday’s rightwing primary.

The Republican candidate’s win over Alain Juppé and Nicolas Sarkozy is theimages-1 most significant turning point in French politics in 30 years. Fillon is a center-right, free-market, small government politician, and a skeptic of the whole European Union political machine.

Most opinion polls say the far-right Le Pen will almost certainly make the crucial second round runoff vote and then face Fillon—and in a post-Brexit, Trumpian world, experts say a Le Pen victory in next year’s presidential election is no longer a far-fetched idea.

Analysts believe next year’s election campaign will revolve around the issues of French identity and security, areas where Le Pen may struggle to differentiate herself from Fillon.

Like Le Pen, Fillon promotes a hard line on political or totalitarian Islam in France. On the same theme he has said he is in favour of an outright ban on the “burkini,” the swimwear which caused such an uproar in the summer.

And on the hot-button issue of security, Fillon’s desire to strip jihadists of their French nationality has long been the preferred policy of Le Pen’s National Front Party.

Fillon’s hardline views on identity and Islam may help him, but his economic plan “to tear the house down” may not. He wants to inflict the same economic policies on France as Margaret Thatcher did in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US, which Le Pen says is an attack on the working classes and the lower middle classes.

“Can you really imagine the workers going out to vote for Fillon en masse?” said a member of Le Pen’s campaign team.

Le Pen will portray herself, just as Donald Trump did against Hillary Clinton so effectively, as the alternative anti-establishment figure against a career politician. The fact Fillon was prime minister for five years under the unpopular Nicolas Sarkozy will allow her to depict him as “same old, same old.”

— Ben McPartland, Nov. 28, 2016

FULL STORY HERE: http://www.thelocal.fr/20161128/fillons-hardline-views-will-help-hold-off-le-pen

Advertisements